The test of individual dedication to a director is whether there will still be a level of excitement for any project they put out regardless of format. Damien Chazelle’s recent collaboration with Apple a short film to promote the vertical filmmaking capabilities of the iPhone 11 is a good example. As a huge fan of his work but someone who hates the idea of watching professionally produced content on your smartphone one of the best film makers working today collaborates with one of the most dangerous industry threats (I say that as someone who tried to give Quibi a chance.) Nevertheless, the short was a high priority watch regardless of format.
The central premise is strong. A perspective on the historical progress of film making through the eyes of a stunt double or in a neat 9-minute package. The immediate comparison as the credits rolled was what an audience might have gotten had Chazelle been around to do a crossover with a moderately obscure mid 2000 PC game called The Movies. This was a game developed by Lionhead Studios before they were acquired and then dissolved by Microsoft. It was essentially what would happen if The Sims and Rollercoaster Tycoon had a baby. The central premise was very similar in that it allowed players to trace the historical evolution of film making through making their own mini movies by setting up their own movie studio. It’s desperately in need of an HD remaster/ remake. Chazelle takes this basic idea and infuses it with his very cinematic shooting style even with the limitations of give being entirely shot in iPhone 11 vertical mode. If anything, the various small segments that make up the short will make viewers curious what Chazelles feature length stabs at the genres might look like. It’s a fun way to spend 10 minutes for hardcore fans but (unlike The Movies) it’s far too short to truly take advantage of its premise.
The Stunt Double is an interesting and engaging experiment with Chazelle style clearly visible even with the limitations of the vertical shooting style and the fact the short film exclusively exists as an Apple promotion. That said it’s mainly for diehard fans and those interested in seeing what a big filmmaker brings to the format but don’t want to invest in the sinking ship of Quibi.
You can watch the short below.