Filmmaker uses iPhone 8 Plus and lockdown to create a feature-length movie

Jennifer Zhang In Charon
Jennifer Zhang In Charon (Image credit: Jennifer Zhang)

What you need to know

  • Filmmaker Jennifer Zhang was stuck in lockdown with no work to do, so she created a movie using nothing other than an iPhone 8.
  • The movie had zero budget but still turned out to be a compelling feature film.

Filmmaker Jenniger Zhang has already been nominated for awards left and right and she might be onto another winner with her new movie — Charon. Filmed singlehandedly using nothing more than an iPhone 8 Plus, Charon is a wild ride through lockdown for all of us, not just Zhang.

Just the synopsis is enough to whet the appetite.

A notorious hacker trapped under strict house arrest has her isolated, regimented world turned upside down when her boyfriend mysteriously begins dialing in with dark and unusual requests.

That already sounds like my jam, but the trailer drives the potential home.

Zhang says that the whole project came about because she was in lockdown herself and wasn't sure what state her other projects would be in after COVID-19. She set herself a challenge to create a movie using only what she had — an iPhone — and set inside her apartment. I'd say the results speak for themselves.

Charon -- the deeply personal film that was a result of the experiment -- was filmed and edited entirely on an iPhone 8 Plus, completely in one location, with no budget. Zhang held herself to these strict, self-imposed rules: no leaving the apartment. No purchasing extra equipment or software. No leaning on additional crew.... so, set up and light and shoot every shot on her own. Her co-star and collaborators had to make their contributions to the project remotely.

Now I just need to find a way to watch this thing.

As great as this turned out, the iPhone 8 Plus camera is starting to show its age. Maybe Zhang should check out the best iPhone deals we could find and snag herself a nice iPhone 12 Pro instead.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.