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Claire Foy and Matt Damon-in a film shot on a smartphone

Mobile phone film-making must be going mainstream when Matt Damon has a cameo in a feature film shot on an iPhone. It might be a movie made by his greatest collaborator, director Steven Soderbergh, but still – the entire camera department for Soderbergh’s latest film, Unsane, fitted into a backpack.

用手机拍摄电影一定会成为主流,因为连马特·达蒙(Matt Damon)都在用iPhone拍摄的一部剧情片中客串角色了。这可能是因为该片导演是他的最佳合作伙伴史蒂文·索德伯格(Steven Soderbergh),但不论如何,《丧心病狂》(Unsane)这部电影的全部摄影器材可以装进一只后背包。

Unsane is in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival. Soderbergh’s choice to make a film using mobile technology has been much publicised, unlike the last widely acclaimed feature film shot on an iPhone – Sean Baker’s Tangerine, which revealed its source only as the credits rolled during its premiere.

《丧心病狂》是柏林国际电影节(Berlin International Film Festival)参赛影片之一。索德伯格选择用手机来拍摄这部电影,这一点已被广泛公之于众,与此相反,上一部广受好评的用手机拍摄的电影正片,西恩·贝克(Sean Baker)的《橘色》(Tangerine),只在首映仪式上滚动播出演职人员表时才自曝来源。

Soderbergh, who started his career with the ultra experimental Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989, says he was seeking more of the same thrill, rather than a gimmick, with Unsane, which stars The Crown’s Claire Foy as a young woman who is involuntarily committed to a mental health institution, where she believes her stalker works.

导演索德伯格出道于1989年,他的处女作《性、谎言和录像带》(Sex, Lies, and Videotape)是一部极端实验性质的电影。他说,拍摄《丧心病狂》并非是在耍花招,而是在追求电影制作初体验时的那种激情。《丧心病狂》的主演是《王冠》(The Crown)主演之一克莱尔·福伊(Claire Foy),她在电影中扮演一个年轻女人非自愿地被送到精神病院,她认为她的跟踪狂在此工作。
“I wanted to release it under a different name,” the film-maker reveals. “But that didn’t work out, so I tried to keep it secret for as long as possible. I’ve decided not to be defensive about it being defined as ‘that iPhone movie’ and if people only turn up out of curiosity – well, that’s still the price of a movie ticket.”


RIP celluloid?


A major film shot this way is rare enough that it’s still dubbed ‘that iPhone movie’, but the rave reviews Sean Baker received for Tangerine in 2015, which made back eight times its original budget at the box office, made Baker fret he was helping to kill off the medium he loved.


“I’m worried about the death of film,” he confessed at the time. “There’s a quality to film that no matter what filters you have on your digital camera, you can’t achieve the same effect.”


Timur Berkmambetov, the Kazakh-born director behind 2008’s Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, and the more ill-fated re-imagining of blockbuster Ben Hur in 2016, has no such qualms. His film, Profile, also showing at Berlin, is the story of a journalist who creates a fake Facebook profile of a radicalised Muslim convert. The action unfolds entirely within the confines of a computer screen, and its production included the use of Skype and mobiles in order to film simultaneously in different countries. Berkmambetov already successfully made Unfriended in 2015 using the same methods, and calls them ‘Screenlife’ films.

出生于哈萨克的导演提莫·贝克曼贝托夫(Timur Berkmambetov)不担心这些。2008年,他拍摄了《通缉令》(Wanted),主演是安吉丽娜·朱莉(Angelina Jolie);2016年,翻拍了跻身年度烂片前列的《宾虚》(Ben-Hur)。他的电影《个人主页》(Profile)也在柏林电影节上放映,讲述了一名记者创建了一个虚假的穆斯林极端分子的脸书主页的故事,全部情节均在电脑屏幕上展开,并应用Skype和手机来实现在不同国家的同步拍摄。贝克曼贝托夫已经用同样的方式成功制作了《解除好友》(Unfriended),并称之为"屏幕生活"电影。

“Human drama has moved on,” he claims, “and if our stories are to stay true they have to move on too. We’ve migrated to living on digital interfaces and the way we interact has become inseparable from our phones and tablets. People go to sleep with their phones in their hands.”


Berkmambetov is now planning a film shot entirely using mobiles, along with an on-screen version of Romeo and Juliet.


Life through a screen


“Also, I would be happy to see a disaster movie happening on the screen of a device just because that’s how we’re all going to see it if, God forbid, something terrible happens, we will all be taking pictures and streaming no matter what’s happening around us,” he adds.


