Through the unfiltered perspective of her mobile phone, a young woman weighs what she wants with what is realistic

We’ve all one time or another wished we were a fly on the wall. But have you ever thought of being someone’s mobile phone? Director Scott Lazer takes us directly through that lens, as we candidly watch a woman and her daring relationships unravel. As creepy as that sounds, Scott explores a fascinating path on human behaviours as seen from a 3rd person. We’re delighted to have asked the director a couple of questions:

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

I’d been wanting to do a cell phone POV film for a while. And while it’s not a completely novel concept (you might’ve seen the film Pocket or my friend Paul Trillo‘s film The Life & Death of an iPhone) I thought there was still room to explore this form of storytelling – particularly with pacing and by synthesizing the user interface (UI) and cinematography into the same frame. The idea was to give the audience an immersive feeling that they’re behind the glass of a mobile device as you watch. I worked with screenwriter Juli Blachowiak who wrote the story around this concept and then collaborated with the design studio Burn & Broad and the VFX company Ntropic to execute the UI.

What type of equipment and camera did you use for the film?

We rigged a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera with handles on each side so that our actor, Alyssa Block, could operate the camera like a phone and mime her clicking and swiping gestures, which we then tracked in post. The Blackmagic is very small and lightweight, so Alyssa was able to operate it more or less by herself with cinematographer Taylor McIntosh lightly cradling it to help guide the framing.

As a writer/director are you open to changes or suggestions when you start shooting or do you like to stick to what has been written?

It totally depends on the project. For this, we did stick to the script for the most part, but we left quite a bit of room for the actors to improvise – a lot of which made its way into the film. It felt right to do it this way since we wanted the action to feel very natural.

What has this film taught you about filmmaking?

That there are many different ways to tell a story effectively. While this film is a bit experimental by nature, the technical approach was always in service to the story. It makes me wonder what other directions visual storytelling can go.

What do you hope people will take away from Mango?

I hope everyone immediately throws their phone in the garbage after they’re done watching this 😂