The Age of Smartphone Filmmaking

In this age, everyone is a director...


Smartphone film may be the next big thing in the film industry. For some, it’s already a groundbreaker in the age of technology and increasing demand for content by the audience. High costs of producing films may be a reason behind the emergence of smartphone filmmaking but a bigger chunk of accolades should go to innovations in the smartphone industry.

Smartphones have become the best thing to come out of technology advancements in the 21st century. A small gadget in your pocket allows you to connect to anyone on any part of the world. Lately, smartphone manufactures are battling it out for the best photo capture abilities with latest iPhone models having high definition qualities (4K). Phone companies are making high quality cameras to fulfil the need for better photos and videos by online users.

Smartphone filmmaking refers to the managing of different production elements, such as shooting and editing, using a smartphone. With editing apps such as iMovie on iPhone models, you can edit your videos on your phone to Hollywood standards. Smartphone filmmaking goes beyond using the phone’s camera features as other regular users would do. To use your phone as a high definition camera, you need to understand the technical aspects of smartphone filming and apply creative angles to get the best out of your shoot.

If you don’t think smartphone film has arrived, there is already a movie out produced by a high-end smartphone. In March 2018, Steven Soderbegh released a movie ‘Unsane’ which was shot on a phone. This brought down the production costs to around $1.2 million (120 million shillings). This is not the first movie ground-breaking smartphone film; other movies such as ‘Tangerine’ and ‘I Play with the Phrase Each Other’ were pioneer movies in the world of smartphone film. Some of the scenes from Oscar winning documentary, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ were recorded by a smartphone app.

Smartphones have grabbed the attention of Hollywood studios.


Some years back it was difficult to believe that high-end movies could be produced by a phone. The introduction of the 4K resolution has revolutionized the way phone cameras are utilized. With affordable camera rigs designed for phones and several accessible film applications, it’s much easier to shoot a film today thanks to the available resources.



In this age, everyone is a director. That might undermine the professional artist but a professional may still outshine the smartphone amateur by the concept, editing skills and sound. This sends a message; if you’re creative, there is no room for excuses, you can produce a film on a shoestring budget.

Here are some tips for people planning to venture into smartphone filmmaking.


Companies are nowadays making accessories to fulfil the demand for such products to aid in the production of films. For that reason, you can get accessories from tripods, sliders to high quality stabilizers and lenses to improve your smartphone recording experience.



There are a variety of smartphone filmmaking apps which are accessible on iPhones and Android-based phones. Zoom enhancement apps, viewfinder apps, and editing apps are available to help you spruce up your video content.


The reality is that the quality of video shot on your phone is not better than the one shot on an Arri Alexa camera but its good and many film festivals around the world accept submission of smartphone films. The quality of visuals is not as important as the weight of your story. Tell an intriguing story and people will be glued to your work.


Let’s face it, not all smartphone apps have the best camera recording abilities. An iPhone 7 which has a high resolution goes for $900 (90 thousand shillings) but there are cheaper phones which can produce quality content.

You should consider limitations when shooting on a smartphone such as storage, power consumption, available frame rates, and software.

When shooting with a smartphone, you need equipment such as condenser and lavaliere microphones, smartphone grip and video light. The number of equipment depends on the scope of your project. You can get these from online sites at affordable rates.

Smartphone filmmaking is an advantage to filmmakers because smartphones are light and portable which makes moving easier. With decent image quality and apps which give you control, smartphone film is a blessing to starting producers.

The art is not sacred. Smartphones have low dynamic range and its difficult to control the image even on app. The phone may overheat and the battery doesn’t last long when shooting.

If you’re wondering where to start as a smartphone film creator, there are major smartphone film festivals that may be a stepping stone to the global stage. Toronto Film Festival in Canada, Mobile Motion Film Festival in Zurich, Switzerland, and African Smartphone Film Festival which covers African countries.

In Kenya, The Kenya Smartphone Film Competition has been running for three years. The initiative by Alliance Françoise and the French Embassy is open for everyone above 18 years, both amateurs and professionals. The competition is aimed at providing an opportunity for youth to showcase their creativity and practice.