Shoot Movies With Your Smartphone Guerrilla Style – 7 Great Tips

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Smartphone Filmmaking Guerrilla Style – Making features regardless of the length is hard. If you are making a full-length feature, you need investors with deep pockets, and an A-list cast and crew to get the job done right. 

But, if you are an independent filmmaker with an amazing script, a talented group of local actors, and a crew that will stick with you until the end, you can still get the job done right with some help along the way.

For big-time film productions, there is so much to worry about. Do you have the right permits to shoot at a particular location? Do you have the right filmmaking equipment from all the departments ready for the first day of shooting? Does the cast understand their characters and know their lines? The list goes on and on.

Now, If you are shooting an independent feature long or short, on a smaller scale with just a smartphone, portable lighting and sound equipment, and the crew to back you up, you can complete your feature, just exploit your weaknesses into your strengths. 

What do I mean by that? When you are shooting guerrilla style, you will have to understand your limitations and be creative to find ways around your limitations to complete your film.

In this article, I will give the smartphone filmmaker looking for ways to shoot a feature film advice on how to complete a film and roll with the punches along the way.

Here are 7 Great Tips On How To Shoot Movies With Your Smartphone Guerrilla Style and be creative around your limitations.

Related Article: 10+ Best On Set Production Gear Tools For Filmmakers – 2021

cinematic video
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Mobility Is An Asset

Smartphone Camera Accessories - 10+ Best for Video Creators

If you are shooting a feature on a smartphone, the huge advantage is the ability to film almost anywhere. Smartphone gear is small inconspicuous. If you are filming on a busy street, people walking by you can mistake you for being a tourist not knowing that you are filming a scene from a feature you are making.

For example, when the feature-length film Tangerine was being filmed on the streets of LA, most of the public around the actors did not even know a film was being shot. That is a huge asset to your production value at little to no cost to you. 

Another bonus, when you are shooting a smartphone film guerilla style, is you don’t need a lot of crew to film. All you really need to cut costs on production is the front of camera talent, a director, director of photography, and a sound person. 

With a minimalistic crew means you can move quickly and film in many locations and do multiple set-ups at breakneck speed. This means that your shooting schedule will be tighter and will keep your costs low. 

Related Article: 5 Important Steps To Set Up Your Smartphone For Video Filmmaking

Equipment Costs Are Very Low

Guerrilla Style filmmaking

If you want to shoot a film with a smartphone, you don’t need a lot of filmmaking gear to get the job done right. 

If you are shooting a drama, all you need is a tripod with a Smartphone tripod adaptor for static set-ups, and maybe a rig to hold lights and microphones. If you are looking to add tracking shots to your scenes, adding a simple gimbal is extremely useful to help with the run and gun, guerrilla style shooting. 

The great thing about smartphone equipment is that it’s inexpensive, and will improve your film look and feel. Filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh and Zack Synder have shot films with Apple iPhones with minimal equipment and achieved amazing results. 

Related Article: 7+ Best Tips On How To Make A Smartphone Movie For TV & Cinema

A do-everything, go-anywhere kit that’s been expertly crafted for mobile content creators, the GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging kit lets you rig up your phone and give your content real impact. You’ll have everything you need in one box.

Includes:

  • Gorilla Pod Mobile Rig
  • Beamo Mini LED
  • Wavo Mobile microphone
  • Audio cable for mobile phone & camera
  • Apple MFI certified lightning connector

Sound Is Key

Guerrilla Style filmmaking

While today’s smartphones can shoot amazing 4K videos, the built-in microphone on smartphones are not the best. That’s why it’s important to your guerrilla style smartphone filmmaking to add some high-quality microphones to your smartphone equipment kit to record great sound. 

The good news about these add-on microphones for smartphone filmmaking is they are inexpensive and capture fantastic sound. 

Just do yourself a favor and not cut corners with the quality of your microphones and sound recording equipment. An audience can forgive poor picture quality, but not poor sound.

There are fantastic add-on microphones by Rode microphones that can help with your smartphone audio. 

Brands like Rode offer shotgun microphones that can be attached to a smartphone and even have wireless lavalier microphones that are a great solution if you want to keep your actors and crew mobile. Grab a few of these along with a four-channel portable audio recorder from Zoom or Tascam, and you are in business.

