Lajos Egri’s classic “The Art of Dramatic Writing” is a must-read for playwrights and screenwriters. The book’s first tip is to start with a serious premise—the big idea that you want to get across. The value of Egri’s advice is illustrated in “The Interview” (in French “L’Entretien”), a one-minute comedy directed by French filmmakers Benjamin LaPierre and Alexandre Gaudou. Its serious premise—that prejudice doesn’t pay—provides coherence without lessening the movie’s humor. The directors—who play the male roles— talk about the making of their movie (below).
L'Entretien - FILM réalisé avec un iPhone (tournage & montage) - YouTube
Behind the Scenes with Benjamin LaPierre & Alexandre Gaudou
MMM: How did you come up with the idea for “The Interview”?
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: The idea of our film was born from our desire to enter the Mobile Film Festival 2018 in Paris. The theme of the competition was STAND UP 4 HUMAN RIGHTS. We wanted to play with the prejudices that exist around the roles of men and women in society.
MMM: Which of you was in charge during the shoot?
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: We both directed the film. Even our actress Alissia sometimes offered us ideas during filming. We are very attentive to the actors because they often have very good ideas.
MMM: Could you talk about writing the piece?
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: We worked from a rather light script. We did a lot of improvisation for the placement of the cameras and the monologue of the main character, which was totally improvised by Alex.
MMM: How did you cast the part of the female manager?
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: Alissia works with us regularly and has participated in many of our projects. She is first a friend before being our favorite actress. We know that we can count on her to offer a convincing interpretation. We explain the result we want and then she composes her own character.
MMM: The set looks very authentic.
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: It is a real location. We had access to filming there thanks to Alex, who works in that office.
MMM: Were there any challenges during the production?
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: We paid attention to the lighting and the sound recording, which can be the problems related to the mobile shooting. So we installed some LED lights and plugged an external microphone into our smartphone.
MMM: On your YouTube page, you provide a big list of items you used in the shoot. Could you talk about the gear?
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: We often use a lot of material, but it is always small, cheap and easy to use. We want to show that video production is accessible to all. The essential accessories to have are a tripod, lights, and an external microphone. If you want to make a video with a little more sophistication, we advise using a stabilizer like the Osmo Mobile 2, which remains at a reasonable price for what it can do.
MMM: Anything else you’d like to add?
BENJAMIN & ALEXANDRE: “The Interview” got a place in the finals at the Amnesty International contest and is very popular with our audience, so we are very proud of it.
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“The Interview” was chosen by the editors of MobileMovieMaking.com as a Mobile Movie of the Week.
In 2018, their visual effects comedy “Copier Coller ” was included in this Magazine’s 13 Best Mobile Movies of the Year.
“Life in a Tiny Town” explores locations in South India. It was shot on iPhone XS Max, with the Movi Freefly Cinema Robot providing stabilization. The Texas-based director—Prakash Gandhi Natarajan—says about the film: “I wanted to the audience audience to feel connected to the people, so I took them inside my house and onto the streets where I grew up, while capturing both daily life and festivals.” In the opening shot, Natarajan establishes his devotion to creative cinematography with the slanted image and the frame-within-a-frame composition. Following the movie, you can read his observations about the technical advantages in shooting an iPhone XS Max travelogue.
Life in a Tiny Town - Shot on iPhone XS Max - YouTube
Natarajan previously shared his mini-doc “Diwali Pongal,” a travelogue that combines smartphone and drone footage. Here, he gives reasons for shooting on the iPhone XS Max with the Movie Freefly Cinema Robot.
iPhone XS Max
I moved from the iPhone X to the iPhone XS Max because a larger screen is always welcome while you are shooting. Also color reproduction—including contrast and saturation—is far superior to what you get with previous iPhones. This reduces the need for color grading since the footage out of the camera is well processed by the software. Finally, the battery of iPhone XS Max is amazing. I can shoot the whole day without needing a recharge.
