The whole village is waiting for you to come back and make a movie for the village.
I can't shoot, I'm just a stand-in.
I told them that you are the director.
In a northwestern village swept by sandstorms all the year round, a young man whose occupation is a stand-in for martial arts, a group of enthusiastic villagers, and a donkey whose acting skills need to be improved, how can they make a serious sci-fi movie on Mars?
Apple's 2022 Chinese New Year short film "The Comeback" directed by "Steel Piano" director Zhang Meng is such a local sci-fi comedy.
Similar to The Piano of Steel, it focuses on the fringe areas where visual images are rarely seen.
"The big director is back! Little band, hurry up! Get it sorted! Get it all sorted!"
The male protagonist Xiaoshu was disappointed when he returned to his hometown for Chinese New Year.
Maybe he has always dreamed of being a director, but in reality, he is a stand-in for fighting dramas. He was chased, besieged, and hung by Weiya.
Accidentally broke his arm during the fight, the well-dressed villain stood on the tram to maintain a winning attitude, and the group performers on the side just watched quietly and did not step forward.
After taking the train and changing the bus, and returning to his hometown, which was in ruins, Xiaoshu became the "big director" in his father's mouth, and received the warm welcome from the "little band", as if returning home.
The village is indeed small enough that every villager knows he is the "big director".
But you say I'm the director, right? Xiaoshu himself didn't think so.
If you shoot a movie and post it on the Internet, many people will see it, and many people will come to take pictures, then the village will be lively, and the village may be preserved.
You mean, make our village an internet celebrity attraction? What's there to shoot here? There are only you, the old, the weak, the sick and the disabled in the village, with nothing but sand and dust, as desolate as a spark!
The father figured out a way out of his son's complaints. Isn't this just a Martian story?
He even wanted to add a bit of fantasy to the story. In addition to repairing the Martian base that was hit by the storm, he had to find the legendary "Mars Beast", a highlight character that fell on the head of the donkey.
The villagers were enthusiastic about the theme of the filming, the small band beat the gongs and drums, and the two big geese strolled in the courtyard, and the bleating of the sheep floated from a distance.
After all, the father and the villagers were not professionals. At the beginning of the filming, various problems occurred, and the astronauts were also "honorably injured."
The awkward Xiaoshu watched everything, wanted to get started but didn't want to say it directly, so he had to pretend to be angry: "Making a movie is not something you can do with your brain!"
The villagers don't have the skills to make movies, but they are enthusiastic enough, and they don't have the same preoccupation as Xiaoshu. Why can't it be? You must know how to shoot with experience!
This time, Xiaoshu, who was half-pushed, picked up his iPhone, and was called a "big director" within a few days. He became a real director and started directing his first movie.
The grass stage troupe refers to a small troupe that performs mobile performances in the countryside or small towns.
There is really a dilapidated stage in the village, and the villagers have really become a grass stage team for the movie.
The first pure amateur team used firewood to burn out the smoke, sewed space suits with sacks, and put a lampshade on their head as a helmet. The photography rail car is replaced by a tricycle. If you want to create a sense of weightlessness, you can only hang it on a pole and lift it manually.
With Xiaoshu joining in, everyone is more united and cooperative, welding, tailoring, popping popcorn, all kinds of skills come in handy.
Hidden in the dusty village school classroom are vintage props, semiconductor radios, first-generation cell phones, TVs, wires, old toys, and even an early 1980s Macintosh.
They drew a grand blueprint on the blackboard that opened their minds, and even considered how many horns the Martian beast had.
This is very similar to the steel workers in "The Piano of Steel" discussing how to modify the chimney so that it can stay, rockets, greenery, bungee jumping platforms… Anything is good, just leave it. And in this movie, everything is good, as long as it's done decently.
▲"The Piano of Steel". Picture from: Douban
The astronaut's equipment has been "upgraded", carrying a pesticide box, a radio, a BP machine, a big brother on his body, a siren and a flashlight welded on his helmet, and a "rocket" in the shape of a big chimney. thing.
There is also a decent Mars base. There are mannequins in the freezer, the tractor is used as a Mars rover, the old piano is transformed into a light-emitting console, the earth pretending to be a globe is passing through the porthole, and the access control of the base is pressing the clear button and shouting "Zero". ” calculator, reflecting a unique “nostalgic sci-fi” style.
Big scenes can also be solved with small props. The surface of Mars was actually shot with an iPhone close to a pot.
"It is good for people to gather together, and the number of people is great." The three teachings and nine Liuliu in "Steel's Piano" returned to their old business to make pianos, and it was also such a proud feeling.
Halfway through the filming, everyone listened to the band's performance, ate and drank, and the father, who didn't take off his space suit, taught the donkeys who ran into the studio in front of the stage:
Such a good role for you, you have to cherish it! It's Xiaoshu's first time as a director. It's not easy to make a movie. You have to support and cooperate. You can do whatever you want, don't make trouble! If you mess around again, I'll change mules.
In fact, this is also the collective panic of the grass stage team.
Like a donkey without wings, they have never been to Mars, and the male protagonist Xiaoshu has never been a director.
There is also Xiaoshu's sentence "Dad, I'm afraid that I won't shoot well".
And his father replied: "It's good to get together, and it's good to have fun."
The blackboard planning the Mars base originally contained Qu Yuan's "Heavenly Questions"; the inspirational slogan above the blackboard read "Unity and enterprising, breakthrough and innovation"; on the wall of the classroom is a Mars-themed painting.
It seems that making a Martian movie is not just because the place is desolate like Mars, it seems to be destined for something, in fact, all the hardware and software have been prepared, and everyone is required to work together to make this thing happen.
Mars is no longer that elusive place eighty light-years from Earth.
