Last year, Steven Soderbergh said iPhone cinema was the future of movies after shooting his deliriously schlocky thriller Unsane entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus. The director was convinced that using a cell phone camera to make movies was the next chapter in his career, and now he’s back with his second feature shot entirely on an iPhone, High Flying Bird. But besides a couple moments in the first trailer, you wouldn’t know it.
Soderbergh takes on the NBA in High Flying Bird, a sports drama from Moonlight writer and Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney. If those two teaming up isn’t enticing enough, the Netflix film is led by André Holland, who starred in Moonlight and Soderbergh’s The Knick series. Holland’s Ray Burke is an ambitious sports agent who attempts to dismantle the power structures of the league from within. During a pro-basketball lockout, Ray has 72 hours to pull off a risky plan with a rookie ball player (Melvin Gregg, aka DeMarcus from Season 2 of American Vandal) and change the industry. Zazie Beetz, Kyle MacLachlan, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Bill Duke, and Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin fill out the rest of the cast. While a few shots have the cheap look of an iPhone camera, the rest of the trailer looks pretty dang impressive visually, and lightyears better than any regular person’s iPhone-shot Instagram stories.
High Flying Bird makes its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival later this month before hitting Netflix on February 8. It’s not the only new Soderbergh you’ll be able to stream this year, though. The director also has his Panama Papers movie The Laundromat—which has a stellar cast including Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, and Gary Oldman—arriving on Netflix later this fall. Then there’s that insane-sounding Soderbergh and Gregg Araki Starz series that is said to split heads in half with its weirdness. If shooting on iPhones means we get more Soderbergh projects and less four-year retirements, then we’ve got no complaints.