News, , , , , , , , , , — August 31, 2011 14:34 — 2 Comments

Smart moviemaker profile: the camera-shy Film Artist

The Film Artist

The Film Artist prefers to remain incognito.

When I request an interview for he replies: “I have to admit I like to keep a low profile and I’m a little camera-shy. Can I remain anonymous and be referred to as TFA without any pics?”

TFA it is, and in this respect he is similar to graffiti artist Banksy; no one knows he has been in the neighbourhood until his latest work of art has been unveiled. TFA, of course, roams the streets with his iPhone 4, recording everyday scenes, usually at night before editing and splicing his footage together and adding a Bangra soundtrack.

Although he has been making films for several years, first with a VHS recorder, then a digital camera and more recently the iPhone, TFA first came to prominence with Glimpses From My iPhone to the Sounds of Bollywood Bites, which won first prize at the first iPhone Film Festival (IFF).

Glimpses from my iPhone to the sounds of Bollywood bites from TheFilm Artist on Vimeo.

Obviously with Bollywood soundtracks and gritty scenes of London life constant themes in his films, I presumed correctly that TFA came from an Asian background and wasLondon-based.

This much is true; but the person sitting in front of me in a Soho cafe one wet Wednesday afternoon is not whom I expected.

Yet there are clues in his work. Why I wondered was he filming combine harvesters and fields of rapeseed? And a beautiful homage to César Manrique, ‘an artist, visionary and father of the nation who devoted his life in preserving the good things about the island Fuerteventura but tragically died in car accident in 1992′.

“I have always loved making films, and have a great love of cinema … we used to go to the cinema as a family and watch the three-hour Bollywood classics,” he says, sipping on an Americano. “Indian films have a reality and poignancy and the music and imagery of course is very strong. It has been a definite influence on me.”

So how did he start making films and what drew him to the iPhone in particular?

“I like to travel and I listen to music from Africa, Asia and Europe and I like to pick up and use the music from a place … in Madrid for example I use Spanish music. I started making films with a VHS camera, but the quality was appalling, then I got a digital camera – the Canon G series and taught myself how to edit on Arcsoft showbiz software on a PC.

“The iPhone is great because if you see something you like you can record it. When I’m in my car I stick it to the windscreen with some bluetack and press the record button as I am driving and go with the flow. The iPhone is excellent for capturing contrast with its HD capabilities.”

Has the police ever stopped him? After all, one of his latest films is of the London riots.

“Only in France once,” he says, “the Police came over and asked me what I was doing, but usually I like to blend in and I don’t look too threatening.”

He takes another sip of his coffee and leans over as if to let me in on a secret: “With a normal camera by the time you have set it up you have missed hundreds of good shots, with an iPhone not so many.”

As winner of best cinematography section in the IFF, the judges recognised TFA’s ‘awesome use of the camera and shots. The music perfectly matched the films tempo and ambiance. For example, when the music was fast paced the scenes moved accordingly and when the music required a soft and calm feel the scene changed according. The director did a great job relaying his message’.

He is justifiably proud to have his creativity recognised but says he is not making films for commercial gain. “Once that happens, all the joy goes out of doing what you do,” he says.

His style of filming and editing has developed over the years, but he follows a couple of simple rules. “Do your best and do it wholeheartedly, keep it simple, the more complicated you make it the more problems there are. I don’t have a lot of time to edit, so I piece the shot together in my mind and I only shoot a scene for 10–20 seconds max, and out of that individual scene I may only use seven seconds.”

To date, TFA has had more than 60,000 plays on his Vimeo channel of his films, which he says is a real achievement as viewers are watching from beginning to end.

How does he see film-making in the future. Will we all become smart moviemakers?

“With this new breed of film-makers we have to be directors, editors, cameramen. There is no acting, no script. Although I love the cinema and going to watch movies I think that soon it will be a think of the past.

“Young people especially have no capacity to watch films — they are watching short clips on smart TV and social networks, and like newspapers, cinema will suffer the same fate. They are trying 3D/4D but what next?”

Then he places his iPhone to the window of the cafe, hits record and slides it across the glass, capturing a perfect street scene of people rushing past; dodging the rain; water splashing over the pavement from passing taxis.

It is a scene shot in seconds with no set up and perfectly recorded on his smartphone — and all for the price of an Americano. And with that final shot TFA says farewell and steps out into the street and fades into the background, becoming just another guy with a smartphone.

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.


  1. [...] interviewed TFA last year and he is one of the most experienced iPhonefilm-makers on the scene,  an early [...]

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