Make Your Smartphone Smarter: What Goes in Your iPhone Filmmaking Kit?

“Shot on a smartphone” rarely means just a smartphone. So what goes in your kit? Director Ricky Fosheim, of the entirely iPhone-shot feature And Uneasy Lies the Mind, walks us through his favorite hardware and software for efficient, low-budget smartphone filmmaking.

Two years ago a group of friends asked me to direct an indie feature they had written called And Uneasy Lies the Mind. Their David Lynch-inspired script called for a very unconventional aesthetic. After research and testing, I fell in love with the look and feel of the iPhone 5 images when attached to a 35mm lens adapter, shooting through 35mm lenses. It was grainy, textured, heavily vignetted and saturated, with high contrast.

An iPhone’s unique characteristics are its size, ease of use, high-contrast image, and adaptability to all sorts of aftermarket lenses. Sure, you’re not going to shoot Lawrence of Arabia with your smartphone, but in the right context, it can make for powerful, cutting-edge cinema. And the recently released iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with their 240-fps-capable cameras, have just opened up a wealth of new possibilities. Make the most of your phone’s versatility with the following tools, many of which I used on my own set.

Lenses and Adapters

There are so many different lens options out there: spherical clip-on lenses, anamorphic clip-on lenses, and 35mm lens adapters. The Nikon NIKKOR lenses are fairly expensive, so renting is a good idea. If you want to go really high-end, rent the Zeiss CP.2 lenses. Make sure you get cinema lenses with external iris and focus control, unlike the common modern Nikon and Canon glass meant for DSLR cameras.

Five percent of And Uneasy Lies the Mind was shot with Olloclip lenses—the wide-angle and macro lens in particular, the latter of which magnifies an image 10 times. We shot the entire opening and closing title sequences with the macro lens, putting the lens into liquid and getting less than an inch away from what we were shooting. As these lenses are so cheap, we weren’t worried about putting them in situations where they might get harmed. They are available for numerous phone models, and you can pre-order lenses for the iPhone 6…

Read the rest of this article and check out the bonus video from MovieMaker Mag.