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The Art of iPhone Filmmaking with Tangerine Director Sean Baker

I’ve recently been looking and studying alternative shoot methods to shoot a feature film. One name that keeps coming up is Sean Baker. His ground-breaking film Tangerine made more noise at the Sundance Film Festival than the winner that year. The film was also produced by the indie film legends, Jay and Mark Duplass.

Tangerine was shot completely on an iPhone. Yes, an iPhone. The great thing was that after his Sundance screening no one in the audience or at the film festival knew that the film was shot on an iPhone.

What I respect about Sean Baker as a filmmaker is that he didn’t focus on the technology when promoting his film, he let the story, actors and film speak for itself. If you haven’t seen Tangerine you are missing out. Take a look at the RED BAND trailer below.

I wanted to put together a post that highlighted what can be done with minimal filmmaking tech and a great story. Sean Baker has definitely what can be done in today’s filmmaking world.

Below are a ton of videos explaining the process Sean Baker and his director of photography Radium Cheung, HKSC went through making Tangerine, as well as a bunch of video explaining tips and tricks on how to turn something you shot on an iPhone into cinematic gold. Enjoy my conversation with Sean Baker.

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Filming A Movie On An iPhone – Lessons from TANGERINE Filmmaker Sean Baker 


The Tools Sean Baker Used to Make Tangerine:

Moondog Labs 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter for iPhone 5s (this gave them around a 2.40:1 aspect ratio from the original 16:9)

FiLMiC Pro App (this helped lock exposure, focus, white balance, but also gave them better compression)

Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 5/5s

Sennheiser ClipMic digital Mobile Recording Microphone for iOS Devices

Take a look at this ASC article about how they decided on the amazing look for the film:

It was during prep that Sean Baker discovered another key component of the movie’s look: its saturated color.  Sean Baker says.

“The sort of films I make have this urban social-realist thing. What I normally do is drain the color because for some reason, that adds to the reality.”

 

All photos courtesy of Sean Baker

All photos courtesy of Sean Baker

But after trying that with test footage in Final Cut Pro, he thought about other options.

“Because these women are so colorful, I decided to try going the other way, and I tried pumping up the saturation instead. Almost immediately, I was sold. One movie critic called it ‘pop vérité,’ and that was exactly the combination I was looking for.”

For the 22-day shoot, cinematographer Radium Cheung, HKSC brought only three battery-operated Rosco LitePads — 1’x1’, 6”x12” and 3”x12” Cheung says,

“Just to be able to fill in and add some eyelight every now and then.”

Bounce material picked up at a 99-Cents Only Store was used occasionally.

“We had no C-stands, no conventional movie lights. We staged our actors with existing light on locations, to some degree, and I turned those existing lights on and off selectively.”


Shooting with Only iPhones on the Sundance Hit Film ‘Tangerine’

An interview with Director of Photography Radium Cheung, HKSCabout his work on the film ‘Tangerine’ and what it was like to shoot on the iPhone 5s.


Shoot a Film With an iPhone and FiLMiC Pro!

Today we create a short sketch using an iPhone as our only camera! Then, we show you how to get that kind of quality from your cell phone!


Also, check out KENZO “Snowbird” a movie by Sean Baker

KENZO presents a new film by the acclaimed writer/director, Sean Baker, entitled “Snowbird”, featuring the KENZO from Creative Directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim.

“Snowbird” stars Abbey Lee in her latest role since appearing in the blockbuster “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Abbey Lee plays ‘Young Theo’, a young woman living in a remote desert community.

Sean Baker wrote and directed this original short for KENZO and shot the film entirely on iPhone.


If you enjoyed The Art of iPhone Filmmaking with Tangerine Director Sean Baker, then watch below:


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