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Cell phone release: Sally Potter's RAGE

by rania
September 22, 2009 2:00 AM
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09-21-09: Jude Law in Rage via iPhone held by writer/director Sally Potter

"I can’t think of a worse way to watch a movie than on a cell phone," commented a reader on a "Thompson on Hollywood" blog post announcing Rage.

But here's the thing-- this film was made to be watched on a phone. Maybe it should have been called a series of webisodes. Of course, that might have scared people from buying the DVD. If you watch the DVD, as I did, you will see that its natural home is the hand-held device, seen in daily sections over the course of a week, as the story progresses during Fashion Week. Internet viewing is another option.

Potter wrote the dramatic thriller as a conventional script ten years ago, and only after having her own blog and website did she "unlock the form for the film," using close-ups exclusively because, she told me, "the close-up is the language of MySpace and Facebook."

"This isn't about shoving a movie into a cell phone," she said. "Everything in this film could have been made by a child with a cell phone in their bedroom."

"I needed to make it very graphic, very pure, very simple...with no cutaways, no locations, no sets, and a green screen. The dynamic had to be in the performances," she said. She cast Jude Law, Judi Dench, Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo, Lily Cole and others to play recurring characters in brief shots, reminiscent of screen tests.

The eye-popping background colors were copied digitally from somewhere on the actor's face, body, or clothing.

Filmmakers and adventurous audiences should see this beautifully crafted and acted humorous film, as it presents a new direction for entertainment.

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  • rania | July 11, 2010 3:06 AMReply

    Kurt, thank-you for your far-reaching perspective!

  • Kurt Brokaw | July 10, 2010 1:59 AMReply

    At an advertising seminar at The New School (NYC) last October sponsored by
    Center for Communcations (CenCom), five advertising veterans were asked
    what advice they'd give to networks in creating new programming. I suggested
    basing a new dramatic series entirely on closeups that could be viewed primarily
    though not exclusively on cells. I based my suggestion on comments by dozens
    of young filmmakers at Tribeca Film Festival from around the world, all of whom
    confirmed that scores of young filmmakers (depending on Broadband penetration
    in their country of origin) were shooting for eventual cell distribution...and also a comment by Robert Greenberg of RG/A Advertising who noted that famillies in Japan are now viewing entire programs as well as feature films entirely on cell devices. And here's Sally Potter, always ahead of the curve (by years, even
    decades), beating the networks and everyone else to the punch. The retrospec-
    tive at MoMA in NYC currently confirms her brilliance as both a director and
    pioneer of new media and new media formats. --Kurt Brokaw, Associate
    Teaching Professor, The New School

  • rania | September 23, 2009 12:38 PMReply

    Yes, it was specifically created for the phone, with one short section to watch each day of the week.

  • jl | September 23, 2009 11:18 AMReply

    is this really watchable on a small screen?