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Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

Tag : filmmaking

On My Radar: iPhone filmmaking gadgets, tips and tricks

With the iPhone Film Festival in its second year (going down at MacWorld | iWorld from January 26-28 in 2012) and online video giant YouTube sinking millions into original content deals for mobile, it’s clear that there is a growing market for films — short and feature length — designed for on-the-go consumption.

Filmmaking for mobile devices has been around for a while; The Sundance Film Institute has sponsored mobile filmmaking since 2007 and AtomFilms was in the movies-for-all-screens game way back in 2006, when it announced AtomFilms To Go, a service aimed at users of video-capable portable media devices like the iPod and Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP). Free apps like Canada’s NFB Film offering give cinephiles access to thousands of movies whenever they want.

I knew about all of this at the time, bust still shied away from watching films from my phone. However, within the last year, I’ve been watching more films on my iPhone than on my TV. A new report from eMarketer reveals that by 2014, tablets will be in the hands of nearly 90 million Americans, representing about 36% of all Internet users and nearly 28% of the U.S. population. A big chunk of viewer habits on tablets and mobile devices is tied to video consumption. What changed?

The difference between now and then is that it’s simply easier and more enjoyable to watch films on the go. Apple’s App store gives you access to short and long form movies, TV series, music videos and more. The quality of the video being created on mobile devices for mobile devices has gone through the roof, thanks to improvements to optics (the iPhone 4S shoots 1080p HD video) and the social web has made it easier to find good films (watch it, love it, share it immediately with friends). Free tutorials have made DIY filmmaking school accessible to anyone with Internet access, which has improved amateur filmmaking by leaps and bounds.

DSLR cameras did lower filmmaking costs as well (I blogged about this in 2009), but with the right gadgets you can now make a film on your iPhone that rivals the image quality of a DSLR.

iPhone 4S / Canon 5d MKII Side by Side Comparison from Robino Films on Vimeo.

If you have a great idea, an iPhone and some time to shoot, edit and upload your vision, it’s even easier now to get that film in front of potentially millions of viewers. Here’s some info to get you started:


Joby’s GorillaMobile for iPhone 4 ($39.95 retail, $29.29 on Amazon)
This handy mini tripod can help you with those wide and static shots. If you want more flexibility (hanging upside down, working with ALL smartphones), try the Capta.

Suction Clip
Mount your iPhone pretty much wherever you want to get some interesting shots.

The Glif
This tripod mount allows you to attach your iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S to your existing tripod.

Owle Bubo
With this mount you can attach additional accessories to your iPhone, such as lenses, lights or tripods. Check out this BTS promo for a mobile series that used the Owle Bubo:

Goldilocks – Behind the Scenes Promo from Majek Pictures on Vimeo.

More gear:

EnCinema 35mm Lens Adaptor ($200 and up)
LitePanels Micro Light ($297.99 retail, $259.95 on Amazon)
Sennheiser EW112PG3A Wireless Mic Kit ($899.99 retail, $599.00 on Amazon)
Grippit Smartphone Adaptor ($9.99)
TreeFrog Camera Accessory Kit ($49.95 retail, $38.79 on Amazon)
Zacuto iPhone Point-n-Shoot ($121.00 retail, $114.95 on Amazon)

– via Handheld HollyWood


I have yet to find a useful iPhone filmmaking workflow guide for short or feature-length film production. Some factors to consider are power sources, backing up media, converting files and viewing “dailies” on location (if you plan on screening this in theaters, you don’t want to just playback on the iPhone).

I’ve heard that some people are having success with the FiLMiC Pro camera app on the iPhone 4S the FiLMiC EXTREME quality option, encoding to H.264 at 50Mbit and variable framerate set to 24p.

iPhone 4S for serious filmmaking (FiLMiC Pro) from Martin Wallgren on Vimeo.

Established filmmakers are creating their own successful iPhone workflows too. Earlier this year, South Korean film director Park Chan-wook shot a 33-minute film, “Paramanjang,” using Apple iPhones for cameras. According to CSM, Park quickly discovered, while using eight iPhone 4 cameras in two months of shooting, that the only real difference between making this film and a film with conventional cameras is the drastic reduction in costs. “I thought I could play with the camera,” he says, “but it was the same as making a regular movie. It takes just as much work as using normal cameras.”

