U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 51 mins
  • S&P Futures

    +2.50 (+0.06%)
  • Dow Futures

    -5.00 (-0.02%)
  • Nasdaq Futures

    +10.25 (+0.08%)
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    +3.50 (+0.20%)
  • Crude Oil

    +0.17 (+0.25%)
  • Gold

    +0.30 (+0.02%)
  • Silver

    +0.08 (+0.33%)

    0.0000 (-0.0000%)
  • 10-Yr Bond

    -3.4810 (-100.00%)
  • Vix

    -24.15 (-100.00%)

    +0.0015 (+0.1236%)

    +0.0390 (+0.0294%)

    +215.37 (+0.77%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    +10.61 (+1.75%)
  • FTSE 100

    +132.37 (+1.79%)
  • Nikkei 225

    +555.82 (+2.06%)

How this Director created a feature film shot on iPhones

Christopher Carter Sanderson, Film Producer & Director, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss his film 'Macbeth' that was shot on iPhones and his thoughts on the future of entertainment.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: "Fair is foul and foul is fair," said the witches in the opening scene of "Macbeth." The reason we mention that is because the pandemic has been anything but fair, especially to the hundreds and thousands of men and women who make their living by entertaining all of us with plays like Macbeth.

So there is a way, partially, around this. And we invite into the stream Christopher Carter Sanderson. He is a filmmaker. He's also-- The Gorilla Rep NYC announcing that they're gonna start shooting "Hamlet" all on iPhones, but the actors already did this with "Macbeth." Tell us when we can see it and how it's been received.

CHRISTOPHER CARTER SANDERSON: The reception has been absolutely fantastic. I was given Best Director of the festival at the Berlin Underground Film Festival, which surprised me. Also, we sold the premiere of "Macbeth" right out of the gate, within a month, to Hamilton College, who used it to headline their virtual Shakespeare festival.

And we were suddenly in the black, which is unusual for a small film. We're now nominated for three awards at the Young-Howze Journal awards. And the Young-Howze Journal has been covering the digitalization of theater since the beginning of the crisis, so we're really honored.

And as soon as those guys tell us which, if any, of those wonderful awards we win, we'll be distributing it the very next day on video-on-demand. That's "Macbeth." And the success of it just propelled "Hamlet." So we're already in production with "Hamlet."

SEANA SMITH: Chris, I mean, just explain to us how this works. Because when you think about making a movie, everyone shooting it on their own iPhones, how did you do rehearsals? How did you perfect the audio? I mean, so many things needed to go right in order for this to become a reality, which it sounds like it went off much, much better than expected.

CHRISTOPHER CARTER SANDERSON: Absolutely. It went off like a charm. Mostly I know a huge network of wonderful actors. I've been directing theater professionally for over 30 years and-- which is a euphemism. And I just know these wonderful people who are willing to be their own camera people and really work with me on making the thing happen.

They literally went together on a Zoom with me to hear each other's voices and to sort of talk about the choices, but then they shot themselves on their iPhones in complete close-up. The whole film is in close-up. And then we would go back and forth, and I would give them some notes. And we collaborated on getting the footage right.

And then, once we did, we sent it into our editor, who's fantastic. Lisa Baron here at upstate. And she and I cut it all together, literally with people who weren't even in the same room ever.

ADAM SHAPIRO: It doesn't replace the income that these men and women have lost, but I got to imagine this opens the door when we're past the pandemic for a whole new revenue stream for actors, doesn't it?

CHRISTOPHER CARTER SANDERSON: I believe it does. And also I think it does for both my company and for our art form. I've literally been pitching theater artistic directors for years to let me direct a play. And then as soon as the play starts performing, those actors are only working two hours, three hours a day.

Let me take a couple of other hours and create a film with either the new play or the Shakespeare that we're working on. I've pitched it all over the place. I'd love to tell you that this was a story about me pivoting into figuring this out, but the truth is I've been trying to shoot a close-up "Macbeth" since 2003, which was the third year of a running of my very successful production in New York City.

It just so happens that within the first couple of days of the lockdown my big deal, final break, you know, I finally had a script being looked at by a big producer. They dropped it cold because of the COVID, and so within a couple of days I just asked the actors, is this the time? Would you be willing to take those cameras in your pockets and make "Macbeth"?

Luckily for me, Lisa Baron, the editor, said yes first, so I knew that we could put it together. And off we went.

ADAM SHAPIRO: I got to tell you, years ago, I had the privilege of getting to see-- I think was Alan Cumming in a one-man "Macbeth," which was something else. But this, though, I would imagine it's not just entertainment value. I'm thinking back to high school. This would have been incredibly helpful to me as a student.

When you're trying to read "Macbeth" and you're reading in the middle English or in the Renaissance English, to then see actors perform it, you get a better understanding. Are you going to venture that way? Are you going to become the CliffsNotes of digital?

CHRISTOPHER CARTER SANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. We're gonna become the sort of Hallmark Hall of Fame of Shakespeare. I believe that people will be looking to the Shakespeares we're creating hundreds of years from now because I don't cut them. They're completely uncut. So they're brilliantly acted, they're award-winning, and they're uncut.

And, you know, I've been doing outdoor theater, very guerrilla style. And what I tried to do was make the audience feel like they were in the front row, like right up in front of the actor's face. And, really, that's what the audiences are telling me the effect that they're getting. Especially when they're on an iPhone and watching it on an iPhone because it's like having the whole cast right in the palm of your hand.

SEANA SMITH: Christopher, I want to ask you about what we heard from Governor Cuomo today. He was talking about he wants to reopen Broadway. He's saying that there might be a way to do it with limited capacity.

I'm curious just to get your thoughts on that. And then also just how this all works when you talk about the fact that some of these actors are only working a couple of hours a day, maybe they could also work on projects like yours while Broadway does reopen.

CHRISTOPHER CARTER SANDERSON: Well, I agree. You see, because when Broadway opens it's gonna have to be in a very limited capacity. We all just watch the Super Bowl, and we saw an awful lot of cardboard cutouts with, you know, a couple of people every 15 or 20 seats.

So if Broadway opens, it's gonna be at a very limited capacity. So my suggestion is that every single Broadway producer listening to this podcast or to your wonderful show gets in touch with me immediately about directing shows to both be simultaneous films and Broadway shows.

At the end of the day, I'm an artistic director who also handles a theater company and has done so in New York for decades, and I simply cannot conscionably ask people to get back into a theater until they're really at least guaranteed to be as safe as they were before the pandemic.

And I'm sure you've all seen the underlying story. There's been no flu this year, which means that we've been giving people a flu on Broadway for over 100 years. That's going to have to be addressed, and I think what I'm doing is part of addressing that.

ADAM SHAPIRO: We appreciate your joining us to talk about all of this and wish you the best as you transform the digital world. Just don't become the Lifetime channel of digital because then we're gonna have to watch Markie Post a million times in all of your productions. All the best to you, Gorilla Rep NYC and the founder Christopher Carter Sanderson. Filmmaker as well. Thank you for being here.