Profile’s storyline clearly lends itself to smartphones, and so did Tangerine’s. While tech has moved a long way from the shaky cameras of The Blair Witch Project of 1999 – and the plot its makers said they wrote to explain its poor technical quality – Soderbergh admits that even in 2018, he needed a project that would lend itself to using phones. Unsane, a psychological horror romp with B-movie overtones, seemed to fit the bill.

《个人主页》的故事情节很适合用智能手机拍摄,《橘色》亦如此。1999年,拍摄恐怖片《布莱尔女巫》(The Blair Witch Project)时,摄像机还是晃来晃去的,制作人说他们还写了剧情来解释当时糟糕的技术质量。当前,尽管技术已有长足进步,索德伯格承认即使到了2018年,他也需要一个适合用手机拍摄的电影项目。《丧心病狂》这部暗含廉价劣质电影意味的心理类恐怖娱乐片似乎正合要求。

“I think the positives are I can put the lens anywhere in a matter of seconds, and within minutes you can watch a rehearsal, lock a scene and then shoot it, which keeps the energy going. The only real downsides are that the phone is very sensitive to vibration, and the sensors are very small,” he explains.


Bruno Smadja founded the Mobile Film Festival back in 2005, just as cameras were added to phones, but he still believes this kind of film-making should be “pictures before paintings. With great artists, you can see their sketches and often they’re wonderful in themselves, but then they go on to paint.”

2005年,布鲁诺·萨马加(Bruno Smadja)创办了移动电影节(Mobile Film Festival),当时手机才刚装上摄像头,但是他仍然认为这种电影制作方式应首先是照片,其次才是绘画。在伟大的艺术家手中,你可以看他们的草图,通常这些草图本身就很奇妙,但是他们仍然继续作画。"

The 2018 festival competition features filmmakers from 22 countries, and their films can only last one minute. Its star is young French director Morgan Simon, who after competing at the festival, went on to make his first feature film, A Taste of Ink, which showed at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016.

22个国家的电影制作人在2018电影节上竞技,他们的电影时长只能有一分钟。电影界明星是年轻的法国导演摩根·西蒙(Morgan Simon)。参加完此次竞赛之后,摩根继续制作它的首部剧情片《墨水的味道》( A Taste of Ink),该片在2016年的多伦多电影节上放映。

Despite founding the event, Smadja says: “I’m not sure that it’s ever going to be normal to shoot a feature on a phone, no. The movie industry is one of art, and a lot of creations need to have technicians behind it in order to create the beauty of film. I wouldn’t want to lose this.”


But while Sean Baker, immediately after shooting Tangerine, returned to traditional methods of making films, and got the Oscar-nominated The Florida Project out of it, Steven Soderbergh says he’s been re-invigorated by the experience of shooting Unsane.

然而,西恩·贝克一拍完《橘色》就重拾传统电影拍摄手法,获得奥斯卡提名的《佛罗里达乐园》(The Florida Project)就是他用传统手法拍摄的,与其相反,索德伯格说《丧心病狂》的拍摄经历为其注入了新的能量。

“I’m supposed to start a new movie in a week,” he muses. “I’m thinking about whether I can go back to the ‘normal’ way of working or am I too enamoured of what the new technology allows me to do? It’s been as close to the sensation I had when I was making films as a teenager.”


Lowkey cinema


The deciding factor may be critical reaction to Unsane. Soderbergh says he warned his actors that making a guerilla-style, smartphone film in a week “wouldn’t just feel like kids from high school making a movie, it would feel like kids from junior high school making a movie,” but the Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney isn’t impressed by its look.

决定性因素可能是《丧心病狂》获得的影片批评。索德伯格说他警告过他的演员,在一周内制作一部低成本的智能手机电影,"不像高中生拍电影,更像初中生拍电影那种感觉,"好莱坞记者戴维·鲁尼(David Rooney)对其成品评价不高。

“It mostly looks drab. It’s also distinctly unflattering on many of the actors, although possibly this was the desired effect,” he writes.


The director may or not make take comfort, however, in the mixed reviews the film has received being directed at the plot – one critic called it ‘a pantomime’ – rather than the method used to shoot it.


“My intention is that the movie is one that anyone could go into a cinema and watch, and have no concept of what it was shot on, or care, because it looks like a normal film,” he explains.


It’s doubtful that without Soderbergh and Foy’s name attached, Unsane would be getting a cinema release. However Soderbergh maintains his foray into mobile movie-making is part of a potential seismic shift for modern film-makers.


‘Technology is evolving so rapdily that within the next year you’ll see cameras that aren’t much bigger than a phone with very sizeable sensors on it, and it will be interesting to see who will embrace it and who won’t,” he predicts.


“I did this because I wanted to put myself in the space of a young film-maker, and what kind of decisions I would make,” Soderbergh adds. “When I was starting out it was incredibly expensie even to make a short film, but now you have no excuse, the only obstacle is yourself.”

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