I’m keeping a lookout for film schools and blogs covering iPhone filmmaking workflows and will update this section when I have more information. In the meantime, there are plenty of DSLR workflows out there and some of those steps can apply to your iPhone filmmaking needs.


Your distribution strategy for your iPhone-made film will depend on your business and creative goals. If you don’t care about making any money from your film and just want an audience, there are many sources beyond film festivals (digital and IRL) and YouTube to get exposure. Do some research online and start submitting your film today! The length, genre and quality of your film will determine which distribution partners will work with you. You should also considering submitting your film to iTunes, where you can sell it or give it away for free. You can find out about all kinds of specialized film festivals through, a resource for finding and submitting to film festivals worldwide.

If you are looking to take a more professional (monetizing your content) route, there are many companies that specialize in licensing mobile content or short form content for all screens. Some examples are SnagFilms (for documentary filmmakers), ShortsTV, partnering with or Roku (either creating your own channel or submitting content) and various distribution companies that specialize in short form content for all screens and/or mobile-specific content. When you work with acquisition and sales teams, it’s good to be buttoned up so getting advice from an entertainment attorney or someone you know who has been through the process will be crucial to your success. Whether or not these companies will partner with you will depend on many factors, such as if your film has done well at festivals, if you have established an audience, if your content fits into their revenue goals, etc.

I suggest picking up Swimming Upstream: A Lifesaving Guide to Short Film Distribution, you’ll be glad you did.


In this case in particular, there’s no definite list of steps that are going to work for everyone. Your promotion strategy for your iPhone film will be heavily informed by the actual content and your distribution strategy. Where will the film be so you can promote the details? Are you holding off on making the film available online until it premieres at a festival? If so, that doesn’t mean you have to keep everything else a secret too. You can launch a Facebook fan page and Twitter account revealing behind the scenes clips and details, share your progress and document your workflow. You’ll be surprised how much support you’ll get when you reveal helpful tips you learned through your process.

Let me know if I missed anything in the comments. What are you using to make your iPhone films?

Edit: Filmmaker Liz Nord referred me to The Disposable Film Festival for more info, which has been around since 2007. Thanks, Liz!

5 Rad Things: ‘Unicorns’ film progress, Sonic for iPhone, iPad 3 release date, Facebook’s Social Design Guidelines, and more

I’ve decided that (as part of this daily blogging experiment) I’m going to kick-off a “5 Rad Things” post that I’ll feature every Wednesday on The Lair.

Hump days are sometimes hard for me, so little factoids/delights that I manage to pluck from the web and turn around in my head are often just what I need to get me through them.

Here are 5 rad things that I’m going to “privately” (ha) obsess over today:

1. Sonic for iPhone

Did you know that Sonic 1, 2, and 4 are available for the iPhone? YES!!!! THEY ARE!!!!

Sonic the Hedgehog was the first game I really got into after Super Mario 3. The Sega Genesis console was the first game system I ever co-owned with my brother, and playing Sonic with him is a memory that brings me a lot of joy. I’m so excited about playing Sonic 1, 2, and 4 when I am on the subway while ignoring creepers. YAY!

If you’re a sneaky devil, there are *ahem* “ways” to get the games for free…. 😉 But you really should pay for them after you’ve tried them out. Developers need to eat too.

2. iPad 3 most likely delayed to 2012

Yup, most tech journalists and insider bloggers are saying that the iPad 3 shouldn’t be expected until March 2012. All you gadget heads out there are probably crying right now. Shaddup, ya babies! This is a good thing. I was actually considering getting the iPad 3 this fall, but now I’m glad it’s being delayed because hopefully that means the new version will role out with even more improved features.

