Friday, June 16, 2006

The First Feature Film Shot On a Cell Phone

Check out how Down and Dirty they get in Italy. Italian filmmaker's Marcello Mencarini and Barbara Seghezzi shot their feature-length doc, "New Love Meetings" on a Nokia cellphone. I shit you not.

The movie is an updated version of the 1965 Italian documentary, "Love Meetings", by Pier Paolo Pasolini. They shot some 700 interviews using a Nokia N90 cellphone that holds about 1 hour of video and whittled the footage down to 100 interviews with people discussing their love and sex lives and attitudes about sex. The whole thing cost them a few thousand dollars, most of which was spent on travel an hotels.

They are still exploring options for distribution. Undoubtedly, all the attention their unique choice of recording medium has garnered will make distribution much more likely, similar to the unfolding story of the "Four-Eyed Monsters" team which I posted back in January.

No it ain't a High Def XDcam, but they've got compelling content, a completed feature film and publicity splashed across the pages of USA Today, Yahoo News, and I'm sure a dozen other major publications around the world. I don't know about you, but I think that's a damn good result having started with an idea, a cell phone and a few thousand bucks.

Click here to read the USA Today article on "New Love Meetings".

Yet another example of how imagination, creativity, and let's face it- outright balls, can trump a lack of money and traditional resources. That people is the essence of the Down and Dirty DV philosophy...

It doesn't take money to make films, it takes resources.

Stop trying to mimic the methodologies of maintream filmmakers that have more cash and resources than you'll ever have and start trying to figure out ways to maximize the resources you do have at your disposal. Focus on the content. Get creative with your execution and storytelling and you will get results. As Sly and the Family Stone would say...

Free your mind and the rest will follow.

(Or was that the Staple Singers?) Either way, Barbara and Marcello are bonified straight-up guerrillas. 'Til next time. I'm out.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

What the Hell is Machinima...and Why Should Aspiring Filmmaker's Care?

Simply put, it's the latest hypest in filmmaking. I honestly, don't know much about it, but my friend, Skye, sent me a link to a machinima contest sponsored by Intel and I've been hearing some buzz about it for the past few months.

In short, it's a new form of filmmaking using video game technology to create worlds, control actors and camera angles and moves. The new Activision game entitled "The Movies" employs this technology to allow you to choose actors, settings, props, add dialogue, music and then control and record the action in real time. It's like directing a blockbuster without ever leaving your laptop. And as they say in Hollywood, "this baby has legs!" (Unfortunately, it's currently P.C. only, so us evolved Mac users can't check it out. However, there are other machinima tools and software out there.)

Machinima technology has been used for awhile now to do animated storyboards for complex action scenes in big budget movies, but somewhere along the line someone must've realized that if they spruce up the graphics and added some more features that the animated storyboards could actually be the movie, although obviously not a Hollywood blockbuster. Nevertheless, several machinima films have actually competed in film festivals.

The good folks over at have a great short Flash introduction to machinima at And the site has a huge array of info, tutorials and streaming and downloadable machinima movies.

Here's a machinima film by Byrche Wroot entitled "Lover, You Should've Come Over" that was created using Activision's "The Movies" game. It's an excellent example of the storyboarding and storytelling possibilities that machinima has opened up for us digital guerrillas. I don't know about you but I'm impressed an intrigued.

Could this be the future of filmmaking? Was the poorly received Pacino film, "S1mOne", in which a producer slips a "virtual actress" into his film unbeknownst to an adoring public, actually onto something?

I don't have a clue, but my guess is that as technology improves and video game technology becomes more and more life-like (See Xbox 360 or Playstation 3) the possibility is definitely there. I'm not saying that Angelina Jolie is going to be replaced by the "real" Lara Croft anytime soon, but come time for Tomb Raider - Part 5, Angelina might get a run for her money... by a computer-generated character that doesn't require a trailer or a $20 Million dollar paycheck.

Seriously though, I don't know that machinima will dramatically change the film game, but I do think it is an exciting new genre that's worth paying attention to. It's certainly intriguing and sounds like a great way to practice filmmaking and try out different shots and action sequences without all the real-life expense and hassle. No doubt some of tomorrow's great directors will have played out their entire masterworks on computer before a single frame is even committed to camera.

Please post a comment if you are down with machinima and let people know about your experience or other machinima filmmaking resources out there. Most interesting development... stay tuned.


In case you don't click on the comments below, here's some additional resources from Booklad and Tom Jantol both of Premiere Machinima:

More info:

Machinima Premiere

Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences

Wikipedia entry on Machinima

And a few favorite films:

The French Democracy


Only the Strong Survive