Bengaluru-based Seby Varghese, the film's director, is an auditor with a passion for filmmaking who was inspired to shoot his debut on the iPhone.

How a novice filmmaker from Bluru was inspired to shoot a movie entirely on an iPhone
Flix Indie Film Sunday, June 10, 2018 - 17:56

Award-winning director Steven Andrew Soderbergh, known for films like Erin Brockovich and the Oceans Trilogy, shot Unsane, a psychological thriller starring Claire Foy, entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus. The film released in March of this year and is available to stream online for free. Three years ago, Sean Baker shot the film Tangerine entirely on iPhone 5s, which went on to win several accolades. Progressive filming has reached a point where nothing can deter the storyteller, as long as there’s a narrative.

It is precisely this notion which encouraged Seby Varghese to pick up the camera, or in his case an iPhone 7 Plus, to begin shooting what would be India’s first road trip film shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus phone.

Titled Unfateful, the film’s cast and crew is entirely made up of novices who’ve got little or no experience in the field. Seby himself is in fact an auditor with a passion for filmmaking. “I’m not completely devoid of experience. I’ve made low-budget corporate films and I did a one-month internship with Nirvana films to perfect the craft,” says the Bengaluru-based director.

A trip to Gokarna with friends inspired him to shoot a road trip film and the iPhone came in purely by chance. “It is half the price of a DSLR and when my friend Karthik got an iPhone 7s we decided to use the phone for filming,” he says, “I also found the car I wanted to use by chance at a friend’s house. It all fell into place.”

Seby then plunged into two months of research and in April 2017 applied for a nine-month sabbatical from work. While his entire crew is based out of Chennai, his cast comprises of actors from Chennai and Bengaluru. Covering over 15,000 kilometers, the film has been shot across the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

Unfateful revolves around four strangers who end up carpooling together on a journey. Following a script-less approach, Seby says that works by directors like Ridley Scott, Satyajit Ray and Sean Baker inspired him to work on the movie. “Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Ozhivudivasathe Kali is one of the most important Indian films and also my main inspiration. Film’s like Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi and Christopher Nolan’s Following made me wonder how they were able to pull of such brilliant films with a very little budget,” says Seby.

While making a film is no easy task, coming from a completely different background also has its own advantages says Seby, “Having no knowledge in the field gives you a unique perspective. I know no boundaries and everything is an experiment.”

The team has spent a little over 25 days shooting, which was split into three schedules. With its production completed, Seby is now looking to raise funds to work on post-production of the movie. “The film comes to life in the editing and we need ten lakhs to complete it. So far we’ve shelled out 15 lakhs for the film’s production,” says Seby adding, “This kind of experimental filming may not have been possible 20 years ago but things have progressed for the better, so much now, it's very encouraging.”

The film’s crew is made up of Ajay Siva, Karthick Raj, Anmi Elizabeth, Aakash Poojith and Jophina Joseph while its cast comprises of Sharath Prakash, Janavi Nagarajan, Aakash Mohanty from Mumbai, Bharat Simha, Sanjith Ballal, and Darshan Shankar.

Seby has started an online crowdfunding campaign to complete the rest of his film and those wishing to contribute can do so here.

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