Cannes Lions

For Those That Follow / Shot on iPhone

TBWA\MEDIA ARTS LAB, Los Angeles / APPLE / 2023

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

In Android-dominant Thailand where smartphone cameras are hotly contested, Apple wanted to demonstrate iPhone 13 Pro’s camera superiority in low light, with a product demonstration that connected locally.

For this content hungry market with huge passion for Thai-made films, we looked to create a Shot on iPhone film that would ignite culture through an existing fan-base. The goal was for it to live on the Thai Apple YouTube channel, local streaming channels and inspire buzz in Thailand’s prolific social channels.

To connect authentically in the world of Thai fans, this piece of entertainment needed to be designed with local relevance at its core, so the choice of director, narrative themes and talent would play a critical role.

Idea

The first Thai Horror Film, Shot on iPhone.

‘Those That Follow’ is a 23-min hallucinatory tale that tells a story of karmic revenge, deeply rooted in local beliefs and inspired by real-life events.Our story follows two teens on the run after a robbery goes wrong. They attempt to lay low at the local ghost mask festival, stealing an ancient mask to blend in. But the mask wields a dark, karmic power and unleashes its curse onto the two friends. 

We chose to tell a never-before-told story inspired by the real-life festival of ‘Phi Ta Khon’ in northeastern Thailand where locals believe one day a year, ghosts are free to roam amongst us. These ghosts inhabit ancient masks. At the end of the festival, in order to release the evils in the masks, thousands of masks are floated down the river to “be free”.

Strategy

For a superstitious nation with deep love for “ghost movies”, shooting the horror genre on iPhone provided the perfect opportunity to prove iPhone capabilities and culturally connect with horror-loving young Thai’s.

In order to make iPhone feel more familiar to Thailand, the director we chose was central to making our horror film feel locally credible. We chose Parkpoom Wongpoom, one of the genre’s best, for his ability to ignite culture and make a piece of entertainment designed to grab headlines and inspire fans.

The story we told centred around the “bad behaviour” of youths butting up against ancient superstitions. This narrative was designed to connect with existing attitudes and behaviours of young Thai’s who feel unsure of whether to reject the past or embrace it. The moral conflict felt by our main character was driven by pervasive local reference to balancing good and bad and struggling with karmic luck.

Execution

The cinematic vision for ‘Those That Follow’ was to portray a hallucinatory tale of karmic revenge rooted in real traditional Thai beliefs.

Most critical/challenging, was ensuring the ingredient of darkness - central to any great horror film - could be delivered on iPhone.

With the story mainly set during the night, firelight and candles were used with larger lighting setups to replicate moonlight, but the sets remained largely low-lit.

This technically challenging shoot forced the DoP and Director to quickly gain understanding of shooting on the device.

Designed for the big screen, each shot was carefully framed, the smallest details considered.

No additional lenses were used.

Additionally, they were able to experiment with iPhone’s versatility and size, placing it in unexpected places (behind hand-painted ghost masks, on drones, on bamboo sticks while riding motorbikes) and passing iPhone to Lead Actor to hold for innovative angles to increase tension and suspense.

Outcome

The film received 14 million views (Bangkok’s population is 11 million) and is Apple YouTube in Thailand’s most viewed content to date - outpacing even our launch films. The channel saw the highest bump in subscriber growth during the campaign period, drawing in 118K+ new subscribers and social mentions that exceeded 350K in 3 weeks.

The film left viewers raving about it, some asking for a film sequel and even inspiring some to create fan art.

‘Those That Follow’ sparked local pride, and triggered Android users to talk about switching to iPhone after seeing iPhone’s incredible performance in low light.

Whilst not PR’ed or available outside Thailand, the film drew audiences from beyond our borders and was covered by over 50 publications across Southeast Asia.

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