Movi Freefly Cinema Robot
This is the best gimbal I ever used. I was a heavy user of DJI Osmo Mobile and did several productions with it. However, because the DJi Osmo Mobile couldn’t handle the heavier weight of the iPhone XS Max, I purchased DJI Osmo Mobile 2. But I had the same issue with it. Internet community suggested that I use a counter weight on the DJI Osmo Mobile 1 and 2 to balance the weight of the iPhone XS Max.
While that solution worked, in worked against the big advantage of smartphone filmmaking: spending less time setting up the equipment and more time capturing moments. So I tried Movi Freefly Cinema Robot and it handled the iPhone XS Max weight with ease. Also it has different shooting modes. The opening shot of the movie was shot using barrel roll. If you use it effectively the shots turn out very cinematic. The speeded up shots of my dad driving a scooter and my mom with her friend walking in a street was done via MoviLapse which is a moving timelapse. Finally, because of its design, when you are done shooting you can just set it on any surface unlike other gimbals on the market.
I edited the movie primarily using LumaFusion on the Apple iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil. For polishing, I used Final Cut Pro X on my MacBook Pro.
The music is “Wanderer” performed by Remember the Future. It was licensed from from Premium Beat Music Library.
Shooting locations—all in South India—were Mayiladuthurai, Kuthalam, Thirumanamcheri, Aadudhurai, Kovindhapuram, Sivaramapuran, Naranamangalam, and Kumbakonam.
The romantic comedy genre usually includes an element of fantasy. While some of the action may be realistic, as we see in classics such as “Some Like It Hot” and “Tootsie,” improbabilities abound. And that is the case with Ivan Sosnin’s “Promise”. This Russian production won the 2018 Global Mobile Film Awards top prize. The twist in “Promise” is that the protagonists are in their 80s. In the course of the 5 minute movie, the heroes get into all sorts of mischief. Their high jinks are best seen rather than described. But we don’t need a spoiler alert to reveal that the theme of this romantic comedy is: “You’re never to old to have fun.” Comedy aside, the wonderfully made film—shot using a Samsung Galaxy Note 8—illustrates a number of techniques discussed following the movie (below). There, you’ll also find a translation of the lyrics of the title song performed by Mgzavrebi, a popular Georgian band.
Key Moments in “Promise”
“Promise”provides plenty of entertainment with everything from a rock show to larceny. But the movie also illustrates a number of sophisticated moviemaking techniques. The following breakdown identifies a few of them. Replay the movie and you’ll probably discover many more lessons hiding in plain view.
0:01 The sound of footsteps under title card create a moment of mystery: “Who goes there?”
0:12 Showing the figure through distorted glass door keeps the suspense going if only for a few seconds.
0:17 The nurse makes a robot-like turn, setting up her contrast with the free-spirited characters whom we’ll soon meet.
0:36 Spitting out the pills previews the idea that this is a movie about independence.
0:44 Exiting through the window suggests that this is a movie about escape and freedom.
0:46 The woman’s hands pressed against the glass door suggest her status as a prisoner.
0:59 The woman’s awkward descent on the steps characterize her as aged, setting up her transformation into a vibrant and confident person.
1:10 As with the Yellow Brick Road in “The Wizard of Oz,” the country lane hints at the idea that the characters are on their way to a new life. The man’s brief look back—and their anxious expressions as cars zip by—tell us that the protagonists are not certain that the future will bring them happiness.
1:29 Stealing the car reinforces the idea—first presented in the pill-spitting shot—that our protagonists are anything but conventional old people.
1:35 The u-shape of the road, captured in a dramatic aerial shot, visualizes the idea that the couple are turning their lives around.
1:40 The woman’s smile and arm symbolize newfound joy and independence, a state of mind reinforced in the next scene when she puts on jewelry and makeup.
2:27 Like dramatic exits—the man climbing out the nursing home window—surprise entrances can define a person’s character. In this case, sneaking through the foliage into the pool area tells us, “These characters are adventurous risk takers.” The sequence end with a young person taking a stand against fun.
3:49 The smartphone scene provides another example of exploiting characters who aren’t what they seem. Although we already know that the old people are rule breakers and law breakers, the woman’s pretense of directing the young girls fools us again when she steals the phone. Her ability to outrun the victims is the kind of fantasy that is believable…in a romantic comedy.
