Beginner Smartphone Movie Skills

Make a Movie with Your iPhone or Android Device

I love smartphone filmmaking but know many people start off thinking ‘I can’t do this’. I made it my mission to tell everyone that filmmaking skills are within your reach. If I can make a wobbly start and then make successful movies, you can too. Smartphone filmmaking is for everyone, cat lovers, pet bloggers and rescue volunteers.

If you need a basic moviemaking how-to I have one here but I hope that a showcase of some of the Dash Kitten movies will encourage your own journey of discovery and creativity.

Smartphone Filmmaking Equipment

Dash Kitten blog videos were shot on an iPhone 4S, iPhone6 and an iPhone12. Your phone will shoot video so remember, there is no best phone for filmmaking use the phone you have, including the best Android has to offer.

My BlogPaws® Nose to Nose Finalist movie ‘The Duckling Rescue‘ was shot in an iPhone 4S. If I can get this kind of attention, you can too.

Phoebe the Princess Video

This is my first blog video from 2014 when I was taking beginner steps. Phoebe’s movie uses a series of clips that I added to an iMovie Trailer. The trailers are pre-built modules that you fill with photographs and video, then embellish with text.

As a beginner, I recommend you spend some time experimenting with the display options that iMovie or your computer/smartphone has. This might include themes like summer holidays, adventures and Halloween drama. If you want to entertain friends a theme is a great option.

Advice for Filmmakers – Learning Video as You Go

When you play around with different themes and formats, you can learn a lot about what you want a video to say. You will begin to develop views on the interpretation and message you want to send.

It may be a different video presentation you create for friends, family or your blog readers because what you want to say changes too. Here’s a video of Dusty I shared with family and friends.

Dusty the Rescue’s First Step Outside

You will see that there are new elements in this video. I moved away from the ‘trailer mode’ to try editing on my own. I didn’t completely get rid of my trainer wheels as I used a summer theme with friendly text and cute frames.

There isn’t much professional polish but the video does capture a magical moment when Dusty (senior adoption) took his first steps outside after weeks of hesitation.

Exploring Different Venues with a Smartphone Movie

This next video from 2016 was shot before BlogPaws® 2016. I stayed at a hotel called the Saguaro which was quite spectacular. This is a video that shows a particular place and I tried to give an impression of its colour and vibrancy which was new to me, in the short video.

You will notice that there is low key music playing in the video and it is credited at the end of the movie. There are plenty of free, or cheap music online that will keep you on the legal side of moviemaking.

An important point to remember:

Only use music you have permission to include in your videos.

You don’t need music in your video but I always think that if you are listening on a computer or with headphones wouldn’t you like something to fill the silent void?

Product Videos for Bloggers

This next video is especially for pet bloggers who do sponsored posts.

I created a smartphone product video for my Pioneer Pet Raindrop review and then realised that I could use some of the clips to create a short ‘how-to’ review to focus on removing and replacing the filter unit in the stylish clamshell pump housing.

The company likes to so much they asked if they could display it on their website which was a thrill for the Dash Kitten Crew.

As the video would be shared across a wide range of platforms the visuals are simple and strong. There are no long shots, it is all crisp, dynamic and simple to understand. You, as a blogger, are anticipating the questions a customer might ask.

Cat Fun Video

This is one of Dusty’s most popular video trips, his visit to the seaside at Eastbourne.

Once the family realised that Dusty absolutely adored car rides, we were able to make four special trips to local places that involved a reasonable drive then a short stop before returning home. I was able to create a video for each trip.

When you are confident at basic video making you will be able to create a simple video story like this without needing a theme, or trailer to support you.

The trick is a strong storyline and I was able to record Dusty’s trip with affection and a dash of humour. Keep your story simple. It just needs to guide your intentions as you record not reinvent the movie wheel.

Keep a Clip You Treasure

Even if you are not sure where or when you will use it.

I caught Harvey lapping water from our Raindrop fountain and grabbed by smartphone.

Harvey was irresistible so I saved it and the clip was included in a sponsored video. It really emphasises the product’s cat friendliness.

Working with a Rescue Event or a Sponsor

I was one of the donors who supported Neko Ngeru Cat Adoption Cafe in the New Zealand version of a ‘kickstarter‘ campaign and I was given permission to create a promotional video for the cafe launch. The video is upbeat, dynamic and includes a lot of shorter shots to generate excitement.

