The smartphone camera is the window to your story. As your story unfolds on your screen you are watching your film as you record it. Acting in front of the iPhone camera was a lot like acting in theater on a stage. Blue Moon was shot in one location with a small crew. Mark Hadlow is the lead actor in the film, Horace Jones playing alongside Jed Brophy (Darren Cates) as co-lead. The 85-minute feature film is an incredible performance and a great story that begins in a gas station lit up like a spaceship in the dark night. Episode 59 of the SBP Podcast brings a deep conversation with actor Mark Hadlow.
In this episode we speak about the making of Blue Moon and Mark shares some behind-the-scenes stories, including his real-life daughter Olivia Hadlow who plays Lucille Jones as Horace Jones’ daughter. Mark also shares a story about when he and Jed worked in The Hobbit, cast as Dwarf brothers Dori and Nori. One important part of the message from Mark is how you need to surround yourself with the right people and build a family that supports you.
If you are thinking about making feature films with your smartphone you need to realize it’s not an easy task as a filmmaker. You need to take the focus of your story out of the technology and captivate your viewer closely by the performance. While the technology inspires anyone who has a smartphone to believe anyone can make a movie with a smartphone, it requires some skill in storytelling. But the story is king. And to deliver a good story, the performance has to stand out. Mark shares and emphasizes the work that actors need to put into their careers in order to deliver a good performance.
“You can have the best camera and the best person that believes that they can actually film it because they’re really good at what they do. And they can see the magic of their camera angle and they can see what’s going on to film it. You could have the worst sound recording equipment but yet the person who’s doing the sound recording knows exactly—they’ve got the confidence to put it in the right place at the right time. You’ve still a good sound track, you’ve still got a good picture that you filmed.” Mark Hadlow.
Mark Hadlow has been an actor for many years. His work is spread between Hollywood films and television to theatrical performances. It is no wonder after listening to the lead actor in Blue Moon why the film is doing so well. Not only does the film look and sound amazing, but the story absorbs its audience into a story through to the very end. That is the magic of making feature films with smartphones. You can make features with amazing landscape with cameras that cost almost as much as a house. You can carry your audience through mesmerizing footage in that sense and you can still deliver a good story. But with a smartphone camera, we are still limited by the size and capabilities of the lens. Take away all that footage and you may be left with a short film.
Instead, focus on a great story and a great performance. Having confidence in your actors to develop their characters on screen and bring your audience inside the story to experience it as if they were there, in the middle of it…that is one of the virtues of smartphone filmmaking.
“Mark Hadlow, ONZM, is one of New Zealand's best known actors. He has performed in countless theatre shows throughout New Zealand. Mark has made dozens of film appearances, several television series, commercials and radio voice-overs in the thousands. He has directed many plays throughout New Zealand, some independent productions and for the Court Theatre in Christchurch. Playing the dwarf Dori in The Hobbit Trilogy, was Mark's third Peter Jackson movie. Mark has been nominated for and won several awards,” Mark Hadlow “loves the one man show format and ‘MAMIL’ written by his best mate Gregory Cooper opened