How was the Apple New Year blockbuster starring Fan Wei filmed? We dug out these behind-the-scenes details with the director

The Year of the Dragon is approaching, and Apple’s annual repertoire is here.

The seventh Apple New Year blockbuster "Little Garlic" shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max was released last night. The main creators are all big names, but this combination is unexpected: "The Amazing Spider-Man" director Mark Webb, "The Long Season" screenwriter Pan Yiran, actor Fan Wei.

Can a multinational team that breaks the dimensional wall successfully film the Spring Festival story? At the premiere at the Sanlitun Apple Store, we met the director and screenwriter and learned more about the creative details behind the scenes.

A youth fantasy New Year movie for the world

It does not take the family route of "Three Minutes", "A Bucket" and "Daughter", unlike "The Comeback" which focuses on local feelings, nor does it follow the example of "A Nian" and "Crossing Five Passes" to explore traditional culture. "Little Garlic" is a fantasy. Youth movie.

This short film was shot in a water town in the south of the Yangtze River, but it explores a universal question: How to be yourself?

"Little Garlic" is named after the nickname of the protagonist Xiao Wei. The "garlic nose" inherited from her grandfather was Xiao Wei's earliest source of anxiety. The beautiful sisters in magazines fascinated her at a young age.

Gradually, there are more and more reasons that make Xiaowei feel that she is not good enough: her braids are not as good-looking as those of other girls, she falls to the ground when she skips a rope, there are no likes and comments on social media, and she is ignored when she calls the waiter. Finding a job is even more difficult…

"I want to become anyone, anyone can do it, but I can't." Xiaowei accidentally discovered her superpower after a blow in her childhood – transforming into other people at any time.

When she was young, her grandfather was around to dissuade her. After leaving home and moving to a big city, Xiaowei used this super power more and more frequently.

Every time Xiaowei transforms, a certain skill seems to light up: beauty, strength, courage, social skills, and even gender can be changed… Whether it is the workplace, the stadium or the disco venue, she blends in with the crowd like a fish in water. .

After transforming so many times, Xiaowei became lost in the "persona" she created, and even forgot who she really was.

It was the Spring Festival, and her grandfather came to visit her and made her a rabbit-shaped bun. He transformed into the child Xiaowei and persuaded the adult Xiaowei that since no matter how she changed, she would never be perfect, it would be better to be herself. It turns out that grandpa also has the super power of transformation.

From the core, "Little Garlic" is a more personal story that is more likely to take place around the world.

This should be related to the "transnational combination" of director Mark Webb and screenwriter Pan Yiran. They started with video conferences across the Pacific Ocean and a time difference of more than ten hours to find commonalities between each other or two groups.

The resonance does exist. They decided from the beginning to make a film about young people. At the same time, they made it clear to add the element of "transformation" and introduced social media as a metaphor for "transformation". Domestic Xiaohongshu and Douyin, as well as foreign Instagram and TikTok, have a similar impact on young people – people become more perfect, but also more lonely.

In addition to the common theme of reunion, the creative team also wants to explore identity, social media, and the emotional connection between people. Whether in China, the United States, or Europe, these topics always resonate. The Spring Festival does not always have to be associated with homesickness and reunion. It can also be a time for a person to rest and restart.

The routine of transformation is actually not new. Michelle Yeoh in "The Universe" worked as a chef, turned into stone, became a movie star, and did not elope with her husband in different universes, giving a glimpse of different possibilities in life. In any parallel universe, her daughter seems to be more rebellious. , a small laundry owner with a cowardly husband, an old father, and bad taxes, but he finally reconciled himself and returned to reality.

Of course, the story line of "Little Garlic" cannot be so full. It is more like the youth version of "The Transient Universe" that "forces to express sorrow in order to compose new words". When frustrated, it unfolds the imagination of the "IF line" of life, but once it is determined, Without herself, the world is not as bad as she imagined.

