While there’s never been a sure fire way to win work and sustain a living as a photographer or film maker, and particularly not today given how much change we are seeing, having your own unique vision can help set you apart from the crowd. Young film maker Paul Trillo has shown time and again how an interesting perspective can separate him and his work from the pack. After watching his recent innovative short, you'll likely never be able to look at your phone in the same way again.
Paul has just released “The Life And Death Of An iPhone”, a film he shot and edited entirely on a – you guessed it – iPhone, that shows us what our lives look like from it’s rather unique perspective. Even a year or so back it would never have occurred to me that we could edit video easily on our phone, and now apps like Vimeo’s Cameo are here to prove otherwise, which was the client for Paul in this piece.
The result is a fascinating reflection on what our lives have become, as we find ourselves physically and emotionally tethered to a device that didn’t even exist a decade ago.
I spoke briefly with Paul about the concept and how he went about producing the piece…
[Vimeo] asked me to shoot a short on the iPhone, which seemed like a limitation at first. I wanted to do something narrative but I need a reason to justify why it would be shot on an iPhone. When I started thinking about looking at life through the lens of the phone, seeing the world from our device's perspective, it became really exciting. It felt like it had to be done, [in fact] I was worried someone else had already made this type of film.
From this initial idea, Paul began to storyboard the concept out and give it structure:
I started taking notes of all the stupid things I've noticed people do with their smart phones, myself included. I started structuring it into a script and realized that in order for it to be complete, to create a sense of a larger scale, it needed to touch on the Chinese factories and the Chinese black market. A weird full circle that happens with a lot of phones.
One of the key narrative elements he seizes upon so well – and which keeps the story flowing – is the almost seamless viewing experience of masking the cuts between different scenes. He mentioned how this idea came about:
The idea for the transitions came after I thought of the story. I wanted it to feel like one continuous experience. So I did a test with the transitions and it had a simple magic to it. The whole thing evolved into a more experimental narrative. Pushing what was possible to capture with the phone that you couldn't with larger cameras.
For those of you thinking about shooting your own mobile based film, the process was pretty straightforward from what Paul outlined:
I recorded all the video on the iPhone using an app call Filmic Pro and edited everything in Cameo. It was the first time I set out to shoot a narrative on an iPhone and my first experience editing on the phone as well. All the transitions are done in camera, so the editing just came down to finding that right frame to cut on. To step up the production value, I used the wide angle lens from Moment Lenses and a Zoom IQ6 Microphone. However, I wanted to retain the lo-fi realness of the iPhone, so I never intended on over beautifying anything. In fact, I set out to purposefully make it my ugliest film yet.
It definitely works – by intentionally keeping it looking like phone footage (which of course, is exactly what it is), it makes it that much more believable and immersive. If this had been higher end footage captured from an dedicated camera, it never would have been as believable.
What’s fascinating is that the whole piece was edited by Paul on his iPhone. Given how much screen real estate most editors prefer, with many using multiple monitor set ups, this must have been incredibly frustrating at times.
Cameo has come a long way from where it was originally. It's incredibly simple but does exactly what you need it to do, make precise cuts. There is no audio editing so all the sound effects were recorded by playing sound effects off of a second iPhone. I'd say the only limitation is the screen size. If I used an iPad it would have been that much more enjoyable.
Where does Paul see the future for mobile film making and editing?
By offering a free editing app, it will allow a whole younger generation to familiarize themselves with editing. I would have killed to have something like this when I was younger. I think it will become less and less of a novelty and start becoming a quick solution to create content. There is so much demand for content and coverage in entertainment and journalism, I could see this being a great solution to get something out quick. Just like twitter changed how fast we respond to news headlines.
I’m personally not about to give up Premiere just yet but as someone who has been editing video since the late 90s, this definitely feels like a time of unprecedented change for editing and video content creation. Last month was the first time I actually bothered to edit some video in iMovie on my phone – and it wasn’t actually too bad an experience.
What do you guys think? Can you see yourself editing your photos or even video on this go like this or will it be more of a novelty for quick “stories” like Snapchat and other short form, immediate content creation? Post your thoughts below.
UPDATE - for those emailing asking about the lenses used for this, you can see more detail on the Moments lens range for iPhone here
Special thanks / Images courtest of [Paul Trillo]