Beginner Smartphone Movie Skills

Make Your Own Holiday Cat Movie

This Christmas, unleash your inner meowvie director! Grab your smartphone, your adorable kitty co-star, and get ready to create a holiday masterpiece that will have the internet giggling. Oh, and my buddies at Five Sibes® want to remind you that that these tips work for dog lovers too!)

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Grab your phone, get creative, and let the holiday magic flow as you explore simple tips and ideas to make your own fun movie. I am including a fun short idea movie I shot some time ago but it gives you some ideas! [Revised January 2024]

Fun Smartphone Movie Tips

How you hold your smartphone for filming will depend on what you want to do. Most Christmas cat movies will be family events, but you might also want to help a local rescue. All the tips can help you make a better movie.

  • Sharing a Christmas family movie should be a relaxing project!
  • A blog or rescue holiday promotion might need a little bit of planning and a few props.

There are two ways to hold your smartphone

Where is your movie going to be seen? There’s no point in making the perfect pat movie if the format isn’t the right one. Work it out and choose how you will hold your smartphone. Either Portrait or Landscape.

  1. Landscape – Hold your smartphone on its side. With most phones, this will mean the smartphone button is on the right. Your ‘phone will align with the horizon for a wide video which is often more fun to watch as its larger.
  2. Portrait – When you hold your smartphone to make a call you hold it in portrait mode. It is so comfortable to make calls that we think all video shooting works this way too. Videos viewed this way will look smaller as they are as wide as your phone screen.

Instagram Stories and Reels use portrait (upright) mode, but most movies created for sharing with family and friends are made using landscape (sideways on) so you can show more of what’s happening. Your videos can be shared with family around the world through email, or on Facebook and being short, the file size will not be too big to send.

Smartphone Orientation Tips

Practice Making Videos

This is the most important way to build any skill, even making a fun smartphone movie. Make a couple of very short videos so you know what it feels like to hold the smartphone and shoot a movie.

Your knowledge of your smartphone and its applications is a valuable skill. It gives you a head start on everyone who doesn’t bother to try. Your cute cat video will be uploaded faster, and look better if you do a couple of trial runs.

So, how do you practice?

  1. Learn to operate your device confidently. Be patient with yourself.
  2. Find a video app you like and learn about it. I recommend iMovie, and Adobe Rush iOS & Android but there are dozens so decide on your own favourite. Not sure which to choose? Look for one that gets 4+ stars and give ones you like a trial run. (Most do free or limited trials).
  3. Practice basic editing 1) Trim a clip 2) Add a transition. Boom – Done. That’s all you need to start.
  4. Learn how to upload your movie to FB or add to email. Not ure how? Check YouTube for how-to’s for your specific smartphone.
Perfect Cat Movie Still
Did I hear treats being wrapped?

Keep Your Story Simple

For new movie makers, keep it short and simple. Films have a beginning, a middle and an end. Tell your short story. It may be a kitten playing with a Christmas bauble and falling asleep, or a cat exploring a new scratch post and climbing to the top.

Wobbly Video Alert

When you start filming you might need some physical support to keep your shots steady. You don’t need fancy equipment although a simple tripod can help. Here are some free tips.

  • Brace yourself against a doorway or a window ledge.
  • Prop your elbows on a table for a close shot.
  • Support your smartphone on, or against, a stack of books to keep it upright.
  • If you have access to a GoPro or small video camera, consider a tripod, or monopod.
Perfect Cat Movie showing a cat laid out on the carpet.
Playing with wrapping paper is SO exhausting!

Smartphone Video Sound

Ask any expert and they will confirm that friends and family will put up with a slightly wonky video if they can hear you OK.  Look at this quick checklist to get your own sound right!

  • Make sure your sound is on
  • Avoid windy locations. 
  • Try to keep background chatter to a minimum if you can.
  • Is your audio a disaster? Reduce the sound when you edit. Replace it with music. 
Knobbly legged tripod
Joby20WG coupon code 20% off – valid on Tripods category except New arrivals

Summary for New Movie Makers

These skills will become automatic as you use your smartphone more and more.

You will improve every time you pick up your smartphone, shoot more video clips and improve. After a while you will stop ‘thinking’ smartphone movies and making moviews you really love.

So what are you going to film today?

Have you got any cool ideas? Let me know in the comments!

24 thoughts on “Make Your Own Holiday Cat Movie”

  1. Great tips as always, and can apply to photographing dogs, too! The sound tip is a great one…and most over looked! I remember shooting video at a beach and the wind and whipping sand really messed with my sound! (The sand actually ruined that videocamera! It was shot before smart phones). These will be so helpful, especially to budding photographers and videographers! I use my phone for everything now, hardly use my video function on my 35 mm anymore…and my videocameras are pretty much retired now! Love smart phone tips! Pinning to share with others!

  2. I’ve definitely stepped up my video making skills and am now focusing on growing my YouTube channel – YouTube is really pushing vertical short video these days so I’m doing a lot of that. These are very helpful tips.

  3. These are terrific tips for taking videos of your furry friend! I’ve actually been wondering how to do a better job. I may need to invest in a tripod. I hadn’t thought about how to splice different video together or the story I was trying to tell so much rather than just a cute video. I’m definitely putting these tricks to use on my next video adventure with Henry. Thanks!

  4. I have had sound disasters. Adding some suitable music is a great way to make your video special and keep it fun.

  5. All great tips! I had to laugh when I read where you said to lean on a wall or stack of books, in my career, for both stills and video, I’ve been known to lean of anything available to firm up the hold! The roof of a truck to shoot a bridge at night over a river, on the edge of a “bucket” on top of a fire truck as it lifted me 75′ up in the air to shoot an aerial. On top of a fork lift to shoot a NASCAR! On a mailbox, against a tree, and on a deck rail to shoot the moon…on the floor on top of a stack of pillows to shoot a pet portrait! Ah, such great memories to be made along the way! All that just adds extra fun to shooting, and laughs at the memories for years after. 🙂

  6. I’m terrible at video but these tips are helpful. I want to film myself grooming Plush for a grooming guide post but I can’t figure out how to do it and still have hands to groom. I don’t have a tripod or phone stand. I tried wearing it on a headband but I was afraid it would fall in the bath water.

  7. Thanks for all these suggestions. I definitely have to support my iPhone or the video will be super wobbly. The sound is a big problem, so I love the idea of editing it out and replacing it with music.

  8. Thanks for these tips. I’m still a work in progress but reading your tips definitely makes things easier. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I have done some videos on Instagram and filmed them in landscape – only to realize I should have used portrait. Sigh! Love your tip about propping your elbows on something. I tend to wobble so this is a great tip!

  10. I wish TW had a smart phone. She doesn’t even have a dumb one. When she takes fotos with the camera, she always braces against something. Love the pink hair!

  11. Very helpful tips for super beginners like myself. I have to say I don’t find it comfortable to do too many things on my phone, for taking pics and even learning to take a good video I prefer to use the camera I finally bought myself. I may make an effort to give it a try on my phone though!

  12. These are great tips! Here’s one for Instagram users too: IG Stories are always portrait mode, and the regular posts that show in the IG feed are better shot landscape. So think ahead of time where you are going to use your video.


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