Apple-Man, a short superhero short film, filmed completely during the Covid-19 lockdown in the director’s 150 square feet bedroom – by Vasyl Moskalenko
The Coronavirus pandemic has been a shock for our industry, and for me as well. Before it, I was working on a feature film. Suddenly, filming ceased and I found myself locked inside my own bedroom. So, I decided to make a film inside my bedroom.
I didn’t want Apple-Man to look like a ‘found footage’ movie or a ‘home video’. For me, as a director, cinematic image is very important. I believe that a movie has to be visually exciting even if you have an ultra-low budget, or don’t have a budget at all.
When I first told my cinematographer, Vladimir Kratinov, that I want to shoot a superhero movie inside a 150 square feet room, he thought I’d lost my mind. After I showed him the script and my storyboard, however, he got excited. This became a very interesting challenge for him.
When you are making an ultra-low-budget film, you always deal with a great number of limitations. But this is nothing compared to when you film during a lockdown. I am locked inside a small apartment, with pale walls. I don’t have access to any props, except those I have in my apartment. My crew consists of only me and my cinematographer. I didn’t have any actors, except for myself.
One more limitation I added myself; we didn’t use chroma-key. I love this technology, but in this case it would have been cheating. If we say we shoot a complete movie in one apartment, we have no right to use footage in the background. Despite all the limitations, our goal was to make the footage look as close to traditional superhero Marvel and DC movies as possible.
Apple-Man used Blackmagic Mini Pro 4.6K URSA G2. What I love about this camera is that it delivers slow-motion in 300 frames-per-second. When you film a superhero movie, you need many frames-per-second for epic scenes. The URSA’s RAW is also perfect for colour-grading.
About the lenses, usually I work with Cooke anamorphic optics and Hawk V-Lite. But this time they were too expensive. I feel anamorphic footage is hard to work with for visual effects and we needed these to be added in post-production. We picked up Zeiss Compact Primes. Very simple solution, but I love that they deliver high contrast and work well in low light.
Prior to filming, we removed all the furniture from the room and used black plastic to cover the walls and floor. We used Astera AX-1 LEDs and Dedolights for lighting scenes. We used between five and six light sources for every scene. This helped our image look deep, despite the small size of our location.
We’ve since received great feedback about the film from all over the world. Jennifer Aniston liked Apple-Man on Instagram. So, we’ve decided to produce a ninety-minute feature! Just, not in my apartment.
Apple-Man the feature film has been successfully funded through Kickstarter, raising over $120,000 this year.
Vasyl Moskalenko is an Australian-based Ukrainian film director, script-writer and producer.