Corvida Fellates Her New iPad 2
Corvida chews on her iPad 2 at a screening of “The Triplets of Belleville”

In our consumer culture, so many folks scramble to buy things they don’t really need. Apple counts on this to feed their bottom line by releasing “new” versions of the same product within months of each other, with only minor improvements. At this stage in my career, it benefits me to have an iPad so I can do product testing. However, it doesn’t benefit me to waste money. So I’m fine with borrowing my friend’s iPad 2 until the iPad 3 is released next year. No biggie.

3. Facebook Studio’s “Creatives Talk” series premieres today at 11am PST

From Cynopsis: Facebook Studio, the page on Facebook designed to share best practices for Facebook marketing from agency pros, is slated to launch a live Web series today at 11 a.m. pacific time called Creatives Talk. The show features interviews with creative thought leaders from fashion, TV, advertising, storytelling and more discussing their creative processes.

The first interview is with Brian Seth Hurst, CEO of the Opportunity Management Company, discussing marketing and multi-platform storytelling. You can watch on the Facebook Live tab on Facebook Studio.

4. Today Facebook released “Social Design Guidelines” on their developers site

Facebook has made it even easier for businesses and individuals alike to create their own engaging products for Facebook and to integrate Facebook into their multi-platform experiences. Check out the guidelines here. As you can see, there’s a very helpful section on plugins and mobile development.

5. I’m so proud of Leah for wrapping principle photography on “Unicorns” last month

Leah Meyerhoff is a friend I met through the Internet in 2008. I don’t remember how I found her, but I remember being struck by the content on her website and wanting to learn from her. I emailed her and she agreed to meet me in person. Since then, over the years I’ve volunteered my time during pre-production on her first feature “Unicorns” and learned a lot in the process. Her Flickr set alone is a wealth of information for first-time directors. Leah is a very loving, driven, and talented person and I’m grateful to know her.

About “Unicorns”
“I Believe In Unicorns” tells the story of an awkward teenage girl who escapes to a fantasy world when her first romantic relationship turns abusive. From Student Academy Award nominated director Leah Meyerhoff (Slamdance Grand Jury Prize winning short Twitch), executive producers Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging, Things Behind the Sun), David Kupferberg (Magic Valley) and Robin Leland (4th and Goal) and producers Heather Rae (Oscar nominated Frozen River) and Mark G. Mathis (Oscar winning Precious, Brick) Unicorns combines social and magical realism to address issues of teen dating violence from a new perspective.

Unicorns stars Natalia Dyer (The Greening of Whitney Brown), Peter Vack (I Just Want My Pants Back), Toni Meyerhoff (Twitch), Julia Garner (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project, Higher Ground) and Amy Seimetz (The Off Hours). A Sundance Lab finalist, Unicorns is a supported by an Emerging Narrative Filmmaker Grant from the Independent Feature Project and fiscal sponsorship from the San Francisco Film Society. Unicorns is currently shooting in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’m so happy that she’s reached this benchmark and that “Unicorns” will soon be a visual treat for anyone who can get to the big screen (and I’m sure other screen options as well 😉 ). Her newsletter say they are currently gearing up for an additional fantasy shoot and extensive stop motion animation before heading into post production. If you would like to get involved, contact her. They are also looking for an editor based in New York.

Please send recommendations to: info AT unicornsthemovie DOT com

To stick with my theme of rad things, I’ll end this post with her rad bio:

Leah Meyerhoff is a Slamdance Grand Jury Prize winner and Student Academy Award finalist currently pursuing an Masters in film at New York University. Her short film TWITCH has screened in over 200 film festivals, including Cannes, Palm Springs, Chicago International, Clermont-Ferrand, Newport International, Milan International and Woodstock. After winning a Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance and Best American Short at the Avignon Film Festival, TWITCH went on to become a finalist in the Student Academy Awards and win a dozen additional awards including Best of Fest at the Golden Star Shorts Fest, Best Female Director at the West Chester Film Festival, and an Honorable Mention at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

TWITCH was distributed domestically by IFC and internationally by Reelport and Skandinavia Television. Leah has since directed a Converse commercial and several music videos including TEAM QUEEN for Triple Creme, ETERNAL FLAME for Joan as Police Woman and LIKE OUR FATHERS for Luff, which have screened at dozens of film festivals including Frameline, Reeling, NewFest, and the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. TEAM QUEEN was a finalist for the Planet Out Awards, won Best Music Video at the Fort Worth LGBT Film Festival and is now airing on LOGO, while ETERNAL FLAME is on MTV Europe.

