Last week we brought you the news that 'Oldboy' filmmaker Park Chan-Wook has completed work on a short film that was shot entirely on an iPhone 4. The short, which is called 'Paranmanjang' (or 'Night Fishing,' for the handful of you who don't speak fluent Korean), is a macabre fable about a fisherman who snags an unusual catch on his line, although this being a Park Chan-Wook film, the "Unusual catch" is actually the corpse of a young woman, and odds are that she's not quite as dead as she looks.
'Paranmanjang' was unsurprisingly sponsored by KT Corp. -- the company that happens to own exclusive distribution rights to the iPhone in Korea -- and it will be premiering in six theaters there in the end of January. Earlier today Park's mini-opus was selected to play in next month's Berlin International Film Festival, but thanks to the folks over at Quiet Earth you can watch both the trailer as well as a nifty behind-the-scenes featurette as soon as you click over the jump. Neither clip is subtitled, but this is one of those exceptionally cool surprises that doesn't really require any translation.
Well that looks exactly how you'd imagine a Park Chan-Wook film shot on an iPhone might look. The clip is barely half a minute long, but nevertheless it leaves little doubt that the iPhone was no match for the auteur's maximalist tics. Instantly recalling the harshly confrontational aesthetic of 'Cut,' the short film Park made as part of the 'Three Extremes' omnibus, the teaser promises another quirky slice of psychological horror that'll induce nervous giggles and terrified screams in equal measure.
It would seem as if Park approached the gig as a fun way to challenge and further his mastery of light and color -- either that, or because some sucker bet him that he couldn't make the image of a woman shaking a fishing rod while cawing like a seagull utterly terrifying (spoiler alert: he could). The footage is inevitably kissed with a digital sheen inherent to the phone on which it was shot, but the rich dynamics of the images suggest that this is the result of some serious skill.
The featurette confirms our suspicions that Park didn't simply take his iPhone into the woods, remove it from his pocket, and hope that the built-in flash did the trick. Park is an especially meticulous filmmaker, and even though Paranmanjang' was made with a device that's more often used to slingshot war-mongering birds at helpless, amputee pigs than it is to capture video, the shoot maintained all the hallmarks of a professional production.
From the looks of things it seems as if Park was granted a large crew, as well as all of the equipment that such a work force tends to bring with it. Park had full lighting kits and sound equipment at his disposal, and the iPhones themselves are so dwarfed by both the lenses affixed to their faces as well as the rigs in which they're housed that it's often difficult to see them at all. But lest you forget that the whole thing was shot on a consumer device that drops a phone call if you're foolish enough to hold it with a human hand, in one amusing moment it seems as if Park's cinematographer is using Apple's patented "Pinch" technique to get a closer look at his monitor.
All that being said, the shoot's professional trappings do nothing to diminish our excitement for Park's short. The fun of seeing a master filmmaker squeeze every last drop of cinematic artistry from a mobile phone is akin to watching a great magician pull a rabbit out of a hat with his hands tied behind his back (the magician's hands, not the rabbit's). Except this is one trick that we're all encouraged to try at home -- we may not all be magicians, but a lot of us own hats, and 'Paranmanjang' might convince us that there's more magic in them than we thought.
Stay tuned for more details as they become available, and don't be surprised to see the full short available on the web in a few months.