One story, two guys and two iPhones embarked on a road trip to make a feature film. Directors Patrick R. Young and Powell Robinson are my guests in Episode 95 of the SBP Podcast Mobile Filmmaking.
Their experience comes from Patrick’s idea for a film when he was in Middle School or High School. Years later, he and Powell decide to use iPhones to realize his story into a feature film of about 77 minutes. They both live in the Los Angeles area in California.
Powell was involved with a musical band and his career plans were focused on his band until the band split. At that point he turned to filmmaking. Powell and Patrick have shot a previous film together, not with smartphones: “Bastard” (2015). Patrick wrote the screenplay for that film. He also wrote screenplays to other films, two which are on Netflix, “My Obsession” and “Pretty Little Stalker.”
Patrick and Powell teamed up as directors for “Threshold,” though they had not really thought about making a movie with iPhones. Inspired by Steven Soderbergh’s “Unsane,” a feature film shot with the iPhone, Powell jokingly suggested to Patrick that they should make their film with their iPhones.
“Threshold” was shot over 12 days from a 23 page outline and no script. There were two actors, one producer, two cars and two directors: Patrick R. Young and Powell Robinson. The protagonists are Madison Gill “Madison West” as Virginia, and Joey Millin as Leo.
When you listen to their stories in this episode you will realize the way this film was made was a challenge and they will share just how they were able to complete the process all the way through to a finished product.
Patrick and Powell captured the audio for their film externally and included ADR to polish up the dialogue, a good investment.
Color grading was also a worthy investment. They pointed out that their editor, Will Ford-Conway, was impressed that their footage came into the editing software just as any other footage shot with a traditional camera.
They used iPhones a generation behind in 2018, the iPhone 8S. Written by Patrick R. Young with Powell Robinson as Director of Photography.
“There is a look to phones…there is a vibe and there is a certain vibe to an Arri Alexa and a Red and just understanding what that means to the people watching—and not necessarily crafting your story around it but crafting your visual language to not seem like it’s clashing with what the iPhone itself can make.” Powell Robinson
The conversation shares the nuts and bolts of making a film indie style. Patrick and Powell are both experienced indie filmmakers and it’s not like they had no filmmaking experience before they challenged their production using iPhones. However, they had not used smartphone cameras before to make a film.
Our podcast guests, Patrick and Powell share tips and advice on what you should invest in when you are saving money making a film using a smartphone, like good audio.
Mentioned in the podcast and crew are William “Will” Ford-Conway, Editor; Nick Chuba, composer; Kinan Chabani, Colorist; Charles Moody, Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer; Jerry Robinson, Dialogue Mixer; Lauren Bates, Producer; Nadine Sondej-Robinson, Costumes; and Alex Familian, Visual Effects.