India's Top 100 Digital Stars 2023

Shot on iPhone: How this Apple became a go-to for independent filmmakers, photographers

Independent filmmakers and photographers have been enthusiastically using the iPhone to click photographs and even shoot short films that have gone on to win awards. It is the coming of age of the decade-long campaign 'Shot on iPhone' run by Apple

Naandika Tripathi
Published: May 4, 2023 10:37:16 AM IST
Updated: May 4, 2023 11:07:34 AM IST

Shot on iPhone: How this Apple became a go-to for independent filmmakers, photographers(From left: Wamiqa Gabbi, Ishaan Khatter and Salman Yusuff Khan) Fursat, a 30-minute short film, was shot entirely on iPhone 14 Pro by filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj; Image: Fursat

In February, a 30-minute film Fursat caught everyone’s attention on social media. It was shot entirely on an iPhone 14 Pro by filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj. Apple India released the movie on its official YouTube channel and it has garnered 144 million views so far.

The film was only the latest in a series of films that have been shot on the iPhone recently. Sci-fi filmmaker Arati Kadav has shot two short films using an iPhone. Her first one
55km/sec was shot completely remotely during the lockdown using the personal phones and recording devices of cast and crew of around 25 people from all walks of life. The Richa Chadha-starrer film is about two people who find a fragile connection just moments before a meteor hits Earth.

“While I directed over Zoom, the actors shot themselves with the help of another person on an iPhone. I was very happy with the outcome, and once the lockdown was over, I researched more about the iPhone, about Filmic Pro and jumped on to make the second film The Astronaut and His Parrot with it,” says Kadav, who was recently invited to meet Tim Cook during his visit to India.

Her short film The Astronaut and his Parrot was shot using iPhone 12 Pro Max and used Filmic Pro on it. It bagged her the best director award at the Fantasia International Short Film Competition. The movie, starring Ali Fazal, is about a space explorer who, due to an accident, has been adrift in the void with a low supply of oxygen. In his final moments in space, he tries to desperately send messages to his daughter via signals but they are received by a parrot in a fortune teller’s stall. “The Astronaut and His Parrot is a story of hope and connection,” Cook tweeted after meeting the filmmaker and calling her India’s best sci-fi filmmaker.

Shot on iPhone: How this Apple became a go-to for independent filmmakers, photographersFilmmaker Arati Kadav has shot two short films, including The Astronaut and His Parrot, using an iPhone

For Kadav, who uses a MacBook Pro for editing these films, there is hardly any difference between shooting on a camera and a phone. “The preparation was the same. But because we were shooting using the phone, we saved on camera hire costs, and the camera team as such was smaller. The rest was the same,” she says.

The iPhone has been an instrument of choice for photographers as well. Apple has been running its ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign for almost a decade. iPhone users are invited to share their best shots on Instagram or Twitter, and after an assessment of submissions by a panel of judges, a few are featured on billboards, Apple retail stores, and online.

#ShotOniPhone has been populated with 27.9 million posts (till April 30) on Instagram alone and is one of the most successful user-generated content campaigns that launched an online movement.

Besides, considering smartphone cameras have advanced so much that the pictures are as clear as a picture shot from camera, professional photographers too have been using the iPhone.

Delhi-based photographer Parul Sharma is an avid iPhone user. For her book Dialects of Silence: Delhi Under Lockdown, in which she documented what Delhi looked like after the lockdown began in March 2020, Sharma used iPhone 11 Pro to shoot the pictures. She managed to capture migrants leaving the city, Covid-19 patients being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and grim scenes at the crematoriums and graveyards.

She says she prefers the iPhone because of its originality, perspective, design and user-friendliness. But, she adds, “The biggest advantage of shooting on a phone is that it’s unobtrusive, not in your face. Specifically, while I was shooting during the Covid-19 pandemic, while I went to crematoriums or burial grounds, it was imperative that I respected the subject, their families, the sentiment, the sensitivity involved, and shooting from iPhone was of so much help because you could be there yet not there,” says Sharma, who upgrades her iPhone almost every year. Sharma has used iPhone 10,11,12,13 and is currently using iPhone 14 Pro Max. She also prefers editing images on iMac, MacBook and iPad.

Shot on iPhone: How this Apple became a go-to for independent filmmakers, photographersPhotographer Ritesh Uttamchandani used iPhone 5s and iPhone 6s to shoot images for his book The Red Cat and Other Stories, published in 2018; Image: Rishi Chowdhury

Ritesh Uttamchandani, who has been a photographer for two decades now, too has used iPhone 5s and iPhone 6s to shoot images for his book The Red Cat and Other Stories, published in 2018. The photobook features 98 images showcasing a raw glimpse of life in Mumbai. He prefers using the iPhone because of the speed, good interface and clarity. However, though he is currently using iPhone XS, he says he doesn’t completely rely on phone photography and prefers carrying his camera wherever he goes.

“I would love to use more Apple products apart from an iPhone but they are very expensive and technically challenging. A MacBook Pro given to me by the office was in repair for 10 months because certain parts were not available,” says Uttamchandani. 

But he hopes that with Apple manufacturing in India now, “they pass on some concessions to the consumers. If the prices will remain this high, chances are less for someone like me to switch to iOS products like Mac, iPad and so on”.

Post Your Comment
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated