Written by Marjorie Dawson

How To Make the Perfect Cat Movie

How To Make the Perfect Cat Movie

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Are you a cat parent who blogs or loves sharing your cats online? Are you someone who wants to help your local rescue spotlight cats to get them adopted faster? Making the perfect cat movie to impress people or grab a share of media for rescues is something you can do. You do not need to be an expert or experienced movie maker.

Let me get you up and running quickly with simple tips that focus on making a short movie. This will be a movie that you make, using your own smartphone. A movie that can get you plenty of attention, or maybe get that hard to adopt kitty into their forever home. Let’s get started.

So, what do you do? First, you take a breath! I realise it all looks complicated and the tech can seem intimidating, but with a little practice, you can have lots of fun, and do a lot of good!

Smartphone Orientation Tips
How you hold your ‘phone depends on your camera. Check the manual or just PLAY!

Can I Really Make a Cat Movie?

Can you make the ‘perfect cat movie’ for social media? I know, you will need some convincing but I believe, you can make a movie you can be proud of. One that tells a story. That sounds awesome to me.

  • I believe every one of you can make movies you will be proud of.

The most important thing for every new movie maker to remember is this:

You are not making a big-budget Hollywood movie with fancy production values and perfectly framed shots.

Your first step is to get into the movie-making mindset. Be focused and have a plan, or a rough outline to start you off. Start thinking. What is your movie going to be about?

Cat looking at a young lady
Plans give you focus!

The Perfect Cat Movie – Your Equipment

I suggest using a smartphone. Why? A smartphone is the one thing you usually have in your pocket and it does everything you need it to. If you do have a DSLR or even a cool little video camera like a GoPro – learn it, use it and enjoy it. These tips are great for you too.

You don’t need the latest model smartphone like an iPhone 12 or a swish Samsung. The smartphone you have, if it has the capacity to record video, is enough to make simple movies.

  • TIP The best smartphone for filmmakers is the one you have.
Start Today and Learn Movie Making Skills
  • My Blogpaws® Finalist movie was shot on an iPhone 4S.

How Do I Start Shooting Video?

You develop some basic skills so you feel more confident. A bit of preparation can make a big difference to your first cat film. These are skills that will make sure that your video clips will be better and less unsteady from the very start.

Practice These Basic Skills

  • Make sure you can open and start your camera app smoothly. How? Have the app on your home screen where you can easily find it.
  • Hold your smartphone as steady as you can. Viewers don’t expect perfection but they need to see what is happening, so don’t disorientate your viewers with sudden movement.
  • Know how to turn your video camera option (if you have one) on and off reasonably quickly. An iPhone has a camera app and there are options for photo and video formats within that.
  • Practice shooting lots of short video clips. Look at these later and see how you might do something better next time.

These are all you need to make a basic movie, but the more you use your camera, the more confident you will become and the better your results will be.

Movie Making Apps

I use an iPhone, but whichever device you have, your video clips will be shot using the camera app built into the ‘phone. The Apple App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android) have software options to help you edit and create movies with the video clips you shoot and with new and improved apps are coming on to the market all the time I recommend looking for a ‘top 10 movie apps’ search. These will give a fair assessment of the software you should consider.

Smartphone movies cat

What kind of cat movie do you want to make?

Know the story you want to tell. Here’s some ideas to help you focus your storytelling:

  • Informal family video with cat toys, pet treats galore, opening a pet gift.
  • A specific theme. Cats around the Crib: my cat’s Easter gifts: a cat out and about.
  • A rescue promotion to help a cat in need?
  • A movie expressing how much you love your cat.
  • Cats going crazy with snowflakes, Kong toys, in the water.
  • Family disasters with my cat(s).

TIP Keep it simple and use good light. You are celebrating your love for your cat not aiming to win an Oscar® for best movie.

Setting the cat movie scene

Once you have worked on your basic camera skills you will be keen to get busy planning your first movie.

Nothing high stress, with to-do lists and must-have’s but you will need a focus, an idea to kickstart the story you want to tell. This basic plan means you will be ready to start filming as soon as you need to.