What a good grass team.
spark of fire
The meaning of Mars is very clear in the movie, that is, the sentence my father said:
In this village, there is nothing else but such a group of enthusiastic people. The ground breaking in the eyes of others is the spark in our hearts.
Mars is not only a desolate planet, but also a "spark of fire" that will be extinguished and can also start a prairie fire.
Xiaoshu returned to the village this year, in fact, to leave completely. His compensation and savings are enough to allow him and his father to live in the city, while his mother is always absent from the film.
Although his life in the city was not so good, the barrenness of his hometown and the frustration of his work made him hate this place where he grew up.
And my father is still full of affection for the village. He hopes that the village can be preserved for a long time. People outside often come back to see it. The original intention of making movies is also the same.
The conflict between Xiaoshu and his father was resolved with the filming of the film.
At first, he thought that making a movie was a bad idea. As the director, he hoped that his father would go with him after filming. In the end, he was completely moved by his father and the villagers, and he stopped talking about getting rid of his hometown.
The sand blows every year, and more and more people go out. The people who stay are as enthusiastic as ever, and the collective sense of honor has never changed.
In the abandoned classroom, the magnificent and full trombone can still be played; when drinking and eating, the accordion and saxophone are always echoing in my ears.
This reminds me of "The Piano of Steel" Chen Guilin plays the piano on a snowy night.
▲"The Piano of Steel". Picture from: Douban
Zhang Meng is very good at recording the joys and sorrows of little people. They have optimism based on mediocrity and ups and downs, and a romantic temperament that is blown away by strong winds.
Even if the village declines day by day, it will never become a place for Internet celebrities to check in, but it is not necessary to use "futile" to define this shooting.
The author of The Golden Rose said:
I would never give up romance—its purifying fire, its passion for humanity and generosity of heart, its never-quiet state.
One spark lit another spark, and they glowed like fire, illuminating cold nights and barren lands, igniting all the passionate life here and now.
"The sandstorm is here, the sandstorm is here!"
During the shooting, a sandstorm suddenly hit, as if the inevitable fate of the village.
It is also ironic that all the props about Mars have to be designed and modified, only the geographical environment similar to Mars does not need to be modified.
After the sandstorm passed, the cell phone buried in the soil could still be used; the donkey who played the Martian beast also stood there well, but the whitened skin returned to the color of the earth.
As long as the phone is there, the film can continue to be shot; as long as the donkey is there, just dress up as a Martian beast.
Dad asked Xiaoshu, "Son, our movie doesn't have a name yet."
Xiaoshu put on a stance: "Then… it's called a comeback. Start!"
The story of "The Comeback" ends with a "beginning".
Like "The Piano of Steel", Zhang Meng is both a director and a screenwriter. He used the iPhone 13 Pro to shoot this "film made with iPhone".
Zhang Meng once said that "The Piano of Steel" is "a story about a lost class under the shell of family love". Comeback has something in common with it, but in the context of the New Year it appears more family-friendly, without delving into the natural or human factors behind the hollowing out of the countryside.
The reality is of course not so rosy filters. The villagers regard the "big director" Xiaoshu as the hope of the whole village, in order to preserve the village; but Xiaoshu himself is also a mud bodhisattva crossing the river, and the status quo is not satisfactory.
Maybe Xiaoshu has also encountered a state of mind as Didier Elipon said in "Returning Home":
For many years, it was just a place name for me… This place I tried to escape from, a social space that I had deliberately alienated from, a spiritual space that served as a negative teaching material when I was growing up, and no matter how much I resisted, The hometown that still forms the core of my spirit.
This is a young man, facing the struggle for survival and the anger in the face of fate.
But similar to the attitude of making a movie, the villagers who have been rooted in this place for their entire lives don’t think so much.
Whether it is "The Piano of Steel" in the old industrial base of the Northeast, or "The Comeback" in the rural areas of the Northwest, these groups have outstanding creativity, which may come from family affection and acquaintance society, or from professional ethics and the spirit of the times, secretly sown in the The heart of every ordinary person.
When the collective creativity takes root, such a simple emotional yet imaginative film is produced. They are not lonely trekkers in the face of the torrent of life, their hands are clasped together.
▲"The Piano of Steel". Picture from: Douban
Even if you want to leave after all, you must use the objects to leave memories with images, and wrap the pain with a light sugar coating.
Maybe a certain young man who saw this movie is Xiaoshu from another village, who is also filming his own story. As Zhang Meng said:
Take out the mobile phone from your pocket, no matter whether it is low-light or movie effect mode, it will give young directors some initial imaginations, which is a good thing for every young person who has a director's dream.
The atmosphere of Mars is particularly thin, so the sound heard on Mars is extremely weak, as the village of Xiaoshu has been quiet for so many years. But those loud noises that should be there are being released silently in the universe.
The editor-in-chief has something to say <br /> According to the routine of our previous articles, in the face of this "Return" filmed by Zhang Meng with the iPhone 13 Pro, we will first describe its plot, and then analyze which part uses which features of the iPhone.
For example, the depth of field effect achieved by the movie mode when changing the focus; when the macro mode shoots the bottom of a pot, the bottom of the pot becomes a spark; the excellent night scene video mode of the iPhone 13 Pro makes the night in the northwest region more vast and lonely; anti-shake The mode makes the action scenes incredibly smooth, too.
But for this "movie filmed with an iPhone shot with an iPhone", in essence, it should be treated as a movie, not a video shot with an iPhone, so this article is more like a movie review, rather than analysis.
When the author Zhang Chengchen was interviewing for Ai Faner, there was a film review about "The Piano of Steel" among the text works submitted, so it was very suitable for her to write this film that also tells the story of local feelings, father-son family affection and creativity. If the story is interesting and moving, and the imagery is imaginative and intense, then the same goes for the story of the iPhone helping creativity.
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