Red Earth Hip Hop
Last month, Jason van Genderen’s ‘Red Earth Hip Hop’ was announced as the winner of the Nokia Music Short Film Competition and premiered at the Sundance London Film and Music Festival. This story was originally featured on Nokia.com.
Two weeks ago, we showcased one of the most amazing short movies ever made on a smartphone. Jason van Genderen’s Red Earth Hip Hop, the winner of the Nokia Music Short Film Competition was filmed entirely on a Nokia Lumia 920. The film premiered at the Sundance London Film and Music Festival to critical acclaim, and it showed how hip-hop is helping Australia’s aboriginal people deal with an ever-changing world.
To find out more about this remarkable smartphone movie we hooked up with the man behind it. Here’s what he had to say about the film’s making, the Nokia Lumia 920, and the future of smartphone movies.
Hundreds of filmmakers entered the Nokia Music Short Film competition? What was it about the competition that inspired you to have a go?
It seemed like the perfect lure for all budding storytellers, find an undiscovered music genre and make a trailer to showcase the story you’d love to tell… but that was the easy part! This creative challenge seemed like a mini filmic Olympics I just couldn’t resist entering. It seemed fun and inspiring.
Then both Bartosz (the other finalist) and I had the incredible opportunity to shine a light on our ideas—both vastly different stories yet both stories about the unique connections that music makes within our societies, wherever they are in the globe.
Where did you get the inspiration for Red Earth Hip Hop?
My film came about after I heard some indigenous hip hop play on our national radio network (Triple J), and a colleague suggested it was an in-depth music genre waiting to be explored. As soon as I found Melbourne-based hip-hop producer ‘Morganics’, and had some Skype interviews with him about his work in remote Australian communities, I was hooked, I simply had to tell the story of Red Earth Hip Hop.
How did using a Nokia Lumia 920 challenge your filmmaking skills and how did it help develop them?
The technology in the Nokia Lumia 920 is stunning—such incredibly sharp pictures from such a tiny lens. It really was remarkable to see the picture on the cinema screen and (to most audiences) they’d have no idea it came from a smartphone.
The stabilization chassis was amazing too. Ordinarily anything handheld with such a small, light-weight camera produces shakey pictures. With the Nokia Lumia 920 however, it allowed my arms to crane the phone in high and low to a scene and it played back perfectly smooth – really impressive. It genuinely looked like I’d used a tripod or a steadicam to get those shots.
The challenges of using pocket filmmaking technology is you need to make sure you use the equipment for all the things it’s best-suited for—accessibility, unhindered interviews (with normally camera-shy people), and filmmaking that’s not solely dependent on having manual exposure or lens control. We need to think of smartphone cameras like digital Box Brownie cameras, simply but creatively very powerful capture tools.
Your film was showcased at the one of the world’s premier film festivals. How do you see the future of movies made on smartphones evolving?
I’m tremendously excited because I feel it genuinely liberates people to make great stories come alive with quite simple tools. The days of needing a super expensive camera and lots of film school friends are gone. That is to say you can now really make a quality film with tools like the Lumia 920, so long as your story idea is brilliant.
Sure, a little creative know-how helps but in the main, great ideas form the basis of every top film. If you have a special story to tell, and a unique voice to share it with, then smartphones can absolutely be a viable option. We need to think of the tool as a ‘liberation’ device, not a restrictive one.
Cinematic masterpieces like Red Earth Hip Hop have got to be good news for the future of filmmaking. But is it too optimistic to talk about a smartphone movie making a revolution? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.