"People thought I was crazy to want to shoot and edit my film on iPhone"
Amr Al-Hariri is a talented artist who makes his films in his own way.
He produces, shoots and edits his films with an iPhone and an iPad ("People thought I was crazy"). His first film, Silent Love Stories, is a 28-minute short with no dialogues. Using just music and a small cast & crew, Amr tells an exciting story with a lot of emotions. The film's success (34 international awards), made him work on the 2nd version - Silent Love Stories-II, a 31-minute film which recently won awards at Top Shorts and Los Angeles Film Awards.
In the following interview, Amr takes us behind the scenes of his films, shares his thoughts about creativity and storytelling, reveals his plans for the future and even a small dream ("Silent Lover Stories - Angelina/Brad!").
Amr, congratulations on the recent awards with Silent Love Stories-II. The first volume, Silent Love Stories-I, also received much attention in the festival circuit and won many awards! What part of Silent Love Stories I or II are you most proud of?
A-I am most proud of being able to make a high quality production utilizing a tool available to millions of people. That is an iPhone. I did all Cinematography, editing, and production exclusively on iPhone and iPad.
Let's talk about how you became a filmmaker. Where did you grow up, and what made you want to become a filmmaker? How did you start out?
A-You might say that I am an “accidental” filmmaker, which started by being an “accidental” podcast producer.
My twin boys and I had a nightly routine of listening to bedtime stories on podcasts. They were in the third grade when we started, but by fifth grade we were running out of good podcasts to listen to. One night we listened to a story from “One Thousand and One Nights” and they loved it! listen to.
These are Middle Eastern stories that I read as a child. I was surprised when they liked the, too. That ignited an idea. What if I made stories for my kids myself? So I started working on the project and used their feedback to hire voice over actress.
I published the podcast on Podbean and made it available to friends. A few days after publication, I got an email from Podbean that they really liked my work. It was featured next to Sesame Street! I learned how to submit to iTunes Podcast and found myself featured under “New and Noteworthy.” A few months later, I was featured under “What is Hot.” Ultimately, I made it to the “Top Charts” under the Kids & Family Category and have been there ever since.
The podcasts contain short animated movies. I also did a short music video of a song my son made on Garage Band. That was what got me to think about making a unique music video with songs by Deanna Delore, who is the mother of my children.
I came up with an unusual concept that was not well received at first. Each song would tell a story with characters coming and going through various songs. But the singer would not be the star of the music video. People thought I was crazy to want to shoot, edit and produce it on iPhone.
I started researching how to do it. After 3 months, I completed the movie and became “a filmmaker!!”
What is the most important lesson that you learned from the 2017 production, and how did you apply if for the second volume in 2018?
A- The more you work with the iPhone, the better the cinematography is.
Music plays a significant role in Silent Love Stories - II. Tell us about your work with composer Kaden Hariri and vocalist Deanna Delore - what was the composition process like, and how did you work together to achieve your vision?
A-Deanna is a very accomplished vocalist and voice teacher. Indeed she is invited to sing in Carnegie Hall December 2018. So I was handed amazing music to work with. We only needed to change the arrangement for couple of songs to fit the movie template.
As per my son Kaden, he did not take my work seriously until he sat with me in a real movie theatre watching Silent Love Stories-I being played on the big screen with his name. Talking about making real cinema on the same piece of technology that he plays Minecraft on, was something you have to see to believe.
What was the biggest challenge the production presented you with, and how did you cope with it?
A-After completing the first song. Until then, I was not sure that this project was possible considering my inexperience regarding filmmaking. Apparently, meticulous technical and artistic research paid off and SILENT LOVE STORIES was born.
You shot in some beautiful locations! How did you go about getting the locations for the shoot?
A-The movie was shot mostly in Newport Beach where I live. The locations were familiar places I visited frequently so I knew about the “light distribution” and best times to shoot.
Having my “studio” in my pockets, that is my iPhone, helps a lot. It takes seconds to evaluate lighting, angles, and scenery whenever a location gets my attention.
If you had an unlimited budget to do whatever project you wish, what would it be, and why?
A- Silent Lover Stories - Angelina/Brad !!!!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What are your short term and long term career goals?
A- I will be releasing Silent Love Stories - Newport Beach a 90 minutes feature, that contains scene from I & II in 4K.
I am hoping that in 10 years Silent Love Stories - around the world in 90 minutes will be a feature that I complete successfully, with songs from different countries around the world.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your job as a director?
A-It is a lot and lot of work, that is a lot and lot of fun.
What's next for you, and what's next for Silent Love Stories?
A- I will be working on a a 90 minutes feature using the same template; Silent Love Stories - Los Angels
I am also working on releasing new 40 episodes of my podcast for children. These very entertaining fairy tales are very special, because each episode has 10-15 words from the core vocabulary of SAT exam. Children of 6th,7th, and 8th grade will build a solid vocabulary to score high in the SAT exam, way before they get in high school.
Where can our followers see more of your work?
A- Silent Love Stories-I is available free on Amazon Prime, as well as can be purchased from iTunes, Google Play, and Vimeo on Demand.
Silent Love Stories-II is available on Vimeo on Demand. It is in the process of being published on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play.
Do you have any tips for young filmmakers?
A-Be meticulous, obsessive, yet think out of the box.