Related Article: Best iPhone Microphones For Smartphone Filmmaking

Use All The Lighting Sources Around You

8 Important Low Budget Filmmaking Tips For Beginners

With guerilla style smartphone filmmaking, you will need to use whatever sources of light are around you to achieve the atmosphere you are looking for.

To achieve great lighting for an independent film or even a big-budget production, try to shoot as much as you can in daylight. By shooting during daylight and adding a few portable LED lights with a diffuser and a bounce board, you can deliver to achieve amazing results. The great thing about a portable lighting kit and using the natural light sources available, everything can be packed into a carry-on backpack for easy transport.

If you are shooting indoors, make sure you turn on any lamps or other available lighting sources in the area to help you film your scene. Lighting doesn’t have to be a major expense to your budget, just add a good director of photography to your crew, and they can help you make magic happen.

Related Article: Smartphone Camera Accessories – 10+ Best for Video Creators

Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, James Cameron, and more.

Script and locations

How to Write a Short Film Script

Regardless of the budget, every film needs a great script. There are so many films in recent history where the idea was better than the script and went nowhere in the box office. Words put on paper, don’t make a great script, no matter how much money is thrown into the production.

A great script will capture the attention of your audience. Take the time to write and edit. The planning stages of film production don’t cost you anything if you have a job that pays the bills, so take time to write your script and do several drafts. Always share your drafts with your friends, so they can let you know what works and what doesn’t work in the script. Having someone read your screenplay can help you uncover amazing ideas to add to your screenplay to make your screenplay better. 

Also, when you are writing your screenplay always keep in mind the locations that will be used in your film so you don’t have many location changes throughout the film. Location changes cost you time and money when it comes to guerilla style filmmaking.

Write your script in a way that you can maximize single locations and talent you have available. You may be unable to get the locations you want, but if you are creative in your available location choices, it can make your film stand out from others.

Side Note: I know there are many great screenwriting programs available today to help you with the proper formatting of a screenplay, but I would suggest biting the bullet and purchasing Final Draft (Click Here) for your scriptwriting needs. I have used Final Draft for years, as it’s the industry standard and has valuable production tools built-in for better planning of your film.

Related Article: 3 Best Ways To Stabilize Smartphone Video – Smartphone Filmmaking

Find some talented local actors

directing actors

You may not be able to find a-list actors for your first features, but that shouldn’t stop you from finding great talent in front of the camera. No matter what city you live in, there is always a pool of talent that you can draw from in terms of casting the right actors for your roles.

Reach out to local drama schools and post-casting calls on Facebook, because there are tons of actors looking for projects that can help launch their acting career.

Sure you can cast your friends and family in your film, but they may be unable to deliver the performance you need compared to the talent you can cast from a drama school.

Related Article: Best Anamorphic Lenses For Smartphones: Moment Vs. Moondog Labs Vs. Ulanzi Compared

Find The Right Software To Get The Job Done

7+ Best Tips On How To Make A Smartphone Movie For TV & Cinema

When it comes to guerrilla style smartphone filmmaking, you will need some tools besides filmmaking gear to complete your film. The first tool that is very important in achieving a cinematic look to your film is Filmic Pro. 

Filmic Pro is a video camera apps that unlock the full video potential of your smartphone. With Filmic Pro installed you can control the ISO, focus, resolution, and frame rate of your Smartphone. While the application may feel a little overwhelming at the start, there are many youtube tutorials on how to use Filmic Pro that can make you master the program in no time. 

The next piece of software you will need to complete your guerrilla style smartphone film is the right editing program. There are many great editing suites available today that can get the job done right for any filmmaker. If you want a robust editing suite, I suggest purchasing the monthly subscription of the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, which allows you to access all of Adobe’s editing applications. 

If you are on a budget, editing programs like DaVinci Resolve offer fully-featured free editing packages that allow pack a punch.

Related Article: 10 Tips For Shooting Great Smartphone Photos – Beginners Guide

Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, James Cameron, and more.

Summary

I hope these tips on guerrilla style filmmaking for your smartphone get you inspired to make the best possible film you can create on a budget you can afford. Just remember when it comes to guerrilla style filmmaking mobility is an asset to complete your masterpiece.

Plus with the right lighting tools, sound gear, great script, great locations, talented actors, and the right software, you will be an unstoppable force during your guerrilla style film. Now go out a start filming!!!

If you liked this article, please help me share it via a tweet, stumble, pin, or Facebook share would be much appreciated! 

About the author: Trent (Imdb | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

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