Given the spread of affordable high-quality video cameras in the modern world, there’s probably never been a better time to be an amateur filmmaker. You don’t even need more than a nice smartphone if Tangerine is any indication. The Sundance Film Festival hit was shot completely using an iPhone 5S, the $8 app Filmic Pro, a Steadicam rig, and anamorphic adapter lenses made byMoondog Labs.
Here’s Sundance’s synopsis of the film:
It’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles, including an Armenian family dealing with their own repercussions of infidelity.
In an interview with the Verge director Sean Baker provides some sound advice for aspiring filmmakers looking to work on a budget.
Ransone said that the key to shooting Tangerine was having a team well-versed in traditional filmmaking. “You still need to know how editing works. You still need to know how sound works. You still need to know how a camera works,” he says. “You can’t just go out and shoot.” iPhone footage hasn’t yet caught up with true 35 millimeter film – a high bar – but Ransone expects it will some day. “Yes, you can make a beautiful-looking film on a shoestring budget,” he says. “But you have to know 100 years worth of filmmaking.”
It’s important to remember that Baker was only able to shoot the film on the iPhone because of the unending independent development from private companies like Moondog Labs to create cutting edge enhancements for the ever-evolving iPhone. Still, the reliability and power of the iPhone is what inspires those companies to build, and it’s an incredible step for the iPhone to be used to create a film that was screened at a prestigious film festival like Sundance.
Head over to the Verge for its full interview with Baker, including the roots of the film’s development and his comments on the peculiarities and benefits of filming with an iPhone.