The Feature Film That Blew Everyone Away at Sundance Was Shot on an iPhone 5s

What does it take for a film to be a huge hit at Sundance, nab a distribution deal, and get a nationwide theatrical release? Big Hollywood stars? Mass appeal? Expensive professional equipment?

Short answer — no!

Director Sean Baker’s feature film Tangerine, which got picked up by Magnolia Pictures, is one of the most talked-about films at the Festival this year even though it doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a buzzworthy entry. Firstly, it features unknown actors; no Kristen Wiigs, no Ethan Hawkes. Secondly, it’s a story about two transgender women on a Christmas Eve odyssey through the many subcultures of L.A. to “get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor.” So, mass appeal? No. (V appeal? Hell yes.) Lastly, it wasn’t shot using an expensive, top of the line cinema camera. In fact, it was shot using the device I use every day to take notes, check emails, and dodge calls from bill collectors.

That device, of course, is the iPhone 5s. Tangerine was shot completely on the Apple device, but this smartphone camera setup also included the 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter from Moondog Labs, the FiLMiC Pro app, and external recording devices. Sound mixer Irin Strauss shared on Twitter how they went about recording the audio on a dual system with an SD 664, lavs, and boom mics…

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