When I saw the "original" Xiaowei at the end of the film, she could also play basketball, dance, interview, and socialize. I felt a little confused, so I asked the screenwriter Pan Yiran: What does transformation mean? Does the appearance and ability change, or just The appearance has changed, but the ability is still there?

Pan still answered that these abilities actually exist, but Xiaowei is shy to show them, or is ignored by others when she tries, but she often has more courage when she is pretending to be someone else.

The topic of "being yourself" has been discussed too much. But what exactly is it to be yourself?

Through Xiaowei's transformation, the answer given in the short film is that you are yourself without doing anything deliberately, just like dough is dough, but if you give the dough time, it can slowly wake up and become what you want.

The Frog Pond Band's "River" was chosen as the theme song of the short film, which also fits Xiaowei's mental state very well. Several young people active in Dongguan sang about the entanglements and hardships of themselves and their peers. For young people who have just entered society, challenges, obstacles, pain and growth occur at the same time, but as the lyrics say: " I will not refuse to step into this river".

Make shooting more silky and elegant

After the main film, it’s time to turn on the behind-the-scenes footage to see how the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s imaging capabilities are highlighted.

The features of iPhone 15 Pro Max that directors, photographers, and art directors are raving about basically revolve around one central idea: saving trouble, time, and effort.

The anti-shake sports mode allows stable tracking even when running with the phone. The photographer can follow the running of the subject, truly creating an immersive audio-visual experience for the audience.

This scene impressed Mark Webb, who was running around with his mobile phone. In the past, shooting required the use of slide rails, or a professional photographer to stabilize the equipment. Now it is more efficient to use an iPhone, and the shooting process is "silky and elegant."

The iPhone is responsible for the silkiness, and the little actor is responsible for the elegance, but Mark Webb feels that he needs to practice more.

The 5x optical zoom is a commonly used function by photographers. It can quickly zoom in or out between the 1x and 5x focal lengths, which can not only capture the scene on the other side of the river, but also achieve close-ups of the Bund.

Although Mark Webb believes that using a long lens with a focal length of 135 mm will be more accurate when the subject is far away, he restrained his desire to judge. The iPhone is portable and can quickly switch between multiple focal lengths. Very good.

Movie effect mode appears frequently in short films. It can automatically or manually switch the focus of the picture and use a shallow depth of field to highlight the protagonist. It is similar to the portrait mode of taking pictures and guides the audience to focus on the correct character.

With the film effect, when the emotional flow between the characters is captured, the atmosphere is in place, and the sense of the story is almost the same.

There is another aspect of the iPhone 15 Pro Max that Mark Webb appreciates: its performance in low-light environments.

During the filming process, the team did not use a lot of lighting assistance. The scene in the closet mainly relied on natural light. The nightclub is also an environment that is close to reality rather than deliberately arranged, using weak red light to create an ambiguous atmosphere.

In addition, the iPhone 15 series has switched from Lightning to USB-C port, allowing the iPhone to be directly connected to monitors, hard drives, microphones and other devices on the set. This does not directly affect the shooting quality, but improves the happiness index at work.

Of course, the most curious thing is how Xiaowei's transformation was achieved?

Including the real Xiao Wei, a total of 19 Xiao Wei appeared in the film. Among them, "Blogger Wei" was guest-starred by Pan Tianhong from We Media Film and Television Hurricane.

Mark Webb told us that only one special effect was used in the entire film, where they made a gradient processing of the silhouette when Benny came out of the dark alley and flipped her hair.

Otherwise, the transformation effect is achieved using physics instead of special effects.

The concept of transformation is not difficult to think of, but actually shooting it is another matter. The camera movement must be fast enough to avoid errors.

One of the more difficult scenes is when grandpa is sitting at the table, and Xiaowei is walking around in childhood, changing her image when passing behind grandpa. Once her hair is worn out, or her steps are not in place, she has to start all over again.

