Making Myanmar’s first iPhone film

Having established a reputation as a talented filmmaker, Nyo Min Lwin is starting a new trend with his direct-to-video film made entirely with an iPhone. He plans to release “Yè Kan” (“The Loom”) on the Apple Store. 

What inspired “Yè Kan”?

I like Apple. Apple has many functions and applications that can be used professionally. So I thought about making a film with it. Last year I watched Apple’s “1.24.14” video and found out later that this one-minute-and-a-half video was made with Apple’s products. I became very interested upon learning that the film was made with an iPhone within one day. When I check out the creators behind this film, I learnt that it was produced by director Ridley Scott, who directed “Gladiator” and “Robin Hood”, and directed by his son. If these people can confidently make a film [with Apple’s products], why can’t we do it here as well?  

Why did you choose to make the film this way?

I didn’t need to study much about handling an iPhone. When we were starting out, I didn’t act as a cameraman. Here the most important thing is the ability to keep a secret. Secondly, the right person [for the job] must be interested in technology. U Tint San, my cameraman, suits both criteria. He likes to keep abreast of the latest developments in smart phone technology. When I consulted with him, he accepted the offer right away. As we accept that the cameraman is more important than the camera, there weren’t any particular challenges.

Was filming with an iPhone hard?

I bought the products two months before the shooting started. We spent many nights to train and familiarise the film crew with the devices. I believe we have done enough training.

Why a horror film?

So far I have never made a horror film premised on Myanmar folktales. So I’ve always wanted to do it for a long time. So when I planned on making a film with an iPhone, this kind of plot came to mind. I want this film to be a fusion of tradition and modern technology. As the filming was done indoor, it was easy to keep the film under wraps.  But part of the shooting also took place at an apartment on 15th Street for a weaving workshop scene.

As an actor-cum-director, did you find the filming difficult? 

After shooting and reviewing the first part after editing on a Mac, I felt that I’d overcome all the challenges.

Do you want to say anything to the audience about this film?

There are many people who believe in this as well as those who do not. My real intention is clean. I’ve heard about the ridiculous rules governing how a film qualifies as a feature film based on a certain type of cameras. That’s an insult to the early Myanmar films from the 1920s that were made with ancient cameras looking like wooden junk boxes. Any film with a certain degree of visual and sound quality   should be accepted regardless of the type of camera used. Young people should be allowed to confidently show their films to the public.

I hear the film was made out of your own pocket. Does this make things a lot easier? 

Yes, that’s correct. Now you can easily create a simple short video within a few hours. Why do they want to control the creators in this high-tech age? We need to welcome them.

Will the film be available on the Apple Store?

Yes. I want to pave the way for the young people. There are many obstacles. I need to pass many stages. I hope internet speed will improve and an online movie store will become developed in the next four or five years.