These days, there’s a lot you can do with an iPhone and your imagination.
If there’s anything the last decade has taught us about creativity and technology, it’s that the limit barely exists anymore. If Hemingway (allegedly) changed flash fiction with his six-word “novel” about unworn baby shoes, Vines and vlogs have similarly changed our perception of what a video that’s a few minutes — or even six seconds — long can do.
For the second year in a row, the “Do You Have a Minute?” competition of Power Mac Center’s Pixelworx: Cinemansanas implored aspiring filmmakers to create and send in digital short films. The catch: They had to be shot and edited using only Apple devices, and they could not run for longer than 60 seconds.
For Don Diaz, who won first place for his short Balat Sibuyas, which centers on a group of friends slowly brought to tears, the one-minute runtime was the primary challenge. “Na-realize ko [eventually] na wala sa ikli or haba ang ganda ng isang istorya,” he recalls. “It’s how you approach and plan how to capture your audience.”
According to Winston Salvejos, whose short Mayo Uno revolves around a superstitious belief about destiny and marriage, the key to a good short film is a detailed plan — and a twist. “My mind starts working once I have the idea,” he shares. “I love it when the predictable becomes unpredictable.”
The winners all used their iPhones for filming. “What I like about using a smartphone was the freedom to shoot,” says Krista Ortega, who won for An Artist Ode, about a young artist struggling with depression. Phones, she adds, are less intimidating and more convenient; easier to whip out anywhere. And it’s not a question of good quality, either. “With technology today, smartphone cameras are getting better and better, making it easier for people to create more content, and this speaks a lot about the future of filmmaking.”
“It can become a reliable tool for a starting filmmaker,” agrees Winston. Don adds: “Pinakamaganda sa lahat, handa ka anytime if may kailangan i-shoot or magandang pagkakataon na gusto mo i-share sa lahat.”
In creating her film, Krista chose the best pieces of dialogue and footage from what she shot. “Make sure every frame is engaging,” she says. “It really helps you become more particular with what you want your story to express.”
For Don, it’s all about practicality: using airplane mode to save battery life and to avoid distractions, and making sure the lighting and coloring are consistent. Investing in gear like lapel microphones, tripods, gimbals, and sliders will give your work a professional edge. Manual settings, meanwhile, allow you to anticipate possible effects on the fly such as slow-motion.
It also pays to learn the limitations of an iPhone and to use them to your advantage. “When you have a tool, learn to use it well and don’t be afraid to explore this medium,” Krista says. Get creative and be resourceful. The limited budget isn’t restricting if you make it your friend. “You don’t always need a high-end camera to make a good film,” she adds. “Quality does make a difference, but content is important as well, [and] execution is another thing.”