Watch: Damien Chazelle Shot This Vertical Short Film on an iPhone 11

Damien Chazelle wants you to think vertically...

The new iPhones have one of the most powerful cameras in them. To showcase the new specs, Apple and Damien Chazelle teamed up to shoot some of cinema history vertically. In a short called The Stunt Double, we open on a modern movie scene where our hero escapes bad guys and jumps off the top of the building. 

It's then that we realize he's actually a stuntman in an action movie, but the rig to save his life is broken...so as he plummets to his doom, he imagines himself throughout Hollywood history. 

Check it out below. 

This journey through cinema history is reimagined for the vertical screen by Damien Chazelle and shot on iPhone 11 Pro. I loved watching as classic genres were flipped on their sides, from action movies to silent films, spy flicks to westerns.

It's crazy to think how many genres and styles we've seen come and go and to see how this director reframes and modernizes the movie magic we know and love.

One of the things tying it all together was the original score by Grammy Award winner Lorne Balfe and the cinematography was done by Linus Sandgren. 

Still, with all that power in the iPhone, I would have loved to see someone turn that camera to wide and shoot it in a more cinematic style. Vertical video is a fun gimmick but that sliver of the story keeps things feeling small and never quite "whole" to me. 

Though, I did love the sequence of 80s films where we got an insert that looked very Commando to me. 

Lucky for us, the stuntman is saved and lands at the end, having completed our journey through it all. He ends with a kiss and we end with a feeling that the iPhone can really do a lot of amazing things, but I'd rather see them done wide.      

Your Comment

23 Comments

Articles like this one, as well as Homecoming with its 4:5 aspect ratio, and The Lighthouse with a crazy-cool 1.19:1, have convinced me to start experimenting with this. Rather than being a fad tied to social media platforms and cell-phone screens, aspect ratios are looking like a legitimate creative choice, the same as choice of lenses or color palettes. Thank you for the great article!

August 6, 2020 at 5:47PM

8
Reply
avatar
Cedrick May
Writer/Director
95

Awesome, now I definitely don't need to get the new Canon haha. Great concept. It was fun trying to spot all the homages but I don't think I even got half. The Matrix, There Will Be Blood (opening scene maybe?) Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Searchers, Man with No Name Trilogy, North by Northwest, Predator, and maybe La La Land in a shout out to himself?

They have a making of video too, gotta watch that next.

August 6, 2020 at 8:19PM, Edited August 6, 8:28PM

0
Reply

I went into this wanting to hate it, but its actually fantastic.

August 6, 2020 at 8:54PM

0
Reply
avatar
devtank
photographer
244

Vertical framing is a great experiment. i personally think that through vertical framing we can engage and and enhance the attention span of the viewers especially cell phone users. I am doing a research on how to increase the engagement level of cell phone users. I hope this work will help me.

August 7, 2020 at 2:45AM

0
Reply
avatar
afzaal yousaf baig
Lecture, Director of Photography
81

This is definitely a nice short.
However, with that budget I would definitely not shoot on an iPhone.

August 7, 2020 at 5:56AM, Edited August 7, 5:56AM

0
Reply
avatar
Paolo Mugnaini
Director/DP/Editor
267

It’s paid for by Apple - you wouldn’t have a choice!

August 7, 2020 at 6:17AM

0
Reply

That is about the fact that the reason it looks like that it is due to its budget not to the phone.

August 8, 2020 at 7:55AM

0
Reply
avatar
Paolo Mugnaini
Director/DP/Editor
267

I’m very much in favor of experimenting with aspect ratios, and Damien Chazelle is a great writer and director. This short, however... not good.

August 7, 2020 at 8:38PM

0
Reply

The height of creativity.

August 9, 2020 at 12:21AM

1
Reply
avatar
Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
1551

That was brutal

August 9, 2020 at 1:06PM

0
Reply
avatar
geoff webb
Director, Producer, DOP, Editor
528

I did it way before it was cool, my work was even presented at a big museum in the states :)

August 9, 2020 at 6:04PM

0
Reply
avatar
Ben
Filmmaker
93

The simple problem with vertical is that human visual field is not vertical so there is no possible way to shut out seeing outside of it. I guarantee this exact short shot anamorphic would be more immersive.

Look at your world right now. Look at your face and your eyes, they live in a wide FOV. Anamorphic is the most natural view of what we see.

August 10, 2020 at 12:55PM

1
Reply
avatar
Stephen A van Vuuren
Filmmaker
514

Stephen you are correct .......but you have completely missed the point of the exercise.

August 11, 2020 at 9:55PM

0
Reply

I did not miss the point, the point failed completely on me. It's simple advertising to sell phones and romanticize the horror that is vertical video.

August 12, 2020 at 11:24AM

0
Reply
avatar
Stephen A van Vuuren
Filmmaker
514

It could be good content but I can't handle vertical video

August 12, 2020 at 7:13AM

3
Reply

Damien Chazelle Shot This Vertical Short Film on an iPhone 11

August 14, 2020 at 12:46AM

0
Reply
avatar
Xây Dựng Honghala
Honghala | Công ty xây dựng nhà ở uy tín số 1 tại Hà Nội
161

Damien Chazelle Shot This Vertical Short Film on an iPhone 11.

August 14, 2020 at 5:16PM

5
Reply
sorin gociu
Director of Photography
81

It doesn't matter how slick the production budget is, vertical aspects will always be a lazy gimmick derived from the bad design choices of phone engineers creating phones that didn't force people to turn their phone sideways. This short shot horizontally would be a 1000x better.

August 14, 2020 at 3:42AM

3
Reply
avatar
MICHAEL TUTHILL
Director / Editor
102

Damien Chazelle Shot This Vertical Short Film on an iPhone 11

August 14, 2020 at 3:47AM

0
Reply
avatar
Xây Dựng Honghala
Honghala | Công ty xây dựng nhà ở uy tín số 1 tại Hà Nội
161

Damien Chazelle Shot This Vertical Short Film on an iPhone 11

August 14, 2020 at 5:16PM

0
Reply
sorin gociu
Director of Photography
81

the point is: there is a lot of stupid lazy people with money that can buy stuff that has to be advertised...

August 14, 2020 at 5:19PM

0
Reply
sorin gociu
Director of Photography
81

i know: Damien Chazelle Shot This Vertical Short Film on an iPhone 11

August 14, 2020 at 5:20PM

0
Reply
sorin gociu
Director of Photography
81

Yep.
Great example why vertical is shit.
Even with its obviously massive budget. I couldn't stand watching the whole film.
It's simply a selection of scenes, picked to pretend vertical is a valid option.

Yeah if you're doing a 39 second scene or promo.

August 18, 2020 at 7:51AM

0
Reply