Short of the Day: Michel Gondry Uses an iPhone – and only an iPhone – to Shoot ‘Detour’

A whimsical, imaginative branded short for Apple.
By  · Published on July 3rd, 2017

A whimsical, imaginative branded short for Apple.

No one creates cinematic worlds quite like Michel Gondry. His work is a particular mixture of fantasy and reality, lightheartedness and genuine emotion, and is realized with bright colors, inventive composition, and unparalleled, unbridled imagination. It’s been four years since Gondry’s last feature – Mood Indigo – but since then he’s been keeping himself busy directing music videos, short films, and even commercials, like the one for Apple we’re featuring today entitled Detour, which Gondry shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus.

The premise is simple enough – a family headed off on vacation loses their precocious young daughter’s prized tricycle – with a tiny twist – it’s the tricycle telling the story – and is drenched in all the whimsy, quirkiness, and dynamism we’ve come to expect from the French director. Most impressive, though, is Gondry’s use of the iPhone to capture certain shots a larger camera never could have. We already know that the quality of iPhone technology is up to filmmaking standards (re: Sean Baker’s Tangerine, and certain scenes from Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man) but Gondry really emphasizes the physical versatility of the tool, putting it places and using it in ways that are both innovative and effective.

With Detour, Gondry has made a short that captures a playfulness akin to works by Jacques Tati, Wes Anderson, and even Tim Burton in the early part of his career. He has also proven the point that you don’t need a big budget, fancy equipment, and famous names to make a great movie, you just need a story, some time, some friends, and your phone.

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Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist