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A Hit Film at Sundance This Year Was Filmed Entirely With iPhones and an $8 App

The director says he used iPhones as a cost-cutting measure, not as a gimmick for publicity.
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Tangerine iPhone Movie

The iPhone has matured a great deal since its debut in 2007. As a result, these days it's no surprise to find both amateur and professional cinematographers relying on Apple's wonder phone for their projects.

The latest to join the pack of iPhone-produced works is Tangerine, a Sundance hit that tells the story of a transgender prostitute in search of the pimp who double-crossed her. According to director Sean Baker, the movie was shot entirely with three iPhone 5s phones, an $8 app called FiLMic Pro, some Steadicam mounts, and a prototype clip-on anamorphic lens built specifically for the iPhone.

While some may see the director's choice of camera as a desperate plea for attention, Baker insists iPhones were chosen as both a cost-saving measure and to allow for better mobility, particularly when shooting in public places like inside a Los Angeles bus. As it turns out, it's easier to shoot in public places with an iPhone than it is with professional equipment, the latter of which requires special permits and permissions.

While Tangerine isn't the first major film to be shot with Apple's handheld, it is the first Sundance Film to rely on Apple's device. In the past, other films have relied partially or entirely on the iPhone including 2013's Oscar-winning documentary, Searching for Sugarman. For a more in-depth look at Tangerine, be sure to check out Variety's full take and a YouTube interview with the cast.

What do you think, reader? Does Tangerine show just how far smartphones have come, or is this a gimmick? Let us know in the comments below.


Senior Writer Emeritus

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
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