Leah has received press coverage from The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Film Threat and The San Francisco Chronicle among others. She was also profiled on the IFC docudrama series Film School, directed by Nanette Burstein. Leah graduated with Honors from Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in Art-Semiotics. She continued her studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before transferring to New York University where she is currently a Dean’s Fellow in Graduate Film. Leah has taught undergraduate film courses at New York University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, New York Film Academy, and Polimoda in Florence, Italy. She has also been on numerous filmmaking panels and was recently a jury member for Slamdance and HollyShorts, as well as a current programmer for Rooftop Films.

Leah is currently working on her first feature film, a Sundance Lab finalist and IFP grant winner called UNICORNS.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Pre-Production Tips: Top 10 Questions For 1st ADs or Producers to Ask (Themselves & Directors)

I came up with this list while joining a production that was halfway through shooting. The producer had quit earlier on and the former 1st AD, whom I was replacing, was unavailable due to a family emergency. You can use this list to help you transition into a production that has already started or as a reference point in the beginning.

My list implies that this is a low budget film and that the director may also be the producer (using his/her own funds). In any case, these questions are great to consider no matter what the budget is. These questions also assume that you’ve already established a production/shooting schedule.

image via metroscreen‘s Flickr

Top 10 Questions For 1st ADs or Producers to ask THEMSELVES

1. Who will drive — what (vehicles) and where to?

2. Are all crew positions filled for each day and if not, what will be my process for hiring in the midst of everything else?

3. What time does holding need to open (at each holding/each location/each day)?

4. Which crew members do I need to arrive first at holding each day and why?

5. What preparations do I need to take for crew accommodations for each day? (hotel rooms, flights, etc.)

6. Who am I using for crafty each day and how can I make sure that crew isn’t eating the same meal all the time?

7. Are all extras and featured extras confirmed for each location for each shoot day, and if not, what is my strategy for making this happen (if casting support is nonexistent)?

8. Are all locations CONFIRMED and do I hold copies of permits/related paperwork and all relevant contact info?

9. Do I have access to petty cash for each day IN ADVANCE and have I made sure there is a process for all departments to receive? (Do I also have accounting/financial related duties?)

10. Equipment rental: Do I have all contact info for all houses and information on their rates, requirements and return deadlines?

image via destinydesign‘s Flickr

Top 10 Questions For 1st ADs or Producers to ask DIRECTOR

1. Are there unscheduled scenes that require me to find additional elements (crew, locations, extras, props, etc.)?

2. Who is the DIT (Digital Intermediary Technician if shot on digital) and has he/she been briefed on his responsibilities/your preferred workflow method?

3. Are you still making changes to the script mid production and what can we do to make sure we stay on schedule? (offer options such as alternative shooting schedules, cutting scenes, etc.)

4. If you end up insisting on exceeding a 12 hour day, what are your thoughts on how we make it up to crew? (offer options such as additional pay, later call times, hard out rules, etc.)

5. Do your actors have any other obligations during this shoot/have they been asked? (auditions, doctor appointments, etc.)

6. Permits: If you insist we don’t need them, what can we do to ensure that we don’t end up being asked to leave a location (offer options like polite ways to lockdown sound, notifying neighbors/writing letter to city hall, requesting “don’t do” requirements from location contacts)?

7. Do you have production/vehicle insurance and what are their contact details (if they don’t, explain the benefits of having it)?

8. Have you already determined a payment/reimbursement process for crew? (if not, offer options)

9. Petty Cash: Can we have a lump sum to disseminate amongst departments and have them return change with receipts at end of each day or shoot?
(avoid having to approach director/producer for money each time it is needed)

10. Are there any personality conflicts that I should be aware of?

These questions only represent a minuscule fraction of what you need to keep track of before, during and after production, but they are a great place to start. Share your own lists of questions in the comments.