The day before the shooting, the team set up all the iPhones and all the actors rehearsed how to move quickly in a small space. They couldn’t go empty-handed and everyone had to eat something. Mark Webb said it was like designing a set.

Other transformation scenes have a similar idea. If you can use perspective, use perspective. If you can rely on occlusion, rely on occlusion. If you can solve it in the early stage, it will definitely not be difficult in the later stage. Rehearse when you should rehearse, and NG when you should.

In the last scene, when Bendiwei changes back to herself, the camera needs to follow the movement of the arm exactly, and it was shot about 22 times.

Using physical means rather than special effects to achieve transformation is actually one of Marc Webb's creeds – everyone can participate in image creation, and everyone can reproduce similar effects.

After watching the behind-the-scenes footage, my colleague Editor Xie couldn't help but reminisce about those glorious years.

When he graduated, he used stabilizers, had multiple camera positions, and had to choose the microphone. Looking at the results now, he can only say that they are unsatisfactory. If the mobile phones at that time had the current telephoto and stable anti-shake, things would be much simpler.

Putting the expression of movies into mobile phones makes shooting easier, eliminating more unnecessary equipment, and the final effect is better. This is the meaning of the iPhone's improved imaging capabilities.

Movies should be fun

The filming of "Little Garlic" only took 7 days, but when you see the production team at the end of the film, you will still be frightened by the Zhou Xun emoticon: There are so many people!

This is not difficult to understand. Although the pictures are indeed all taken by the iPhone's camera and there are no external lenses, playing with the iPhone and processing materials still requires "support", including but not limited to drones, external hard drives, slide rails, stabilizers, etc. Auxiliary equipment.

We don’t have that much manpower or equipment, so we should learn from Mark Webb’s attitude: “When shooting with iPhone, I hope it can be fun. The movie itself should be fun. You can try different ways of using the camera to give People have different feelings.”

The compactness and flexibility of the iPhone means it can provide a variety of tricky shooting angles and even enrich the lens language.

The team originally felt that the closet space was too small, but the iPhone did not let them down. The actors in the closet could use their phones to record Teacher Fan Wei's superb acting skills.

There are no stabilizers and slide rails, so we can always afford brackets and tape. The team also uses various cheap materials to tie iPhones to basketballs, childhood Xiaowei and other people and objects to capture more immersive first-person views. .

These dynamic shots and scenes switch quickly, creating a sense of rhythm and visual impact, achieving a montage effect, and the director himself is very satisfied.

The director was even a little addicted to shooting. In his own words: "You can throw the camera around." He regretted not being able to shoot for two more days, but this is not Apple's problem.

Every time Apple releases a New Year blockbuster, it is not only a time for the iPhone to show off its muscles and skills, but also a time for us to take a film master class.

The quality of the picture is important, as is the creativeness of the shooting. It cannot be compared with the top players on the same track, with complete equipment and manpower. It is also good to gain skills and inspiration from them.

Mark Webb believes that film creation does not belong to a minority, but objectively speaking, iPhone and traditional film equipment are different tools. It cannot replace the latter, but is a simple and easy-to-use supplement. His previous films In fact, iPhone has been used in this film, but the audience may not know it.

At the same time, he also observed an interesting phenomenon: iPhone makes people feel close to each other. When shooting young actors, if a large device is used to shoot the face, it will actually be unnatural.

For most people, the meaning of the existence of mobile phones is to take pictures anytime and anywhere when they are inspired, and to observe the world more broadly or more closely.

While sitting on the flight to Beijing, Mark Webb took pictures of the scenery along the way and planned to share it with his daughter when he went back.

My favorite line in "Little Garlic" is said by Fan Wei: Take your time, we have plenty of time.

Let’s start with kneading the dough, and then talk about whether the dough can be made into a rabbit. This sentence is also very suitable for everyone who wants to use a mobile phone to record life. The meaning of Shot on iPhone is when we start with the device we already have and realize creativity and fun.

It is as sharp as autumn frost and can ward off evil disasters. Work email: [email protected]

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