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Surprise hit movie from Sundance was shot entirely on an iPhone

Published Jan 29th, 2015 3:25PM EST
Sundance Tangerine Movie iPhone 5s

To prove how insanely dependable the iPhone 5s’ camera is, Apple shot entire commercials using the device in early 2014 before using Macs to edit the raw footage. While that was a marketing stunt, it doesn’t mean the iPhone can’t be used to shoot professional video, and one filmmaker proved just that at the Sundance Film Festival.

FROM EARLIER: The iPhone 6 might be low-res, but Apple’s highest-resolution device ever is coming soon

Filmmaker Sean Backer’s surprisingly popular film Tangerine was recorded entirely on the iPhone 5s, with the crew using just three phones. The move wasn’t supposed to be a marketing trick, as the team worked with a tight budget. Furthermore, the use of iPhones allowed Backer to shoot in public places, SlashFilm reports, without requiring special permits or permissions.

Even more interestingly, Backer did not tell anyone the movie had been shot using only iPhones until after Tangerine was shown to the audience.

In addition to the handset, the team also used various clip-on lenses for the camera, and an $8 application called FiLMiC Pro.

Actor James Ransone told The Verge he wasn’t too thrilled about starring in a movie shot on iPhones at first, but that he was eventually won over.

“I had some hesitancy about it, more out of pride,” Ransone said. “I’m like, Jesus Christ, man, I was on The Wire. I’ve ended up in iPhone movies!”

He continued, “There’s a lot that can be done with an iPhone,” the actor added, saying that the key to shooting Tangerine on iPhones was that the team actually had experience recording videos using traditional cameras. “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. You can’t just go out and shoot.”

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.