4:05 The long sequence of selfie taking, water play, dancing, and embracing seem predictable and may lull viewers into feeling “I’ve seen this all before.” But it is a perfect set-up to the…
4:42 … faux death scene that is the perfect romantic comedy climax complete with fireworks.
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“Promise” was chosen by the editors of MobileMovieMaking.com as the Mobile Movie of the Week.
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Lyrics for the song “Promise” ( Пообещай) by the Georgian rock group Mgzavrebi
The close-up is one of moviemaking’s great distinguishing features. Even in the front row of a live theater, you can’t see details such as sweat on a character’s brow or fingers plucking guitar strings. When you shoot close-ups of your subject, you not only reveal realities that are ordinarily hidden, but you also bring the audience into the action. And then there’s visual impact: Compare the power of a handshake or a kiss seen from a respectful distance with the same action viewed just inches away.
By making the small effort of coming in close, you will dazzle viewers. And this is true no matter what kind of movie you’re making. While close-ups are famously used in dramas, love stories, and horror pictures, the technique is just as powerful in documentaries, travelogues, instructional videos, commercials, music videos, and—as Irish mobile journalist Philip Bromwell demonstrates here—news featurettes.
You may be reluctant to shoot close-ups of people because you don’t want to violate their personal space. Most people aren’t like the character Laura Desmond who—in “Sunset Boulevard”—said “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.” However, if you ask, most people will be OK with your filming them close-up.
How to Do It
There are three common ways to obtain close-ups:
Physically move your camera close to the subject. Thanks to the light weight of mobile devices, this is the easiest method, and it usually produces terrific results.
Use a telephoto lens. A long lens is your only option if the subject is unreachable, for example an element of a tall building or an animal that would be dangerous to approach. Because telephoto lenses magnify shakiness, it’s best to put the camera on a tripod or use another stabilizer.
In post production, use your editor’s cropping tool. The downside is that you’ll lose visual quality, so it’s best to employ this option only as a last resort. Keep such shots short so that viewers will be less likely to notice the visual cheat.
But whatever method you use, the key is that you keep your eyes open for close-up opportunities.
Many great movies started out as books and short stories. Examples of adaptation include “Gone with the Wind,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Birds,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “The Graduate,” and “Blade Runner.” Hollywood’s time-tested strategy of taping earlier sources for cinematic story ideas works equally well with short movies. As evidence, take a look at “Dulcinea.” Written and directed by Madrid-based filmmaker Francisco Lidón Plaza, this short comedy—shot on an iPhone X— is loosely based on “Don Quixote.” The film won the Best Short Award at the 2018 Las Rozas Movil Festival, and earned the director Cinephone 2018’s Best Film Artist award.
Dulcinea - YouTube
Tips for Finding Cinematic Story Ideas Via Adaptation
Look everywhere. Memorable movies have been based on short stories, novels, plays, newspaper and magazine articles, songs, poems, and comics.
Don’t worry about length. There are plenty of examples of very short stories being turned into a feature film—Hitchcock’s “The Birds” comes to mind. ” And as we see with “Dulcinea,” an extremely long novel can be adapted as a short movie.
Feel free to rework the material, for example, by adding new plot elements or changing locations. A famous example of filmmakers taking liberties is the film “Bullitt,” based on Robert Fish’s novel Mute Witness. In Fish’s book, there is no car chase, and the action is set in New York City, not San Francisco. That said, if the source material is well-known, it makes sense to include the core idea in the new work.
Do not allow the source material to limit your creativity. Many adaptations, such as “The Godfather” and “Spider-Man,” surprise us with their originality. In case you’re not persuaded, remember that many of Shakespeares greatest hits were based on earlier plays.
If you’ve shot a mobile movie based on material found elsewhere, we invite you to share it with us. Email: email@example.com.
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“Dulcinea” has been chosen by the editors of MobileMovieMaking.com as a Mobile Movie of the Week.