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Apple's canny decision to hand their tech over to filmmakers to create bespoke shorts has resulted in some genuinely gorgeous content, from David Leitch's kinetic Snowbrawl to Theodore Melfi's heartfelt Daughter.

However, none have been as enjoyably self-knowing in their cinematic standings as Frenzy Paris director Frank Ychou's latest - an ode to the pigment properties of an errant sock, La Chaussette.

Filled with filmic techniques you wouldn't normally associate with a handheld device, Ychou's film delivers on both charm and impressive tech-demo posturing, achieving a distinctive look and feel in it's deliberately short runtime.

We grabbed Ychou and EP Cédric Barus to find out how they achieved so much on such ubiquitous pocket gadgetry.

Apple – La Chaussette

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Was La Chaussette a film you had in your mind already, or was it written to fill the brief?

Cédric Barus, Executive Producer: The idea was written by the creatives, but from there it’s a real collaboration to make it the best short film possible

Frank Ychou, Director: The agency really opened the door so I could make it mine at the writing stage

The film has a vibrant design and fantastic use of colours. Was this a stipulation of Apple's or something you had in mind early on?

FY: Thank you :) Of course, it was part of the deal to push the iPhone as far as it can go and prove that it is capable of delivering great colour results. 

The decorum of the laundromat actually imposed a rather simple light coming from the ceiling (like in real laundries), so we chose to bring some contrast to the image through colour.

What I liked was that for this movie in particular, the decorum of the laundromat actually imposed a rather simple light coming from the ceiling (like in real laundries), so we chose to bring some contrast to the image through colour. 

The artistic nature of the project was completely in line with the desire to highlight the iPhone's good colour management.

What sort of experiments did you have with the iPhone before committing to decisions? Were you familiar to shooting on it beforehand?

FY: We tested the phone under the same conditions as we test professional cameras. We also got feedback from the agency and the brand. 

I had never used an iPhone to shoot something for broadcast before, but I use it quite often to film my daughter and my cat.

I had never used an iPhone to shoot something for broadcast before, but I use it quite often to film my daughter and my cat :)

The film utilises lots of filmic techniques - contrazoom, racking focus - that you wouldn't expect from a phone. Were these techniques that you were asked to add or did it come from experimentation?

FY: Yes I was asked to use these different techniques but it was not a constraint for me because these are things I was already doing before.

What was the most memorable moment of the shoot?

FY: The first shot of the film was shot with a studio flat sheet that we brought out on the street. 

It was the very first shot of the film and it was raining like cats and dogs. 

It was an epic start, but we had a lot of fun.

What is your favourite moment in the film?

FY: Same answer, the introduction shot when you leave the window to enter the laundromat. 

In addition to the DIY side of the studio flat posted outdoor, there's a more convoluted detail that I really like: we made the size of the window so it matches the proportions of an iPhone screen, it creates a « wink » and a nice « mise en abîme » 

What was the toughest thing about shooting this on a phone?

FY: You have to adapt to the technical specifics of a camera you can hold in your pocket, like the highlights/lowlights range.  

You have to adapt to the technical specifics of a camera you can hold in your pocket, like the highlights/lowlights range.  

We took it in consideration from an early stage so it did not represent much of a constraint during prep and shooting.

What aspects of it were easier?

FY: You have the camera with you on a daily basis, you can choose the final frames while you're just scouting. 

On location you can easily place the camera in hard-to-reach areas such as the inside of the washing machine drum, for example.

What would you like viewers to take away from the film?

FY: I don't really know how to respond to that, except maybe to say that no matter how you do it, it's always possible to tell a story.

The core idea of the campaign is to encourage everyone who’s interested in filming to get creative and have fun, through a fresh simple story and specific examples of techniques they can easily try at home.

CB: The core idea of the campaign is to encourage everyone who’s interested in filming to get creative and have fun, through a fresh simple story and specific examples of techniques they can easily try at home.

How are you doing? What do you have lined up at the moment?

CB: We’re fine thanks. The pandemic and lockdowns hit at the start of the post-production, so we had to finish the film remotely but we’re happy it was released almost as planned. 

Frank just joined Frenzy’s roster for representation so we’re thrilled .

FY: It’s really a great start for me in the advertising world! 

Everything is going very well despite the tough period we have just lived through. I’m also quite excited to be casting for my first feature film and I'm continuing to develop other scripts for the future.

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