Netflix’s “High Flying Bird” Was Shot Entirely on an iPhone

High Flying Bird
Image Credit: Netflix

Netflix’s new movie “High Flying Bird” was shot entirely on an iPhone.

Filmmaking is changing. Many productions may brag about their $20,000 filmmaking equipment but, more aspiring and working directors are choosing to use their iPhones to make cinematic magic. Case in point, Netflix’s new movie “High Flying Bird.”

In 2009, Columbia Pictures fired Steven Soderbergh from the movie “Moneyball” over changes Soderbergh wanted to make to the script. He later considered giving up the movie-making business altogether.

His latest film “High Flying Bird” is a sports drama written by Tarell Alvin McCraney known for his work on “Moonlight.” The new movie is streaming now on Netflix and centers around an NBA lockout. The movie’s premise centers around agent Ray Burke (André Holland) has just signed the year’s No. 1 draft pick, Erick Scott played by Instagram star Melvin Gregg, but it’s a pointless victory as Erick is not playing and is not getting paid. Moreover, the team owners know that athletes rely on that income and are willing to hold out.

Steven Soderbergh
VENICE – SEPTEMBER 3: Actor Steven Soderbergh poses at photocall during the 68th Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Cinema in Venice, September 3, 2011 in Venice, Italy. (Massimiliano Marino / Shutterstock.com)

Outside of the movie’s plot, this entire movie was shot on an iPhone. Soderbergh’s ability to use a device that millions of people in the world carry illustrate not only the director’s talent but the barrier to success is that much shorter for aspiring filmmakers.

The iPhone, which is traditionally used for family portraits, selfies, and personal videos, makes the scenes on “High Flying Bird” that more intimate. The movie illustrates the racial politics of sports depicting how athletes are expendable.

As Polygon describes the use of an iPhone in the movie, “there’s a sterility to the images that, in combination with Soderbergh’s aptitude for staging scenes and creating a sense of intimacy with his cast by literally positioning the camera close to them, visually telegraphs the split between the love of the game and the game itself.”

“High Flying Bird” is is not Soderbergh’s first time making a movie with only an iPhone. He previously shot Unsane, a psychodramatic horror film.

Netflix’s decision to distribute this production on its platform demonstrates a significant shift in Hollywood with filmmakers using comparatively inexpensive filmmaking equipment to showcase their vision. As Netflix is creating a paradigm shift in Hollywood, so is the iPhone.

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