UNLOCKDOWN by Sebastien Liebus

Congratulations to filmmaker Sebastien Liebus on taking home the first (and hopefully only!) “Golden Mask” grand prize at the Corman Quarantine Film Festival!

We reached out to Sebastien to learn more about his film and how he made FiLMiC Pro an integral part of his process.

1) What drew you to the story and compelled you to make UNLOCKDOWN?
At first, I didn’t really have a final script. I just knew that the character was going to have a problem with his machine and that there was going to be a malfunction. So I shot these scenes first. It was only afterward during the first editing that the story took shape and that I knew what I wanted to tell and especially how. But I had a lot of themes in mind, I just didn’t know how to put them into images, I wanted to make a science fiction film a little retrofuturistic. Like an homage to some movies I love like “Twelve Monkeys” by Terry Gilliam and “Delicatessen” and “City of Lost Childen” from Jean-Pierre Jeunet. 

2) What prompted you to make the decision to shoot your film with FiLMiC Pro on a smartphone instead of a traditional camera, and was this your first experience using our app?

The competition stipulated that only smartphones should be used. And I already used FiLMiC Pro but it was mainly for small projects, nothing serious. And I especially like the integrated color grading which allows you to have a “cinematic” rendering. And also because the app supports the anamorphic lens that I use. And there is the possibility of filming in different image formats and speeds (which I did for the “slide” shots in the grass and some other shots).

3) Please describe the experience of shooting your short film with mobile devices and FiLMiC Pro.

The shooting was very complicated. I could only turn two to three hours a day in the basement because of the sunlight. And I had no one to tell me that my frame was good, so I had to check after filming each time. But the image rendering was incredible. I didn’t feel like making a film with a simple phone but with a real camera. And the use of the app is quite simple and it does a very good job and all this with a simple phone. One of my friends who is a filmmaker was almost jealous of the beauty of the shots when I was filming without light, in my basement, with a smartphone. 

4) What did shooting on a smartphone allow you to do that you otherwise might not have been able to?

Do not forget that I was in a very very small space. I could not have a lot of equipment and I could not move a lot so it was ideal for me, to work without being embarrassed. Because sometimes I could install the phone in places where it would have been more complicated with a real camera without removing a wall for example. This makes you freer and therefore more efficient. And then there is the simple and practical aspect, you launch the app and presto, you have the feeling of driving a real camera.

5) Where has your film screened to date (festivals, etc.)?

It has screened and won the Roger Corman Quarantine Film Festival and I’ve submitted to some other festivals. It was an official selection for a Colombian film festival. That was great.  But, this prize I won with Roger Corman is like an Oscar to me. It’s from a person who discovered James Cameron, Jack Nicholson, and so many other talented people. The first time I couldn’t believe it. Because I have seen so many great movies in this festival (my favorite is the movie who came number two, it’s freaking amazing).

6) What is your next project? Where can people find you on the web?

A movie about a ping-pong ball chased by a killer vacuum cleaner. Still shooting on my phone and FiLMiC Pro. I hope to finish it by the end of summer!

Filmmaker Sebastien Liebus