5 Tips for Shooting Videos on Cellphones

by | Oct 25, 2021 | Filmmaking

These days, you really can produce high-quality videos and social media content with your cell phone, that can quickly lead to either profit or opportunities. These 5 tips for shooting videos on cellphones will help if you:

  • Want to start your own YouTube channel
  • Have your own small business and want to make content, or
  • Are a filmmaker who doesn’t want to always carry around excess gear when you film projects for clients with smaller budgets…

…and simply need to make a lot of quick content that can turn into profits or opportunities, then have I got the cheat codes for you. Read on.


Let’s watch an example of shooting a video on a cellphone


The idea that you can shoot videos with your cell phone gets talked about all the time. But when was the last time you actually saw something that was filmed on one? Well, I have been helping out a friend of mine who runs an 80’s toy shop for a few months by creating videos for the Instagram page for his store, Outatime in Upland, CA.

As a bit of an exercise to explore just what a modern cell phone can accomplish, I decided to just film all of the videos with my iPhone SE 2020 (basically an iPhone 8).

The goal: to increase foot traffic to the shop while keeping things super simple.

Check out the video, in its full shimmering throwback glory, right here.

Tip #1: If You’re Selling A Product Or Service, Be Sure To Include A Pitch


I’m putting this one first, because this tip is very important: Don’t be afraid to include a fairly straightforward pitch explaining in no uncertain terms what your video is ultimately about.

Assuming that you’re using this phone-made video to offer your product or service to a new audience, you need to make sure they’re aware of how they can purchase your item or receive your services. 

Many people are afraid to really put themselves out there and sell themselves, but you’re doing a disservice to your customers and yourself if you try to skirt around this.

Don’t shy away from pitching what you have to sell

Tip #2: Move Your Body, Move The Camera


If you watch the sample “Zelda Candy” promo video for Outatime, you can see I’m moving the phone-as-camera a ton. I vacillate freely between close shots and a master wide shot. I’m rotating the phone, I’m placing it at low angles, I’m panning it from right to left and vice versa. I do all this to keep things interesting, and keep viewers engaged. Luckily for you, moving a cell phone around is very, very easy to do.

Always remember: motion within a scene frame holds your audience’s attention!

Tip #3: Get Plenty of B-Roll

Use your phone to capture a bunch of insert shots covering whatever it is you are talking about, employing a wide variety of angles. 
A quick terminology refresher: “B-Roll” shots comprise the shots you cut away to when someone is talking to spice up the action. This comes in handy in post production (more on this in a bit).

B-roll of the candy swords

Tip #4: Put Something Funny In It


Thanks to its compactness, you can place your phone in all sorts of spots that might produce strange angles you wouldn’t be able to achieve with a bulky prosumer-type camera. Use this to your advantage and get creative with it! This in turn can produce some fresh, comedic moments. 
Or, also, you can just make sure the action is super funny, and shoot it from a nice wide angle, like so:

Tip #5: You Make Or Break The Film In The Edit

So the edit is where you can really shine. You can choose cool fonts to add fun titles to the proceedings, you can source engaging music that ties into the theme of the video, and you can edit everything together to move at a quick pace and keep the viewers’ attention.

Experiment with things! Mess with speed-ramping within a shot (where you slow down and then speed up an action), futz with color grades. Get creative to ensure that you truly stand out from the pack.

You can purchase high-level software that the professionals use for fairly cheap these days, from Adobe Premiere Pro to Avid.

In Conclusion


And there you have it. Five things to keep in mind while shooting videos on cell phones, anytime and anywhere. If you have any questions or if you’d like to book a one-on-one consultation with me on how to become a better shooter or editor, drop me a line.