The video is a showcase for a specific venue and because of this, the story is more ‘documentary’ than a cute story.

You can create a video of an event like:

  • Cat rescue open day
  • Adoptapalooza
  • Product launch away from home
  • Super Zoo sponsor

The story you tell will be seen by people who may not know any of the event’s background. Your video has to inform. You may need to include details of the venue, dates and times, and what people need to do to find out more.

Don’t Just Shoot in Daylight

Although this video is not cat-related I want to include it so you know that you can ‘think different’ with your own videos. The video of High Light was shot in an iPhone 6.

High Light, an annual light festival that takes place locally in Lower Hutt. The sculptures are 3-D shapes, dimensional projections and holograms as well as artists who work with moving lights.

The key thing to remember is that you need some kind of light to work with. Here it’s sculptures, but you might be shooting shop windows, display cases or in a pet show where the light is a bit low.

Most modern smartphones have a night option and this can make a big difference to how much your camera ‘phone picks up. The best way to check the capabilities of your smartphone is to run a few tests before you film at night.

This last movie was edited in Screenflow, an educational video editor that makes voiceovers and fancy tricks a lot more fun.

Finally, the best way to share your videos and keep them visible is something like a YouTube channel. These are free and are a great place to send people as well as an extra place for your sponsored promotion videos and educational videos to get more attention.

Dash Kitten Launches a YouTube Channel

After spending a lot of time on Vimeo, I decided to launch a channel on YouTube as video making was becoming a big part of the blog and there are no restrictions on the number of videos you can host.

You can do basic editing on You Tube and change titles, add text and make sure your keywords (if you use them) are relevant.

Marjorie Dawson

Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can create impressive cat photographs and fun movies with the camera they carry.

She is a Professional Member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.

15 thoughts on “Make a Movie with Your iPhone or Android Device”

  1. I look forward to your course. I’ve done basic video, but would like to learn and do so much more. I’m proud of the work you’ve accomplished.

  2. I’m blown away that you did many of these on an iPhone 4s and some on an iPhone 6. Until 2 weeks ago, I only had an iPhone 5 and felt very limited by it, mostly for memory, so I’m very impressed. I really need to learn a lot more and look forward to your class. I especially liked when Dusty went to the beach – who would think a cat would like the beach! And the night lights video–so cool. I look forward to seeing and learning more.

  3. I love that high light video! Night time scenes are so wonderful and fun. Love all your videos and I think it is wonderful how you showed your journey and really created a wonderful niche (whether cat or dog or any blogger who would like tips) and have become a very helpful resource! I do tend to keep e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g I shoot, both stills and video, but you are so right that a clip could be used for something else, and you just never know when it will add that extra zing to a post! So now I have even more reasons to keep all my shoots! 😉

  4. Thanks for teaching and am looking forward to learning but can you also mention those that do not have smartphones but use a camera as it would help me the lousy camera woman a little bit.

  5. I love how you chronologically covered your journey to movie making. You covered so many problem areas like lighting, getting started for beginners, etc. Oh and my favorite one is the one with Mr. Dusty. I feel like it’s a sentimental memory as my last cat was named Dusty too. And I remember when I first discovered your blog that was the first video I watched. These are wonderful video clips to help me improve my smartphone skills. I subscribed to your Youtube Channel too!

  6. I love the videos you shared. How awesome that almost everyone now can pull out their smartphone and record a video. It’s great especially for capturing special moments you want to remember forever. I feel like the thing, for me, that really stepped up my videos was learning how to better edit them myself.

  7. As always your posts about film making are super helpful and of course encouraging. I wouldn’t say I’m “afraid” of technology, I would say I don’t like trying new technology things. My husband wants to throw my phone out the window and gave me his new one to use instead…one that actually works well. It’s been several weeks and it’s still sitting here!

    My point is, I feel like I should learn good video skills, but it’s the editing and “tarting it up” that has me avoiding it like the plague. In a week from Monday my husband and I are going to volunteer at a shelter for a week, and I would love to take videos to help promote their work. Not to mention videos I’ve started making that are literally just me talking, and could use some jazzing up.


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