TORONTO – Montreal writer/director Christos Sourligas received more than a little attention when his movie Happy Slapping debuted this week at the Montreal World Film Festival.
The Canadian project is the first feature-length movie to be shot entirely using Apple’s iPhone 4.
All five main actors doubled as cinematographers, following one another to capture footage with their HD-quality iPhone camera phones.
“I didn’t watch rushes until a month later. This is one of the first films to be shot by the actors, with no playback and no video assist,” Sourligas explained.
The indie movie portrays five suburban youth capturing video footage of their assaults of unsuspecting victims for uploading to the Internet for celebrity fame.
The ground-breaking Generation Y film, based on an often violent fad that originated in the UK, asks how far young people will go to make a name for themselves.
Sourligas said it took a few days for the actors to get comfortable using iPhone cameras to replace a DOP.
“After a while, it wasn’t a tool, it was part of their bodies,” he said.
The actors were instructed on how to shoot the movie by the original cinematographer on the film, Luc Montpellier, especially when it came to camera angles.
There was lots of run and gun shooting style, with Sourligas and his crew hiding behind walls or dumpsters to avoid getting caught in a shot.
“We’d have headphones on and listen to the action, and go off of what we’re hearing. If we got two or three good takes, he (Montpellier) would synch them and we’d play it back. If we had to adjust the blocking or dialogue, we’d do it in two or three new takes,” the director recalled.
The result is a film that resembles The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity in its reality-style camera footage acquired from hand-held iPhone cameras.
Happy Slapping, from Montreal-based indie producer One Man Band Films, is Sourligas’ second feature after Elephant Shoes, which was released domestically by Alliance Films.