What are good tips on how to shoot a short film with a smartphone camera?

The main thing is, start with a good simple but solid story, and plan out as much as you possibly can. Do shot lists, number your scenes, draw storyboards… basically, create your movie on paper before you shoot it. A fantastic and FREE tool that helps you do this is Celtx (https://www.celtx.com/index.html). This is what all great filmmakers do, and Hitchcock famously said that shooting the actual film after all the prep is done was the boring part.

Second, when you shoot, you can use the native camera app or you can use video apps with more advanced features (like higher frame rate, a “slate”, audio monitor, etc.) like FiLMiC Pro (http://www.filmicpro.com). Look around, there’s lots of great apps for your smartphone out there (I have an iPhone so I don’t know much about what apps are available for Android).

Third, you need good lighting and good sound, the two things that make a huge difference in shooting any film, large or small. Pick a good portable lighting kit from here (Amazon.com: videography lighting: Electronics (amazon.com)) and get a solid microphone that works with your phone (Like this one: http://tascam.com/product/im2/). Look into using a USB extension cord as well.

Finally, lock that smartphone down to reduce shake and wobble! Buy the Glif (http://www.studioneat.com/produc…) and/or this handle for “steadicam” shots: (http://www.amazon.com/i4software…)

I won’t recommend any editing software, as that tends to be a personal choice for most filmmakers, but I’m still amazed at how much you can do with the iMovie app… I’ve even used the iPhone version to quickly edit something and it worked great!

Good luck with your future filming endeavors!

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Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional and UX Lead for Microsoft based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.

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