Adi Spektor is an accomplished actor and filmmaker. His short vampire comedy “How to Rob a House” illustrates the sophistication now possible with mobile moviemaking.
The following interview with Spektor covers scripting, lighting, acting, and many other topics that should interest both novices and experienced mobile moviemakers.
MMM: How did you come up with the idea for “How to Rob a House”?
Spektor: I always wanted to do a film featuring vampires, but I wanted the story to have a twist. One day I came up with an idea of two burglars robbing the house of the vampire without having the slightest clue who the owner is and I thought it was a pretty funny concept. I got so excited that I sat down and started writing. After a few hours the first draft was ready. I re-wrote it 11 times and the result is ‘How to Rob a House.”
MMM: Seriously—eleven drafts?
Spektor: Yes. We also had a shotlist and storyboards. I think preparation is very important and it saves time and money when you are on a set.
MMM: The actors do a terrific job. Did you hold an audition to find the right ones?
Spektor: In my opinion, the audition environment does not always reveal the full potential of the actor, so it’s more difficult to find the right person. I will be auditioning actors for my next project, but I prefer working with actors I already know from previous projects, since I know what I can expect from them and it saves me time. When I was writing “How to Rob a House,” I already knew who would be my first choice for the lead roles. To make the story work, I needed actors who could fully commit emotionally to the characters and the situation. I knew Amato D’Apolito and Dave Vescio were great actors and would be able to pull it off. I feel very lucky that I was able to get them to be in my project. Without them, it wouldn’t be the same.
MMM: Did you rehearse separately from shooting?
Spektor: I don’t believe in rehearsing beforehand. I’ve worked as an actor on many different films and nobody would rehearse. It seems like this is the industry standard. Without rehearsing, when the actors react to each other, their interaction is more real and “fresh.”
MMM: The comic dimension of the movie are hilarious.
Spektor: I am glad you liked it. The comedy in film comes from my personality, I always liked to make people laugh. I grew up watching Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Their films are timeless, always funny. Coming to more modern times, I like Edgar Wright. I love the way he combines horror with comedy.
MMM: Props play a big role in your movie.
Spektor: I actually wrote my script mostly around the props I already had, except the wardrobe. For example the gun we used in “How to Rob a House” is the same gun, we bought for “The Russian Roulette”. I do like to keep props from the film I shot as souvenirs. Some of them can come handy.
MMM: The movie is beautifully lit, for example, the effects using the flashlights.
Spektor: We used the fog machine to make the light look better. My director of photography Scott Baker has a lot of experience, and lighting seemed to be effortless to him.
MMM: Can you tell us about the gear or apps used in the production?
Spektor: We used FilmicPro, Smart Phocus gear and lenses, and a Mobislyder [a portable camera slider designed for smartphones and other compact cameras].
MMM: How long did the shooting take?
Spektor: We were shooting for two days and the post production took almost a month.
MMM: Did you encounter any problems?
Spektor: We were so well prepared that we had no real challenges. Just to give you an idea, I had three sets of flashlights in case one of them stopped working. The small ones I actually got in 99 cents store (just like it’s in my script), so I expected them to break at some point. Also I think we were very lucky, because things always could go wrong. It helps to have professional crew knowing their craft.
MMM: Is there a reason you chose to shoot the movie using a mobile rather than a traditional camera?
Spektor: In 2011 I was on a jury of the iPhone Film Festival and I was very impressed with the quality of the films I had an opportunity to watch. I was so inspired that in 2012 I produced “The Russian Roulette” with Conrad Mess. Since then I knew I wanted to make films with an iPhone.
MMM: Do you see a trend?
Spektor: I think most people still don’t appreciate the ability of the smartphone camera. By using such an inexpensive and widely available gadget, I hope to inspire young filmmakers into action. The iPhone is very affordable, portable and easy to operate, Also the quality of the footage is excellent.
MMM:. Can you tell us how you developed your skills as a moviemaker?
Spektor: I started as an actor and I do have an extensive training in this profession. It helps in directing, because I understand where the actors come from so to speak. Then I started producing films as well, but I craved the creative input in the projects and that’s why I wrote “How to Rob a House.”
MMM: What else shaped your skills.
Spektor: I do read books about producing and writing, but mostly I pay attention to the films I watch–noticing things like lighting, camera angles, and acting. I ask myself what I liked about the film, what I didn’t like, and try to understand why. I also like to watch interviews with directors. Recently I watched Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino. There are so many things to learn. The good thing is: today you can find everything on the Internet.
MMM: Do you have any big advice you have for someone just starting out as a mobile moviemaker?
Spektor: Don’t wait, go and shoot a film! And if the first film doesn’t come out the way you want, learn from it and do the next one. In my opinion, you learn best by doing. Also stay away from negative people, stick with people like-minded who believe it you. There are always people who say that you can’t do it. I still meet people, who are very skeptical when I tell them that I make films with my iPhone.
MMM: Can you give us a hint about your next production?
Spektor: All I can tell you for now is that my next film will be shot in a BDSM Dungeon and there will be a supernatural element in it. I hope it piques your interest.
MMM: How can people learn more about your work?
Twitter @adispektor, Instagram: @adispektorofficial. Also you can find me on YouTube.
MMM: Anything else you’d like to share?
Spektor: It seems to me that mobile filmmaking is becoming more and more popular. The quality of the camera gets better and better, and films like: “Tangerine” and “Departure” prove that the sky is the limit. I hope in the near future there will be more projects like that.