December 3, 2019

'John Wick' Director Shoots Epic Snowball Fight On an iPhone

David Leitch, director of John Wick, shot this Verizon commercial featuring an epic snowball fight completely on the iPhone 11. Check it out. 

This holiday season, strap in because things are about to get pretty nuts. Especially if you have an iPhone 11. 

Verizon and Apple are pushing a deal for the holidays. No one cares about that. What we really care about is that David Leitch was consulted and hired. His task? Make an epic snowball fight in the style of John Wick

Get ready for your eyeballs to pop out of your head. 

The 90-second ad, Snowbrawl, follows a young girl who teams up with her friends in a snowball fight against her older brother and his buddies. 

Check out this cinematic snowball fight Shot on iPhone 11 Pro by director David Leitch.

Yeah, that was made to simultaneously want to be 11 and to have an iPhone 11. So mission accomplished. 

There's a distinct look and feel here. The light bounces off the snow and even in these settings, it all has a warm hue. You can see the snow glisten and the glorious 4K of the iPhone is on display. 

Another impressive thing is the iPhone's slow motion shot in 4K at 60fps.

But if you had deeper questions about how they made the commercial...check this out. 

There's obviously some serious production equipment being used her for sound and lights as well as stunts, but the fact remains that these guys are all running around with iPhone 11s. 

Seeing them strap the phone to the sleds and shields was genius. 

The main lesson here is to embrace the camera you have. They made shot lists and story choices based completely on what they knew they could do, with a lot of creative choices as well. 

Second, to that, have some fucking fun. 

This shoot looked like a blast. Sure, it's a snowball fight, but the overall idea made you see the crew and kids interacting, learning stunts, and really coming alive. 

What are some cool things you've shot on your iPhones? 

Let us know in the comments!      

Your Comment

20 Comments

Pretty fun stuff. Then the emotion wares a bit and you remember that a new iPhone 11Pro costs the same as the BM Pocket 4k ... but then you remember your current iPhone is 2 years old and it time to upgrade!! ... so BAM ... let's get a new phone!!

December 3, 2019 at 12:44PM

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Lots of weird shots and edits. Good to know even the top level pros can’t make it work when they don’t have all their toys.

December 3, 2019 at 5:06PM, Edited December 3, 5:06PM

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Whatever frame rate this was shot at looks terrible. Exposure looks good, but I find the kinetic motion unwatchable.

December 3, 2019 at 5:19PM

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It looks like it was shot at a faster shutter due to a lot more action in the short.

December 3, 2019 at 6:28PM

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seriously? .... i guess action / adventure isn't your genre ... a Bourne movie would stroke you out....

December 3, 2019 at 7:18PM

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Stay away from "Saving Private Ryan"!

December 4, 2019 at 12:08AM

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Hampus Ingerson
Factotum
70

Stay away from “Gladiator” and “28 Days Later,” too.

December 4, 2019 at 2:00AM

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Firm believer in the fact that it's all about the story so it's always great to see new technology availing itself to more and more potential future genius storytellers. That said, it would be nice to see 11 Pro footage in 4K on a theatrical screen before getting too excited. As much as I like Soderbergh, I can't say I wasn't distracted by the imagery in "Unsane". Perhaps the 11 Pro wouldn't give that impression on the big screen?

December 3, 2019 at 7:14PM

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Maybe you could help me?

How do you get depth of field on small/phone cameras?
The whole piece (I liked it) had DOF and subdued backgrounds. Was this done in post, do phone cameras allow focus and aperture? How do you do that?

Apologies for such a simple question, but I don't have an iPhone 11, and I just can't see how a phone camera could pull off those shots without having a lot of masking and manipulation in post.

OK, please tell me how I could get those sorts of shots with a phone camera, rather than just telling me I need to buy an iPhone 11. ;) Thank you.
(I'm here as an amateur, not a professional, just intrigued.)

