Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
On the release of his Netflix film The Irishman, director Martin Scorsese implored audiences to not watch his films on smartphones.
“I would suggest,” Scorsese told Rolling Stone magazine, “if you ever want to see one of my pictures, or most films – please, please don’t look at it on a phone, please. An iPad, a big iPad, maybe.”
But the convenience of the smartphone means it’s become the device of choice for many people to watch content.
For Cadness Street Productions sibling duo Stallone and Abba-Rose Vaiaoga-Ioasa, their latest “vertical series” I Got You pushes this idea even further.
Made specifically for Instagram and filmed entirely in 9:16 format, each three-minute episode is further condensed and split into one-minute IG reels.
While the idea might be an intimidating one for other filmmakers, for Abba-Rose and Stallone who are renown for their innovative filmmaking methods and fast turnaround are up for the challenge.
Writer/director Stallone says, “in this part of the world it’s a relatively unexplored format or ratio.”
“But overseas in China and other Asian countries, it’s sort of a norm now to have to watch a drama or comedy on your phone vertically.”
“They were treating that aspect ratio as its own genre with its own rules.”
The production itself was also an impressive feat. With 30 emerging and experienced actors fronting the camera and fresh talent working behind the scenes, I Got You held many opportunities to nurture new Pasifika creators.
The series follows the side hustle of the ultimate hustler Mac, a charismatic and hilarious romance-savvy advisor who helps guide the love lives of her clients – despite never being in a relationship herself.
Mac, played by actress and comedian Sieni Leo’o Olo (aka Bubbah), marks her second collaboration with Abba-Rose and Stallone, this time as both actor and writer.
“I’ve always looked at them as mentors and that’s exactly what they were when we started writing,” enthuses Olo.
“We were trying to look for young writers and there’s actually not that many out there, for comedy especially, and it was a cool discovery because that’s a lane I want to go into now.”
“I kept calling myself the third sibling,” Olo laughs.
She also admits taking off her writer’s hat to step into her acting role was a struggle in the beginning, “it totally flipped me,” she remembers.
“During the writing I had a set idea, then having people bring [the characters] to life…I legit had to drop everything and act as if I’d just been handed the script.”
Stallone adds, “I think for us it was hard coz we realised we’re working in a new space and there’s no precedent for this island girl character…there’s no point of reference for an island girl entrepreneur, early twenties.”
“A lot of New Zealand content you rarely see the age group, and if there are, their life experience is very different.”
“So I think we’re trying to find how much does Mac know as a character, can you still be street smart but never been in a relationship? And because she never says that in the whole season, it’s only something that’s sort of known to us.”
“But Bubbah did an amazing job,” Stallone reassures.
Connecting her clients with counselling, their crushes and even a palagi, Olo’s performance as Mac possesses a genuine earnestness that’s hard to fake on screen.
Her gambol into the love lives of her clients is not only entertaining, but laugh-out-loud hilarious and a great way of presenting the Pacific Island experience in a new light.
“When you think about it, how often do you see Islanders on screen in a romantic context, comedic or otherwise?” Stallone asks.
“Put our people in these situations that are kind of common and almost cliché, but have our own spin on it.
“Just seeing those brown faces in those spaces is really interesting.”
Click here to watch all the episodes of I Got You.