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High Flying Bird, Movie That Shot on The iPhone’s Camera

High Flying Bird is a 2019 American sports drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh, from a story suggested by André Holland, with the screenplay by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film stars Holland, Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Glenn Fleshler, Jeryl Prescott, Justin Hurtt-Dunkley, Caleb McLaughlin, Bobbi Bordley, Kyle MacLachlan and Bill Duke, with additional appearances of basketball players Reggie Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Donovan Mitchell.


The film was shot entirely on the iPhone 8, becoming Soderbergh’s second film to be shot on an iPhone, after Unsane. The film had its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival on January 27, 2019, and was released on February 8, 2019, by Netflix. The film received positive reviews from critics, which praised its performances, Soderbergh’s direction, themes, editing, shooting style and screenplay. 

The movie ‘High Flying Bird‘ explores the overall picture of the game of basketball once the domestic politics of the game and the use of the game as a business tool is stopped. In order to do so, the ‘High Flying Bird‘ has carried out a very close search without naming any specific group or leaking inside information, as if listening to the secrets of the executives in the boardroom, and narrowing their eyes as much as possible through the gap. 

The movie begins with an interview with Detroit Pistons basketball player Reggie Jackson. Interviews of three real basketball players have been used in the movie at different times to give the viewer an idea of the inside picture of the game. Shortly after the interview, the visitor is taken to one of Manhattan’s most iconic restaurants, where Agent Ray advises client Eric to take out any additional loans during their lockout period. In the meantime, Ray knows that his credit card has been defaulted by the company, and as long as the company is out of the game, Ray’s bank balance will gradually decline. 

So Ray’s own need to lift the lock this time. However, Myra, the representative of the players’ association, has lost confidence in basketball after seeing the tricks of the team leaders in the game. So he is reluctant to lend a helping hand to Ray. In the meantime, to complicate the story of the movie again, the two basketball players expose the conflict between themselves on social media and expose the whole thing. 

This is the second movie that independent director Steven Soderbergh has captured on the iPhone, breaking the regular tradition with new movies. He captured the 2016 movie ‘Unseen‘ with iPhone 6 and ‘High Flying Bird‘ was shot with iPhone 8. The cinematic sheen that comes with shooting with a larger camera is naturally not found much in smaller cameras like the iPhone. However, due to its small size, it can be easily set and carried. Soderbergh has made maximum use of this facility.

A fictional NBA The ‘iPhone‘ is the ideal device for listening and peeking out whispers between agents during a lockout, heated exchanges between executives, secret alliances or antagonistic conversations between excited bosses. Because of course it’s miniature. Unseen, in Soderberg, used the iPhone to evoke a claustrophobic experience in the internal affairs of a mental hospital. From there, the movie is relatively fast. ‘High Flying Bird’, through its fictional lockdown, paints a picture of what would happen and what the situation would be like (?) If professional players took their careers into their own hands and used the Internet to leak inside information. In the conventional sense, this is not a sports genre movie. The ‘High Flying Bird’ has used the power of basketball as a catalyst to rise up against 21st century capitalist attitudes and to tell the story of working people. 

The Oscar-winning screenplay writer McCraney for the movie ‘Moonlight‘ is very layered and sharp. N.B.A. McCarnie’s screenplay challenges the audience’s preconceived notions of how he sees his players or what he does for them. It became clear in his dialogues how much McCarni had to keep abreast of the players’ psychology and the current state of the game. However, McCarney did not forget to add a little humor to the sticky issues. Just as the screenplay has added a poetic melody to the writing, it has become a spiral in terms of shape.

Visualizing McCarnie’s screenplay is also a challenge. But Soderberg and the actors have embraced the challenge by humanizing his script, which is full of artistic eloquence. Soderberg himself did the editing under the pseudonym Mary Ann Bernard, as he always did. He made clear the divisive nature of the whole movie with a nice cut in the scene of two basketball players Eric and Jamero facing each other. In another scene; As Eric and Jamero prepare to face each other, the kids cheer and cheer- Soderberg offers a vivid example of the players’ passion and authority over the game, jumping from there and flying through the skies of a plane in a calm, gray silhouette shot. The jump-cut used here is one of the features of Soderberg’s editing style. 

However, the question of what would have happened if the players had taken the rights they deserved by removing the mediators from the process of playing basketball on the back of everything- the question has become resonant again and again outside the basketball court, in the locker room, on the internet. The film also warns of the future of the game, which has fallen head over heels in current culture and domestic politics. With ‘High Flying Bird’, Steven Soderbergh has expressed his unique philosophy about filmmaking. Just as Ray Burke was trying to fool the capitalism system in the movie, Soderbergh suggested thumbing down the current studio-based approach to filmmaking and focusing on fully independent funding or, if necessary, smartphone-centric filmmaking. 




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