Matteo Bertoli is a 28 year old Italian filmmaker who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Some of his iPhone and Google Pixel videos have received wide recognition, and we managed to catch up with him to learn more about his filmmaking journey and his use of smartphones for filmmaking.
One of Matteo Bertoli's incredible iPhone films
How’d you become a filmmaker?
I was a DJ in clubs when I was in university, and because of my interest in music, I did a course in TV and radio. I was originally only interested in the radio side of my education, but then I started editing and really liked it. That sparked my interest in filmmaking. After completing my degree in 3 years, I worked as a freelance video producer.
I’ve been a full time filmmaker since 2012. I started working in Italy after graduating from university, then moved to Dublin in 2014, and worked for a video production company. I directed and shot my first documentary, “Rebirth” and my first short film, “Brenda” while living there. I moved to the US in January this year and was a full-time cinematographer for a luxury real estate marketing company. I work in-house at a sports nutrition company now, doing product videos and customer testimonials. When I have time, I work on color grading projects on the side.
How’d you end up in the USA?
I took my first trip to the United States when I was 17 years old. I came here for a vacation and fell in love with the country and the weather. It was my dream to come back here to live and work, and I managed to do that this year. Life here in the US is great for many reasons. It’s a lot easier to do things in the US, whether it’s opening a business or getting in touch with people that you want to connect with.
What gear do you typically shoot with?
I used to shoot everything on a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, but then I started shooting with phones, including the iPhone 6s Plus and the Google Pixel, and I enjoy shooting with them too.
Why’d you decide to shoot with the iPhone?
I wanted to prove that you can create great content with just a phone. Instead of focusing on the gear, what kind of story can you tell with the equipment that you have with you? To me, the beauty of filmmaking is in the ability to tell a story, not what camera you shot your film with.
What were the main advantages of shooting with the iPhone?
The biggest one is that you always have it with you. It’s small, light and easy to use. The iPhone 6s Plus was also one of the first 4K cameras that was widely available. For a smartphone, I was very impressed with its dynamic range.
Matteo's film of Montenegro, shot on the iPhone
What were the drawbacks of shooting with the iPhone?
The downsides to shooting with the iPhone are the ones most people complain about. Shooting high bitrate 4K footage drains the battery very quickly and I run out of memory capacity very quickly. I also miss having depth of field and can’t do as much in color grading as I can with my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.
How’d you overcome the limitations of the video files from the iPhone?
When I think of shooting with the iPhone, I think of shooting with the Sony A7s. The files out of both cameras are 8-bit 4:2:0, so I handle them in the same way. For editing, I convert from MP4 to ProRes. To overcome power and memory limitations, I use a battery pack and Sandisk memory key, respectively.
Matteo massages some beautiful footage from the iPhone 7 Plus
What’s your workflow and what apps do you use?
In my workflow, I shoot with both Filmic Pro and Filmakr. I then download footage to my computer, use MPEG stream clip to convert from mp4 to ProRes to make it easier to edit, and import into DaVinci Resolve, where I edit and grade. I usually apply a light LUT, fix the white balance and make some minor adjustments before exporting.
What sorts of film projects do you have cooking?
It’s hard to find the time to shoot personal projects these days, but I really enjoy and would love to do more travel and experimental films. I also would love to shoot something for Apple someday.
You can learn more about Matteo and see samples of his work on his website, www.matteobertoli.me