How To Shoot A Professional Level Film Using Your Phone

Smartphone camera film

So, do you want to produce a movie on a limited budget? In fact, ideally, you want to do so using your cellphone? You’d be pleased to know that not only is this plausible, but it’s also entirely possible, such are the advances in the technology available from the palm of your hand.

We’ve come a long way from filming with cameras that could barely fit into one room to using handheld video cameras to using the phone you use on a daily basis. The speed with which we’ve moved in this area is frankly frightening, and it’s almost entirely due to the demands we have placed on the devices we spend all day attached to.

Smartphones are improving every year, and the cameras that they come with are getting more and more advanced. This means that now is the best time ever to consider shooting your film via your handheld device.


Here are a handful of tips for shooting your professional-level film using your phone.

Shooting With Your Camera

Filming with your camera, especially for the purposes of something more substantial than an Instagram post, requires you to shoot in landscape. So remember to turn your phone accordingly.

One big bonus of using your camera to film your production is that you can rack up as many takes as you wish. Keep filming until you get the shot you require.


A significant factor when it comes to filming with your phone is stabilization. Sure, you might want to deliberately make your film feel like it’s shot in a guerilla style (maybe you fancy yourself as the next Paul Greengrass), but you might also want things to be smoother and less jerky.

Invest in a solid and sturdy tripod. Yes, this will limit the type of shots you can record, panning or tilting being two types, but on the whole, this will make things appear more professional in nature.

Most smartphones also include an OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) feature, which looks to counteract movement, though it can sometimes overly compensate.


Great Music for Your Project

Using your phone to capture the visuals for your film is just one part of the overall process; another is the music you choose to accompany the world you are creating. If you want to score your project professionally, then it’d be best to opt for using royalty-free music to help avoid the never-ending search for copyright-free music that doesn’t really exist.

Royalty-free music providers will give you an infinite resource of material to help complete your soundtrack, making it easier to find tracks to convey the mood and vibe of your film.

Additionally, you’ll be able to use their sizable SFX libraries to help complete the high-quality production values of your piece.


Consider Investing In Additional Sound Equipment

Yes, you are filming with your smartphone, but you don’t have to use the microphone that comes with it. Most phones don’t have great microphones, and investing in an inexpensive shotgun mic could help make your production appear more technically proficient.

Check Your Phone’s Camera Settings

Your phone should give you the option to choose a resolution before you film. These may be 1080 HD all the way up to 4K; pick one that suits your needs. When it comes to frame rate settings, and these can be anything from 24fps to 60, the higher the number, the smoother your filming will look.

Be aware that the settings you choose will influence the overall file size of your video.


Try Your Phone’s Time-Lapse Tool

Most smartphones offer great video features, and one of these, time-lapse, where a lower frame rate is used so that when played at a normal rate, it looks much faster. This can produce a compelling effect when done correctly.

Shoot From Many Angles

One big advantage of using a phone to shoot your film is the fact that you can move it around to capture scenes and footage from several angles. This means you can quickly run different takes of the same sequence and then pick one that works best.

Don’t Zoom

When you zoom using your smartphone camera, regardless of how good your phone is, the quality of the recording suffers. Your phone almost certainly uses digital zoom and not optical; this means you are only enlarging the picture and increasing its pixelation. If you want to zoom, just move nearer to the subject of your shot.


Be Aware of Lighting

The camera on your phone won’t be great at capturing footage that isn’t naturally lit, so shoot in areas with good lighting. By this, we mean shooting in locations with even lighting and don’t point your camera directly at bright light sources.


When filming in landscape mode, try to fill the entire screen with usable material. Your phone camera app should offer gridlines, and that will make it easier to frame your subject. Ideally, they will be slightly off-center for a more interesting perspective.

Post Production

One way of making up for any flaws or issues that occur in shooting your movie with a smartphone is to invest in excellent post-production software. If you get an editing program that offers great tools to accentuate and improve the footage you’ve put together, this may well help to reduce any issues with the filmed material you captured on your phone.


Have Fun

Shooting a film with your smartphone means you can play around a lot more. Nothing has to be set in stone before you hit record, have fun with it. Don’t be constrained by anything other than the limits of your imagination.