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Top 10 Movies Shot in Unconventional Ways

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Derick McDuff

Film Production Rule #1: There are no rules. From Escape From Tomorrow, to Steve Jobs, to Hardcore Henry, these movies were not shot in the typical Hollywood style. WatchMojo ranks the top movies shot in unconventional ways.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Movies%20Shot%20in%20Unconventional%20Ways Special thanks to our user liam_schell for suggesting this idea!


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And now for something completely different! Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies Shot in Unconventional Ways.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most uniquely filmed movies, whether it was shot with a strange camera, used interesting cinematography, or used any other techniques not typically seen in traditional filmmaking.

#10: “Escape From Tomorrow” (2013)

In one of the most famous examples of guerilla filmmaking, “Escape From Tomorrow” was shot entirely in secret at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks. The film was meticulously planned out ahead of time to get shots at the correct time of day, while actors would rehearse in hotels, keeping scripts hidden on their phones. Cameramen used the same types of cameras that typical tourists would carry and shot in black and white to compensate for the lack of lighting. Post production was done in secret in South Korea. Featuring violence, nudity and a negative portrayal of Disney, the company surprised everyone when rather than sue, they largely ignored the film.

#9: “Steve Jobs” (2015)

This biopic, chronicling the life of entrepreneur and Apple founder Steve Jobs, was split into three parts, chronicling the different portions of the tech innovator’s life. What made this film unique was that each act was shot using a different medium. The scenes taking place in 1984 were shot on 16mm film, the ones in 1988 were shot with 35mm, and finally the scenes taking place in 1998 were shot digitally. This was done to mirror both the advancement of technology that Jobs was pushing forward, and the development of Jobs himself. As the film progressed, the cinematography became sharper and more well defined.

#8: “Russian Ark” (2002)

It’s impressive enough to shoot a ninety-six minute film all in a single sequence, but “Russian Ark” takes this to a new level. The Russian historical drama was shot in the prestigious Winter Palace in the Hermitage Museum, with the cameraman following a precise route between thirty-three rooms capturing over two thousand actors and three separate orchestras, all in perfectly choreographed harmony in the elaborate tracking shot. The film used the unique locale to take the audience on a trip through three hundred years of Russian history, and became a favorite with art house movie goers and critics.

#7: “J'accuse” (1919)

What makes this film stand out is that parts of “J’accuse” were shot on actual battlefields, using real soldiers and the battles of World War I, with the full support of the French military. Director Abel Gance had been drafted but was later recalled due to poor health. As the constant news of his friends dying trickled in he became inspired to make a moving piece about the horrors of war. What really lands this film on our list is that Gance tricked the French military to get it made, telling them it would be a patriotic celebration, but making the final film a harrowing and somber condemnation of war.

#6: “Hardcore Henry” (2016)

Shot in the first person by attaching GoPros to a specially made mask, “Hardcore Henry” is reminiscent of video games, particularly first person shooters. Many of the film’s plot points further draw parallels between the film and FPS style games. This includes Henry being an amnesiac and a silent protagonist with cybernetic enhancements mowing down an army of evil goons with a wide arsenal of easily changed weapons. Throughout the movie Henry even has various identical allies, providing him with weapons and vital plot points, all played by the versatile Sharlto Copley. In true video game fashion the film ends with an epic battle and final twist.

#5: “Leviathan” (2012)

Despite it being another film shot with GoPros and other cheap digital cameras, “Leviathan” could not be a more different movie from “Hardcore Henry.” A documentary focused on the fishing industry, the film immerses viewers in the lives of those on the boat by having these handheld cameras strapped to everything from the boat, to the men working on it, and even the fish themselves. “Leviathan” gives a harrowing look at the toll the fishing industry takes on the ocean and the fishermen, all without offering any commentary, or even containing very much dialogue.

#4: “Timecode” (2000)

Like “Russian Ark” this is a film that was only possible because of digital technology, and the ability to shoot a single take continuously for its entire runtime. Coming from a time when digital filmmaking was still in its infancy, movies like “Russian Ark” and “Timecode” were experimenting with what was possible with the new format. This film follows four different people in real time in a screen split into four quadrants as they interact and conflict with each other. The movie also features improvised dialogue, and a sound design that highlighted whichever of the four segments was the dramatic focus of the moment.

#3: “Barry Lyndon” (1975)

Stanley Kubrick has been hailed as one of the world’s best directors for his mastery of cinematography and preference for shooting in innovative and unusual ways. His film “Barry Lyndon” is no exception. Kubrick, along with cinematographer John Alcott, painstakingly recreated the feel of Europe during the Seven Years War, using an aesthetic reminiscent of British painter William Hogarth. Kubrick’s almost unheard of decision to shoot largely with candlelight instead of electricity helped achieve this unconventional look. Years later another master filmmaker, Alejandro G. Iñárritu would also shoot “The Revenant” using all natural lighting.

#2: “Tangerine” (2015)

Films shot using iPhones have become more and more common due to the pervasiveness of the technology and the close personal feel that shooting with a single handheld gives. Even big name directors have begun to experiment with iPhones to shoot their films, as Steven Soderbergh did with his psychological thriller “Unsane.” The first feature length film shot in this way to make major waves however was “Tangerine,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was quickly lauded by critics. The film utilized three iPhone 5s bolstered with apps and devices like a clip on aperture lenses to complete the cinematic feel.

#1: “Boyhood” (2014)

In “Boyhood” the main character gradually grows up before the audience’s eyes in a way that a film shot in a traditional time frame could never hope to do. Director Richard Linklater actually shot the film over the course of twelve years, shooting once a year and maintaining the same cast throughout. The audience gets to watch the film’s main character gradually grow from a six year old to an eighteen year old, ready to head to college. Naturally, shooting on such a prolonged schedule presented some interesting challenges, including keeping consistency and shooting in a format that became increasingly outdated as production continued.


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