Earlier on in the week, we gave you the chance to watch Tom Harper’s new alien invasion short film The Swarm, a project that came into life after Xperia challenged the director to shoot an entire short using nothing but their mobile phones. The result was rather impressive and can be viewed here:
Not only has Tom been very generous with his time and answered a few questions for the ESLF readers but he’s also given us a short ‘making of’ doc about The Swarm as well as 2 original and exclusive poster prints from the movie. To take a look and find out how you can win one of these bad boys carry on reading.
But first he’s a few questions with director Tom Harper:
ESLF: When first approached by Xperia to take on the challenge, what were your first considerations on the difficultly of the project? Was it narrative based or the restrictions of the camera technology?
TH: When first approached by Xperia, it was the restrictions posed by the film that attracted me. I had just been working on The Borrowers – a Christmas film for BBC1 – that involved large amounts of green screen and therefore the project needed meticulous planning and the filming process was complex and time consuming. Therefore making a short film in 3 weeks that could only be shot on a mobile phone was actually quite liberating – though certainly a challenge. The hardest thing was constructing a narrative where it felt natural that people would have their phones out and be recording – but I hope that we pretty much managed to achieve this
ESLF: Found footage is a massive part of the Hollywood machine at the moment, with the instant success of the Paranormal Activity franchise as well as new releases such as The Devil Inside and Chronicle, what do you think the format offers to a filmmaker that makes it so appealing?
TH: I think the format of found footage is appealing because, despite knowing that a story is fictional, the conceit and shooting style make the film feel closer to reality than a conventional film. This works particularly well in the horror genre because the closer the film it is to reality, the more scary it is. Another aspect I like about found footage is that it immediately sets up a mystery: who has assembled this footage and why?
ESLF: The Swarm embodies the technological revolution of the last decade with the introduction of mobile devices being able to capture HD video seamlessly, which in some strange way makes anyone with a modern mobile phone a cinematographer. Include a website like YouTube into that equation; and they have an instant audience for their projects. Do you think, if in any way, these new inventions have an influence on new up and coming directors? If so is that a positive or negative thing?
TH: I think they certainly have an influence on up and coming directors. We are increasingly used to footage shot on mobiles and accustomed to the types of shots you can achieve with small, portable devices. Phone cameras are also great in that anyone can pick them up and experiment with making film. And yes, in theory all you need to be a cinematographer is to pick up a camera – and I do believe that a huge part of what makes great photos are great subjects. But I think it is important to differentiate between picking up a phone camera or making a found footage film and the art of cinematography. It takes great skill and knowledge to be a good cinematographer and whilst it is fantastic that we can now make films on mobile phones, they’ll never be a replacement for professional cameras or professional camera people. They’re different things.
ESLF: Shooting on Xperia phones must be different than using normal camera rigs, is there any stand out differences that you found refreshing as a filmmaker?
TH: Yes! They are much smaller and lighter than a normal film camera which means you can run around with them, give them to actors, throw them around, put them on the end of a long stick and chase people, squeeze them into small spaces, fly them up on a toy helicopter or a helium balloon etc. etc. The possibilities are endless.
ESLF: Final question, do you think it possible with the technology today to shoot an entire feature on a mobile phone and after your experiences on The Swarm, would it be something you consider in the future?
TH: Yes. But the tricky thing is finding a narrative that would sustain it. In an ideal world you would always use the filmmaking equipment that is most suited to the story you want to tell. I think it’s entirely possible for a mobile phone to be the best piece of equipment to make a feature film on – particularly with the rapidly improving tech specs, but I haven’t quite worked out the way to do it yet.
As mentioned before we’ve been given 2 fantastic posters from the film to give away to some lucky readers. So how can you enter to win this awesome prize? The first thing you need to do is go over to the EatSleepLiveFilm.com facebook page and ‘like’ us, then you need answer this simple question:
Tom Harper directed a film back in 2009, what is that films title?
Please send your answer to [email protected] with the subject ‘The Swarm’ and the winner will be drawn out by random. The deadline for entries is Sunday 19th February; any entries after that date will not be counted.