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iPhone 5s used to shoot first iPhone movie gets a place in history

Published Dec 19th, 2017 10:31PM EST
Tangerine iPhone 5s
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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Remember Tangerine, the movie that premiered at the 2015 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, receiving praising reviews? It also happens to be the first motion picture that was shot entirely on iPhones, at a time where the iPhone 5s was one of the most advanced cameras around.

One of the three iPhone 5s smartphones that were used to make Tangerine just made history, as it was donated to the Academy Museum.

Director Sean Baker revealed some of Tangerine’s production secrets in a video for the museum. The team worked with three iPhones using special add-ons lenses and tripods, as well as camera apps to record the video. This allowed the director to move around freely and quickly capture scenes from various angles.

Shooting the entire thing on iPhones was a lot cheaper than using traditional cameras, allowing the production team to spend the tight budget on other movie-related costs, including extras and shooting locations.

As for the three iPhone 5s units that Baker used, the director says he sold one of them to pay rent, holding on to the remaining two. Of those, he agreed to donate one to the museum.

Tangerine isn’t the first instance where professionals used an iPhone for video recording purposes. We’ve seen entire commercials shot on iPhones, including Apple ads. But Tangerine will always be remembered as the first movie that was shot entirely using iPhones.

Since then, Apple has significantly upgraded the camera abilities of its iPhones, so don’t be surprised if you hear about more filmmakers revert to iPhones to shoot commercials and full feature films.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.