December 3, 2019 at 8:52PM, Edited December 3, 8:56PM

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There isn't any shallow DOF coming through in the video via lensing or post production as far as I can tell. Most of the separation you are feeling (i.e. subdued backgrounds) was largely done on set. Smoke / hazers with strong backlight, etc. Lighting, cinematography, and set design is really what is giving you at cinematic look here, not the gear. We could go out and try to shoot that with all of our friends and no production crew / gear, and it would look like you would expect. Apple tries to mask this under the guise of, there was little to no crew or gear, but in reality, there is a lot going on with this set and it takes a lot of resources to make it happen; but that doesn't sell phones.

December 5, 2019 at 1:23AM

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Anthony Chen
Cameraman
160

The fake snowfall really distracted me. (I assume that was fake snowfall). And the fast shutter speed made the action look unreal, although I know that might be an aesthetic choice. Other than that, it was pretty enjoyable. Video is all about the subject and the sound. Video quality is usually not that important. I often shoot music videos with live footage on badly lit stages in small clubs. The quality usually sucks, but no one cares.

December 3, 2019 at 10:56PM

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I think it feels like the Guitar reviews where a great guitar player has a cheap guitar. And since the guitar player plays so awesome that you get lost in the solos you think the guitar is great. And then you have it in your hands and you see that the guitar sounds actually really bad.

Don't get me wrong, I believe the iPhone is pretty good. And many people will make great home videos with their friends and family. But don't sell it as a Pro device just to push the price. Other Phones are just as good as the iPhone Pro. But you still can't change batteries, lenses, memory cards or have sencond monitor and external microphone input. There are cheaper DSLR bodys that will work better then any phone.

December 4, 2019 at 2:58AM

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I don't think Apple is necessary. Apple is using as a marketing thing. It is Apple saying look what a "pro" did. So to the casual audience, they think hey I can get images like that if I just have an iPhone.

I could be wrong but I would think the reason many products put "pro" in the name is people like to think they are pros.

December 4, 2019 at 1:00PM

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Joseph Lindsay
Director of Photography/Motion Designer
286

Agreed. iPhones have a good look to them, but it's also a very recognizable look if you've watched enough films shot on them. The film above definitely has the iPhone look.

I've got an LG V30 that has been pretty good for shooting most things. Of course, I also tend to stray outside of manual settings, so I've gotten a bit more out of it, though it's been a learning process. The auto settings tend to veer in the same direction as the iPhone's default settings, more or less.

December 5, 2019 at 4:17PM

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David Harter
Writer/Director/Editor/Actor
21

great

December 6, 2019 at 4:01AM

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Muhammad Qasim
Writer
63

*correction*

john wick director assembles full film crew to stage snowball fight, iphone happens to be the acquisition device. it's not exactly aspirational in that you couldn't contrive 1/10th of this without a full budget and crew

December 4, 2019 at 8:39AM

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That is definitely the dopest thing I've ever seen in a while now!

December 4, 2019 at 12:49PM

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Joey Miller
Assistant Photographer
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Hmm. not really feeling this. It looks skillful but somethings not clicking here.
Maybe it's the outdated slow motion shots mimicking 300? People say that John Wicks action is the current level cinematic bar but I disagree. I'm still stuck on the Raid. Dramatic action slow mo feels very early 2000 now.

December 4, 2019 at 9:40PM, Edited December 4, 9:44PM

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Vincent Gortho
none
859

This looks great, but I will say that it definitely has the iPhone default settings "look" to it. I attended a smartphone film festival a few months ago, and after watching film after film for several hours, most of which were filmed on iPhones, I noticed that the iPhone gives a definite "look" to its films: light sources that wash the area around them, artificially high contrast between different items within the frame, and an exaggerated color scheme.

It's a great look for most purposes, I'll say that. However, any filmmaker who aspires to use a smartphone to make films, be warned: If you use only the default settings, your film will look VERY dated within just a few years. It's a bit of a learning curve if you're just starting out, but it's worth learning how to use your smartphone's manual settings, particularly your f-stop settings, ISO, color temperature, and white balance (I've found that auto focus is less important).

December 5, 2019 at 4:11PM, Edited December 5, 4:13PM

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David Harter
Writer/Director/Editor/Actor
21

The director of John Wick is talking about story telling, LOL.

December 5, 2019 at 4:37PM

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