Steven Soderbergh has followed up his smartphone thriller UNSANE with yet another feature shot on the iPhone. His basketball drama HIGH FLYING BIRD has now been sold to Netlix, and the Sex, Lies and Videotape director explains why he loves shooting on Apple’s premiere smartphone.
Nobody knows if Soderbergh upgraded to the iPhone X with High Flying Bird, but what we do know is that he worked extremely fast in principal photography. Shooting the basketball drama in just two weeks, is a blinding pace for any full length film, but what is more impressive, is that thanks to the iPhone, Soderbergh had an assemble edit completed less than three hours after wrapping the last shot!
According to Unsane co-star, Josh Leonard, Soderbergh loves to work fast and cut the first draft of the film during the cast wrap party. That film went on to make over $14 million at the box office, and considering the low budget nature of the film, you can imagine it was quite profitable. “I look at (Unsane) now and I don’t think it would have been as good if I’d had to shoot it in a conventional way,” Soderbergh said.
It also seems that Soderbergh used his same workflow while shooting High Flying Bird. The film, stars Andre Holland (Moonlight, The Knick), Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2), Melvin Gregg (UnREAL), Sonja Sohn (The Chi), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek: Beyond), Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) and Bill Duke (Predator), and was based on a play by Academy Award winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight).
Soderbergh says that the iPhone gives him the ability to put a lens anywhere he wants in a matter of seconds, and such a small capture device provides a legitimate tool for accomplishing that goal. And if you think about the kinetic nature of basketball, it would make sense that Soderbergh would use the iPhone to shoot with. Soderbergh also says that shooting on the iPhone creates a kind of intimacy for the audience, based on the familiarity of the smartphone image.
Will he “never look back,” like has been reported in the media? Well, maybe. Then again, it wasn’t all that long ago that the Unsane director was talking retirement. So it seems that the iPhone has breathed new life into his creative life. But even he admits that there are such challenges as not having a longer focal length to shoot shots that he needs. Soderbergh says he’s always ready to break out a DSLR with a zoom to capture anything that the iPhone can’t deliver on.
High Flying Bird will premiere on Netflix in early 2019. Meanwhile, check out this interview he did with Hey U Guys on why the iPhone is such a game changer for him and why it’s a must have tool in your cinematic quiver.