Skip to content

THROWBACK FRIDAY: Sean Baker: ‘Tangerine’ How to Shoot a Sundance Hit on Your iPhone

Please note: Throwback Fridays are archival episodes from the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. After many requests from the IFH Tribe to bring back some of the show’s best episodes, I decided to create Throwback Fridays. These episodes will not be posted every week but at least twice a month…if not more. There’s so much amazing info and knowledge bombs in many of these past episodes and I don’t want them to be lost in the sea of IFH Content so I’ll be putting a spotlight on them in Throwback Fridays. Enjoy!

Sean Baker: ‘Tangerine’ How to Shoot a Sundance Hit on Your iPhone

I’ve recently been looking and studying alternative shoot methods to shoot a feature film. One name that keeps coming up is Sean Baker. His ground-breaking film Tangerine made more noise at the Sundance Film Festival  than the winner that year. The film was also produced by the indie film legends, Jay and Mark Duplass.

Tangerine was shot completely on an iPhone. Yes, an iPhone. The great thing was that after his Sundance screening no one in the audience or at the film festival knew that the film was shot on an iPhone.

What I respect about Sean Baker as a filmmaker is that he didn’t focus on the technology when promoting his film, he let the story, actors and film speak for itself. If you haven’t seen Tangerine you are missing out. Take a look at the RED BAND trailer below.

I wanted to put together a post that highlighted what can be done with minimal filmmaking tech and a great story. Sean Baker has definitely what can be done in today’s filmmaking world.

Below are a ton of videos explaining the process Sean Baker and his director of photography Radium Cheung, HKSC went through making Tangerine, as well as a bunch of video explaining tips and tricks on how to turn something you shot on an iPhone into cinematic gold. Enjoy my conversation with Sean Baker.

Right-click here to download the MP3 
Download on iTunes Direct
Watch on IFH YouTube Channel

Download ALL the 2016-2018

Television Pilot Scripts

We are in a new golden age of television. Learn from some of the best writers working in Hollywood today. Read, Learn, Write!

Just sign up below to gain instant access. No SPAM EVER!



  1. BlackBox – Make Passive Income From Your Footage
  2. Amazing Music Tracks – Royalty Free Music Licensing
  3. Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons 
  4. Martin Scorsese Film Directing Masterclass
  5. Werner Herzog Filmmaking Master Class
  6. Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting Master Class
  7. (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)


  1. IFH MASTERS CIRCLE – Filmmaking Community`
  2. IFH’s Online Film School
  3. Six Secrets to get into Film Festivals for FREE!

Action Items:

Filming A Movie On An iPhone
Lessons from TANGERINE Filmmaker Sean Baker 

The Tools Sean Baker Used to Make Tangerine:

Moondog Labs 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter for iPhone 5s (this gave them around a 2.40:1 aspect ratio from the original 16:9)

FiLMiC Pro App (this helped lock exposure, focus, white balance, but also gave them better compression)

Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 5/5s

Sennheiser ClipMic digital Mobile Recording Microphone for iOS Devices

Take a look at this ASC article about how they decided on the amazing look for the film:

It was during prep that Sean Baker discovered another key component of the movie’s look: its saturated color.  Sean Baker says.

“The sort of films I make have this urban social-realist thing. What I normally do is drain the color because for some reason, that adds to the reality.”


All photos courtesy of Sean Baker

All photos courtesy of Sean Baker

But after trying that with test footage in Final Cut Pro, he thought about other options.

“Because these women are so colorful, I decided to try going the other way, and I tried pumping up the saturation instead. Almost immediately, I was sold. One movie critic called it ‘pop vérité,’ and that was exactly the combination I was looking for.”

For the 22-day shoot, cinematographer Radium Cheung, HKSC brought only three battery-operated Rosco LitePads — 1’x1’, 6”x12” and 3”x12” Cheung says,

“Just to be able to fill in and add some eyelight every now and then.”

Bounce material picked up at a 99-Cents Only Store was used occasionally.

“We had no C-stands, no conventional movie lights. We staged our actors with existing light on locations, to some degree, and I turned those existing lights on and off selectively.”

Shooting with Only iPhones on the Sundance Hit Film ‘Tangerine’

An interview with Director of Photography Radium Cheung, HKSC about his work on the film ‘Tangerine’ and what it was like to shoot on the iPhone 5s.

iPhone 6 Filmmaking Tips and Tricks

Behind the scenes look at my iPhone 6 video demonstration with some tips and tricks for mobile filmmaking.

 How To Get Cinematic on a Cell Phone

You don’t need an expensive camera to get cinematic shots. Check out these techniques to help you get movie-like shots on your cell-phone.

You don’t always need a Red Camera, in fact, we shot this only on the Red and the iPhone 6+, some shots on each look great, some don’t. That’s because it doesn’t matter which camera you use, it matters on how you use them.

Related: Award Winning iPhone Filmmaking Master Class

Turn your iPhone into a filmmaking machine!

Here is a quick review of the AWESOME iOgrapher Filmmaking Case. by MobileReviewsEh
The iOgrapher Filmmaking Case for iPhone 6/6S is a case for your iPhone that comes with multiple attachment points for tripods, lights and microphones. With this entire setup, you could easily replace your DSLR’s with an iPhone. I’ve been doing it for the last week and I can tell you its definitely worth it. Check out the video below.

Shoot a Film With an iPhone and FiLMiC Pro!

Today we create a short sketch using an iPhone as our only camera! Then, we show you how to get that kind of quality from your cell phone!



Also check out KENZO “Snowbird” a movie by Sean Baker

KENZO presents a new film by the acclaimed writer/director, Sean Baker, entitled “Snowbird”, featuring the KENZO Spring-Summer 2016 collection from Creative Directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim.

“Snowbird” stars Abbey Lee in her latest role since appearing in the blockbuster “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Abbey Lee plays ‘Young Theo’, a young woman living in a remote desert community.

Sean Baker wrote and directed this original short for KENZO and shot the film entirely on iPhone.

If you liked Sean Baker: ‘Tangerine’ How to Shoot a Sundance Hit on Your iPhone, then you’ll love:
How to Shoot and Sell Six Feature Films in a Year with Joe Swanberg
Joe Swanberg, Hannah Takes The Stairs, Happy Christmas, V/H/S, Digging for Fire, 24 Exposures, All the Light in the Sky, Nights and Weekends, Uncle Kent filmmaking, indie film, indie film hustle

Enjoyed Sean Baker: ‘Tangerine’ How to Shoot a Sundance Hit on Your iPhone? Please share it in your social networks (FacebookTwitter, email etc) by using social media buttons at the side or bottom of the blog. Or post to your blog and anywhere else you feel it would be a good fit. Thanks.

I welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the comments section below…

Get Social with Indie Film Hustle:
Facebook: Indie Film Hustle

Twitter: @indiefilmhustle 
Instagram: @ifilmhustle

YouTube: Indie Film Hustle TV
Podcast: IFH Podcast
Podcast: Film Festival Hacks Podcast
IFH: Filmmaking Hacks

Please note some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase or use a service. Understand that I have experience with all of these services, products, and companies, and I recommend them because they’re extremely helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I earn if you decide to buy something. Thx u! 




Facebook Comments