Film and TV

The First Feature Filmed Entirely on an iPad

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Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM

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Aaron Mento's career needed a kick-start. Working a 9-to-5 job after graduating Loyola Marymount University's graduate film production program in 2008, Mento had plenty of scripts he'd written, but unfortunately also had plenty of excuses for not making the leap into production. That is, until he went blind in his left eye for 15 minutes.

That health scare -- which turned out to be an ocular migraine -- launched him into a production cycle that resulted in Standards of Living, a film shot not on high-definition cameras, but on an iPad 2.

click to enlarge OCULAR MIGRAINE FILMS
  • Ocular Migraine Films
Ocular Migraine Films

Standards, according to Mento, is a horror/comedy "about this stand-up comedian who's really bad" who gets a mysterious phone call from a man named Mr. Randall, who says he can make things disappear and have them brought back, improved.

Standards is the first full-length feature film shot entirely on a tablet, which presented its share of challenges to Mento and his crew. But Mento says that the style worked well for this particular story, which was written specifically for filming on his iPad 2, since his previous works wouldn't fit on a microbudget and into a limited-location shoot.

"The iPad 2 has this really wide lens, so it really adds this warped atmosphere to a horror/comedy," he says. "And because I was in two locations that were kind of tight and cramped, the wide angle made it feel claustrophobic. And I really liked that ... it gave it an odd, eerie quality."

Still, Mento says, the format presented its difficulties, largely because it was not designed to be used for filming. "The iPad 2 has auto-exposure," he added. "So if an actor moved from one end of the room to the other and I followed them, the camera would darken or lighten based on the light. So I had to kind of even the light out."

Another issue: sound, which doesn't record well on a tablet. Mento had to sync up the sound in post-production, which was tricky.

Standards is the first film under Mento's Ocular Migraine Films banner -- a name that is both a joking reference to the low-definition filming style of a tablet and a reminder of the ailment that finally pushed Mento out of his slump and gave him the drive to make a film, no matter what. According to Mento, while all other Ocular Migraine productions may not be on a tablet, he'd be open to revisiting the medium -- for the right story, of course.

Watch Standards of Living below:

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