Oscar-winning director’s iPhone short is all about the joy of shooting vertically

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Damien Chazelle
You don't need widescreen vistas to tell an amazing story.
Photo: Apple

People who shoot iPhone videos vertically are often mocked for having committed some nigh-unforgivable sin. Well, you count Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land) among the guilty. And he’s far from embarrassed about it.

Apple Wednesday debuted a short film shot by Chazelle using his iPhone 11 Pro. In the “Vertical Cinema” short, the Oscar-winning filmmaker shows how vertical shooting can be used to breathe new life into existing movie tropes. Lots and lots of movie tropes. Check it out below.

Oscar winner’s iPhone short

Here’s how Apple describes the short:

“A journey through cinema history is reimagined for the vertical screen in Damien Chazelle’s ‘The Stunt Double,’ a short film Shot on iPhone 11 Pro. Watch as classic genres are flipped on their side, from action movies to silent films, spy flicks to westerns, reframing and modernizing the movie magic we know and love.”

Apple also shared a “making of” video showing Chazelle shooting the short. Apple brokered a deal with the Oscar-winning moviemaker a couple of years back. He is developing content for Apple TV+. However, it appears that, along the way, he’s also happy to lend his considerable talents to advertising the iPhone 11.

The resurgence of vertical filming

The resurgence in vertical shooting is actually a really interesting phenomenon. It’s one I expect we’ll see a whole lot more of in the years to come. Most of us interact with our iPhones vertically, making content shot in this way a natural choice. Some research has also shown that viewers are, for whatever reason, more likely to complete a vertical video than one shot horizontally.

Add to that the ubiquity of vertical as a format for everything from cropped video spot commercials to Instagram Stories and I expect that today’s generation of viewers will have way less of a problem with it than their predecessors.

What Damien Chazelle shows is that there are plenty of artistic possibilities for vertical. Just as widescreen aspect ratio transformed cinema in the 1950s and beyond, so can vertical offer new ways of presenting familiar ideas.

What do you think of this Oscar winner’s iPhone short? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.