How to Make Good Video on a Shoestring Budget


Q: What do I need?

A: An iPhone!



Before you read this, please look at this 3′ 30″ video: 


This video was made by people with no experience (except the director…me) with a shoot time of about 30 minutes and editing time of about two hours. Cost = almost zero. “How can this be?” you say.

The iPhone (and other smart phones) can produce amazingly high quality video with the push of a button. In addition to  the iPhone, here is some other equipment you will need: 



1) A microphone 

A mistake many people make is relying on the built-in mic on their phones or cameras. If you are more than two feet from your subject, the audio gets awful. The solution is to plug a mic into the headphone jack.  To do this, you will need an adapter  that converts the audio out jack to audio in. The adaptor will have three rings  on it. You can get these for both the consumer grade small 1/8″ mics, or a larger, more professional  XLR mics. Cost is around $25 (


  Clip the mic onto the interviewee’s collar about two inches below the mouth. 


2) Stabilizer

I’d advise you to get a “Slingshot” to hold your iPhone. This helps to eliminate shaking. They are available on Amazon for $35. 

Company web page:


Other Issues


1) Location and Lighting

 Control for noisy background and visual distractions. For interviews, indoor is generally better. Put your subject near a window or an incandescent light. Another handy option is a portable hand-held battery operated light like the ePhoto VL 36 LED Portable Continuous Light (on Amazon for $23)


2) Interview Technique

  • Keep it short. Brevity makes it easier on the interviewee, and on you because a short interview is easier to edit. There are three parts to the interview: 
  • Ask general background questions to relax the person.
  • Once rapport is built, ease into the more substantive questions – the heart of the information you want.
  • Use paraphrasing all along to let the person know you are understanding what they are saying and not judging them. This makes the person feel safer to go deeper. 
  • Begin to wrap up and ask if there is anything else they’d like to say. Thank them for their time. 
  • Since your voice will be edited out of the final production, ask the person to answer in a way that reflects the question. For example, if the question is, “How long have you worked here?” they should not say, “Thirty years.” Rather have them say, “I’ve worked here for 30 years.” 


3) Editing

iMovie is a terrific editing tool for the Mac. You can cut, create transitions, and add text. It is easy to learn. For more professional videos, like what we’d use to promote PowerSpeaking programs, we use Bezat video in San Francisco:


Other examples of video I’ve made with my iPhone:

Ann Salley

Rick and Melinda at San Miguel

Interview with Adele Scheele

Good Storytelling

A jazz legend


Now, grab that iPhone, go out there and create some videos.

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