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Make a Short Film with a Smartphone

More than a true vocation, guerrilla cinema is today a necessity for many video companies near me lacking means. A few years ago, the equipment needed to shoot a short film was extremely important, and above all very expensive. Fortunately, times have changed, and it is even possible to make a short film with your smartphone. Below are some tips for making a short film with an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or other mobile phone.

Practical tips for filming

In fact, before shooting, I want to talk about the preparation. It is all the more important when your means are limited. And if you're shooting your film with a smartphone, you don't have to have a big budget! The more you prepare your film in advance, the more time you will save when shooting. The basis, as we have already said many times, is the script. So, make sure you have worked on your script with some rigor. Once you have a scenario that holds up, don't throw yourself at your camera. Many tools allow you to better understand the shooting of your film: Make sure you have a technical breakdown and a work plan!

The technical breakdown is a table, showing, for each sequence, the different shots to be shot. It lists shot numbers, camera positions and movements, dialogues, music, and other sounds. The work plan is a shooting schedule. It gathers the plans and sequences which must be shot, at what time is in which place. The more information it contains, the better the technical team will be. Indicate the members of the team concerned and any other information that you think is relevant to the preparation of the film.

For a short film, you won't necessarily have time to do two weeks of rehearsals. Nevertheless, it is essential to do some preparatory work with the actors. If ever they didn't understand the tone, you were looking for the character beforehand, it will make your first day of shooting very complicated. If you can, organize a script reading or rehearsals with your actors and actresses.

For shooting, try to be the most efficient. I advise you in particular to apply a method very popular in Hollywood in the 1930s: For each sequence, shoot it entirely with several shot values, without cutting. Do one shot in a wide shot, a second in a medium shot, and a close-up shot on each of the actors. This operation has its limits, but when you lack experience and certainties, it allows you to ensure the minimum. By doing this, you have the quasi-guarantee of being able to make a coherent assembly, without false connection. Afterwards, you can allow yourself to work on more specific points with the actors, imagine more ambitious plans… But do the essentials first.

For filming with a smartphone, I also advise you to favor static shots. Even with good equipment, sequences with camera movements are the most difficult to achieve. If some great directors like Steven Spielberg or David Fincher are big fans of camera movements for almost all their shots, others, like Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola, prefer to use them in moderation! This makes filming easier and allows you to focus on other aspects, such as frame composition   and acting. Above all, if you limit the camera movements to a few sequences, these will have more force than the others. A good way to play with the intensity and feelings of the viewer.

Accessories to make beautiful videos

Several accessories can help you to have a high-quality result, even with a smartphone. Here are some accessories that I highly recommend:

A rigid tripod: Indispensable for the realization of your still shots.

A flexible tripod: Convenient for attaching the smartphone to a particular support and even for your tracking shots. The flexible tripod + Samsung Galaxy S7 combo (equipped with an integrated stabilizer) allows stunning results)

Lenses: Wide angle lenses will allow you to reinforce the depth of field while telephoto lenses will allow you to film a precise point. Fisheye (and its unreal shapes) and Macro lenses (for very close-ups on very small details) also allow, in their own way, to give another cachet to your staging.

And among the stabilizers?

More and more models of stabilizers for smartphones make it possible to film moving shots without shaking. the incredible result, we really have the feeling that the camera is hovering. I was able to shoot with the SPG 3-axis stabilizer and I took quite a slap!

Cinema lessons from Michel Gondry

Michel Gondry made his entire short film Detour with an iPhone. He took the opportunity to contribute to six film lessons, which you can discover in the video below.

Final Words

These short film ideas will help you a great deal to make a fascinating film. You will not have to get any 3d movie maker to make a short film for you.

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