With your own idea in mind:

  • Tell your story in broad strokes. Keep it simple. Have a plan, or a story in mind this ensures you take the right kind of video clips.
  • Don’t want to talk on video? Easy. Use text. Keep it short and informative. Add basic online and ‘phone contact details for a rescue.
  • Find a suitable location. This might be your living room, kitchen, garden or rescue. Adventure cats might go further afield.
  • Collect any props, coloured paper or fabric for your background.
  • If you have a patient cat and have plans for presenting them in an outfit, be ready with the outfit but don’t force your cat into something that worries them. Feline distress comes over in a movie – loud and clear.
  • ADOPTIONS: Take close-ups and full-body video to show the cat’s physique. Add cute chin scritches or something that shows your candidates personality.
  • Tell the story of your candidate either with speech, or text on the screen. Any special points you need to point out? Tell the audience what they are. FIV+, Senior, Cerebellar Hypoplasia kitty who is feisty and keeps it real. People need to be interested enough to meet your candidate for real.

If you think telling the full story about a cat might put people off you are wrong. It will deter those who want a hassle free, agile and (relatively) care free cat, BUT you will also reach the cat lover who wants a senior, who has experience with Diabetes, who is prepared to take on a disabled cat with a happy heart.

Cat image for smartphone movie
A compromise costume can work too.

Know how to turn on your camera quickly.

As you are dealing with cats you might find your model doing what you want to sooner than you expected. You need to be ready to shoot fast.

A good way to do this is to make sure your camera app on your home screen. You will know exactly where it is and can tap it quickly to open it.

Study Your Move Making Apps. It helps.

Smartphone Movie Software Tips

You will find plenty of short filmmaking apps to download to make your first movie. Some are free, but the apps with better features are usually ones you invest a small amount of money in. Here are some of the apps we have on our iPhone:

  • iMovie – Standard with all recent iPhones (so it may be already on your ‘phone)
  • Musemage – Has the option to incorporate a blue screen! Filters. Image stabilisation. Plenty of great features. Currently, free but has a steep learning curve.
  • Videoshop – (Google Play) Has a wide range of features to keep a newbie happy buy is becoming a bit ad heavy.

I am not an Android expert but I advise that you look for apps with 5-star reviews. Google Play will help you narrow down your choice of filmmaking apps. You can also ask movie-making friends for recommendations.

One of the most informative exercises to try as you look for an app is to look at the low score reviews. There is a reason for this. People usually have one issue that really bugs them about an app, and they will have complaining about this one issue down to a fine art. If this is the only thing that bugs them and its not a big thing for you, try the app.

On the ‘up’ side for iPhone movie makers, Apple has begun to allow developers to respond to queries and criticisms. This means buyers can often get helpful answers to frustrated feedback so you can see that issues are being noted and acted on.

  • TOP TIP This may be the most important piece of advice we give in this post.
Smartphone Movie Camera

Know How Your Smartphone Movie App Works

Movie making on smartphone device has undergone huge development in recent months. Mobile software now does so much more than it did even one year ago. The sophistication of your device and its apps is keeping pace with smartphones themselves and the range of options in every movie app means you can’t just pick one up and use it – you need to practice!

Developers know that not everyone is a tech wizard so they prepare how-to’s on YouTube like the one below for MuseMage. Sites will often have operating tips and videos online. Use these to learn the basics.

Key Skills for Your Cat Movie

  • Load video clips into your app
  • Edit/Trim your video
  • Adjust your volume (remember that noisy TV in the background last year?)
  • Add a little text (optional)
  • Add music (optional) and remember © Copyright. Apps may include royalty free or copyright free tunes for you.

A reminder. If you have people who are not big on social media make sure you share a link via email. Or when you visit family who are not online, remember to sit down and show them with their own personal movie premiere! This kind of share might bring a real touch of magic to someone’s day.

Social Media Sharing Tips

If you are a big Facebook fan, remember you can upload your movie direct to FB. Your video will be shorter than the time recommended in our quote but, the larger the file size the longer it will take to upload. The quality might also be affected.

Keep in mind that videos must be less than 45 minutes long and smaller than 1.75 GB. The longer your video is, the larger its file size will be. This may affect the quality of the video – Quora

Sharing and watching videos on Twitter is not done on such a generous scale, but might be a good fit for your movie. Twitter welcomes videos that are a couple of minutes in length and this might increase soon to match their increased 280 character tweet limit. Uploading a video is done via the Twitter app.

If you are a big Instagram fan you are challenged to tell your story in under a minute. This might be perfect for a one-off quickie event, a cute kitten story or sharing a positive rescue or feral report.

Increasing video length to a minute took quite a bit of effort. ……. Instagram surprised its users by increasing the 15-second limit of its videos to… 60 seconds, a full four times longer than before – engadget.com

After You Have Shot Your Video

What the heck do you do? Now you refine your story by editing.

  • This post has lots of editing tips.

