Kitty Condo: A Homemade Movie

Get behind-the-scenes insight on our movie, shot and edited entirely on a smartphone!  

Do you remember this blog we posted, about filmmakers using smartphones to shoot feature length films? We were so inspired by the idea that we decided to … wait for it … make our own short, dramatic film.

We have a world-class production studio, matched by our talented (if we do say so ourselves) production crew and tons of experience making high-quality media for training, marketing and just plain fun purposes.

But, inspired by the indie filmmakers who made “Tangerine” and “Uneasy Lies the Mind,” we decided to stretch our creative limits and leave all our fancy gear in the studio. We wrote, acted and directed in a cinematic triumph titled “Kitty Condo!”

Mike Wiseman, our filmmaker, not only filmed our short movie on a smartphone—his own Samsung Galaxy Note 8—he used Adobe Clip to edit the film on the same smartphone.

We wanted to create as much of this movie as we possibly could using only a smartphone for both filming and editing. Our project met a few roadblocks (as most creative projects do.)

Director Chris Dotson pointed out that getting decent sound out of a group of people using only the built-in smartphone mic was pretty impossible. All the dialogue would sound like “walla.” (That’s an industry term for general, undifferentiated chatter.) We made a concession for this fact, and used a professional microphone that jacked right into Mike’s Galaxy Note 8.

We also found that editing the video was not without its challenges—Mike’s Adobe Clip app tended to crash—but he persevered (and sweet-talked the app) and eventually produced our …um …excellent film!

To add our credits and title, Mike put our smartphone film into Adobe on his computer. While we had a lot of fun with this admittedly silly project, we also applied a few basics about filmmaking that we thought we’d pass on to you.

We pumped Mike for a few professional tips, and he provided these golden nuggets of filmmaking advice:

Framing Tricks

Rule of Thirds:
  • You always want your shot to look natural, but there still is a little science in what you see. If you want to create a shot where your subject is not centered in the frame, there is a handy little concept called Rule of Thirds. You basically divide the screen into three equal segments and place the subject in either the first or third part of the frame. When you shoot a close up of someone, always try to make sure the eyes of your subject go about a third of the way down on the screen. Shooting your subject where the eyes are too close to the top or the bottom of the screen will make your shot look weird.
  • There’s also a concept called leading where you leave an empty amount of space in the direction the subject is looking.
Dutch Angle:
  • Another fun angle to try is the Dutch Angle. If you’ve ever watched an old episode of the Batman television series, you’ve seen a Dutch Angle. All you are doing is putting your camera on a slant. It creates opportunities for some really interesting shots.


Filming Faces
  • When trying to decide how far you want the camera away from your subject, think about everything that is filling your shot. What do you want to be the main center of attention in the shot? If you are filming faces or anything of importance, you will want to get the camera as close to the subject as you can while keeping your subject properly framed. You will always want to use the framing guidelines when making this decision.
Avoid the Zoom Feature
  • Your smartphone’s camera lens is most likely a really nice one. When you zoom in, your camera is artificially creating a zoom by digitally ‘moving in closer’ to your subject. It will look less sharp and more artificial.

Shooting Sequence

  • To make your production as simple as possible, you will want to try and film your shots out of sequence. You want to try and get all of the shots for a specific location before you move your camera to the next one. If you try to shoot your masterpiece in order, you’re making more work for yourself in the editing phase of your production. Trying to match previous shots once you move your camera is maddening and frustrating. The easier you make the editing process, the better.

Thanks for those great tips, Mike!

We hope you enjoy our movie! More importantly, we hope we’ve inspired you to grab your own smartphone and film a masterpiece!