You know what kind of movie you decided to make. Now you keep your focus. Your movie an aims are simple. Stay on course and tell your story.

Review the video you have saved. There will be good stuff and bad stuff. Don’t cringe at a wobbly shot, or groan that something ‘didn’t work’. Your story can be captured with a squeak and people will laugh with you, not at you. People still smile at the videos I created of Dusty’s travels. They are special memories, and you can make your own.

The K.I.S.S. acronym is the only one you need to remember. Keep It Simple Silly.

Bloggers Sponsored Video Tips

For blogging movie makers, a couple of extra tips to make your movie-making life easier.

If you have a sponsored post post is wherever your social media following is strongest, for maximum impact.

On Instagram this might be hashtags, on Facebook or Twitter the words #Ad or #sponsored are clear indicators. Whatever it is, it must be clear and unequivocal.

The caution about FTC applies to all of your social media outlets. Leaving off a formal disclosure when you receive recompense for an item shows a lack of respect to your fellow movie makers and anyone who makes a living in social media.

Things to Remember

  • Be honest – recognise that your time might be limited.
  • Learn to operate your movie app. Confidence = success.
  • Keep it short and simple.
  • Keep calm and don’t stress.
  • Realise your movie may be less than perfect
  • Remember this doesn’t matter.
  • People will love seeing your movies.

What starring roles will your cats take in your movies?

Other videos You Might Like:

Marjorie Dawson

Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.

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

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44 thoughts on “How To Make the Perfect Cat Movie”

  1. Great tips on how to make a movie on your smartphone. I’m wondering if you could do the exact same thing with an iPad? Sometimes my iPad is a bit easier to see and use. You certainly do give me the inspiration to try some of your great tips for myself.

    Reply
  2. I really must try this! My cat does such funny things and is always getting himself into mischief. A few keepsake videos would be so great to have.

    Reply
  3. Great tips! I use my Android smartphone and edit all my videos on my computer. The tip I feel the most is the one about making sure you have quick access to your phone camera app! I can’t tell you how many times I missed an adorable moment because I had to take time to get to the camera on my phone. I totally added my camera app to the home screen on my phone so I can get to it quicker.

    Reply
  4. no joke; I don’t think I have IMovie on the phone; then again I’m not going to state how long it took me to figure out why I never could hear
    incoming calls ~~~~~~~ duh !!! 🙂 ♥♥

    Reply
  5. Movies are always the highlight of our night. We love to snuggle with the kids and pop some popcorn, then we put on a movie, it always has to be one with animals. It was interesting that you said that I could make an animal movie myself without much help. This would be such a fun activity to with with my kids!

    Reply
  6. What GREAT advice for movie makin’! Of course, I, Seville the Cat, do not even allow for the peep to take my picture these days, let alone make a movie of me, but you know… I might just use some of your tips to make a movie of the peeps! A kitty like me can never have too much blackmail materi… I MEAN, Uh… Aw mouses, what the heck. A kitty like me can always benefit from… Uh… I need nip, okay? I need the nip. And if I can get a few extra dollars from a video catchin’ the peep doin’ somethin’ embarrassing, it’s all the better for me. MOUSES!

    Reply
  7. You always have great video tips! I agree that filming with a smartphone Horizontally is so much better, I was never happy when I did videos on vertically it just doesn’t look right. I’m going horizontal from now on!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
  8. I absolutely love this! I had no idea these apps existed for making movies with my phone. The videos I’ve done with my phone, I have edited on my computer and they are truly terrible compared the video tutorial here. I can’t wait to check them out and practice making movies with my big dogs. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  9. Thanks for this very helpful post for us newbies to video. I kinda jumped right in and am learning as I go. Thanks for sharing this advice. It really helps. I’m pinning as well!

    Reply
  10. With cat videos consistently being the most watched videos on YouTube and with video driving so many impressions on social media (and getting so much engagement to boot!), these tips will help every cat pet parent social media influencer immensely. THANK YOU for these!

    Reply
  11. I need to try videos, but I have a million excuses why I don’t. Hopefully, 2018 will be the year I give it a try. If I get there, it will be because of you! Thanks for sharing not only the reasons to use video and the tools to make it work.

    Reply
  12. I really need to make short movies of some of the training exercises that I do with Bernie and Lizzie. Even if I don’t publically publish these movies, it would be fun to have them for us and for family members to watch. Pictures are always appreciated by long-distance parents (proud grandpup parents), but movie footage is always a huge hit!

    Reply
  13. For movies, as well as photos, we found you get wonderful results getting as close to the ground as possible. I accidentally learned when I was laying around in the grass with convalescing Jasmine.

    Reply
  14. Wonderful article and we’ve been begging the female human to up her video game! Her lame excuse about not knowing what software to use has now been exploded and we had her download some of your app recommendations posthaste. I’m sure we could go a purrrrfect job of making movies but that little issue of lack of opposable thumbs is the pesky obstacle we must deal with.
    Purrs & Head Bonks,
    Tuker, Alpha of The Tribe of Five

    Reply
  15. I am not even sure I have ever done a movie! 🙂 This is an avenue I definitely want to go down when I have more time – so thank you for giving me some great tips to get started! Great details!

    Reply
  16. This is a great post and so informative! I do movies and learned a few things in this post. Your pictures are just adorable! Thanks for the post

    Reply
  17. I need to check out these apps you’re suggesting! I’m going to try to do a video soon! Off to pin so I can keep coming back for more tips to remember to incorporate into my video!

    Reply
  18. Such wonderful tips, you guys! We bet this will help lots of bloggers to give making a pet movie a try!

    Reply
  19. Thanks for these tips, I need to start trying my hand at movies. I will have to get one of those apps and give it a try.

    Reply
  20. Such a great post. We love making videos. We make some portrait for social media and some landscape or horizontal for YouTube. I just ordered a new iPhone 8+ so very excited. Will have to check those apps.

    Reply
  21. What a well written post Kiwi! I have a suggestion that some folks may not have a use for, but here goes. I shake, bad, always have, so I i always have to find ways to stabilize my elbow to get a usable video.

    Then I read about gimballs, do you know about these?

    They make them for smartphones, but they stabilize it so there is no wiggle at all, one of those is a great addition for someone like me who has a problem with shaky hands, I thought they might make a good addition to your how-to!

    Reply
  22. Maybe we can figure out a movie that takes place outdoors. Our place is a mess with renovations!

    Reply
  23. Yeah, hold your phone horizontally … you wouldn’t believe how many times I forget about that when taking a video of Cookie LOL

    Reply
  24. Great tips here! We have been enjoying making movies and plan to put together a Christmas one for our blog. Like you, we have an iPhone that we use and find iMovie to be helpful. We also have a GoPro and use iMovie on our computer – so easy and fun to use!

    Reply
  25. Great tips especially as I have the new camera now and trying to figure it out, although Madam when she sees me trying to film LOL she just sits and looks at me as if I am mad

    Reply
  26. I haven’t made a movie using an app on my phone yet, but will definitely try it out. Thank you for your tips. I just need to clean up the house so I can have a good place to record a video.

    Reply
  27. What a great tutorial! I keep meaning to do more video on my blog and this motivated me to brainstorm some ideas!

    Reply
  28. Your instructions are clear and easy to understand. I’m hoping this means even someone like ME can make a movie. I admit to having tried once and given up in frustration, but I think I’m ready to try again. It seemed so much more complicated when I was trying in the past. I think it was the unnecessarily complicated instructions I was trying to use!

    Reply
    • Lori, if you ever need a hand (or a paw) just get in touch via social media. We are happy to help if we can. Just keep it simple!

      Reply
  29. What an excellent post filled with great tips! I love that you addressed the legalities of using certain songs as well as making sure you disclose any sponsorship — things people often forget. Love how thorough this post is!

    Reply
  30. Sounds way too complicated for me. In theory I’d like to be able to make a fun movie to jazz up a post or two but you lost me at “smartphone.” I think I’ll stick to enjoying yours!!

    Reply
  31. I always enjoy your video tips and have learned quite a bit. I’m all about low stress – so thanks for that reminder! Also, really appreciate the app suggestions. We have I Movie, but also good to learn about other options (especially musmage with the blue screen). I’m going to pin, too!

    Reply
  32. This is such helpful information! I will make sure that my 13 year old gets right on it!! haha

    Reply
  33. This is useful and thorough advice. I really need to learn how to do more video – and not shaky video. (Somehow I appear to fall down at the end). My phone doesn’t have a lot of space for too many aps so I’ve been trying with my camera. Also, I don’t know how people edit those tiny screens … I’m still a desktop person.

    Reply
  34. My challenge?! Making even ONE movie! I know I need to! I’m just overwhelmed with the task!

    Reply
  35. Great tips and sounds like a really fun thing to do this Christmas, and sure beats chasing them sprouts around MOL
    Toodle pip and purrs
    ERin

    Reply

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