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Released mere days after most of the world had gone into lockdown, Ben Berman's The Follow Up was already hitting the net.

As with most shorts constructed in this time, the film uses smart techniques (on-screen capture, 'selfie'-cam delivery) to drive its narrative. However, unlike pretty much any other film released so far, Berman's short can boast an IMDB-troubling list of performers, from Jon Lovitz to Lindsey Lohan.

Achieving his 'dream cast' through online service Cameo, Berman cleverly weaves the COVID-19 situation in with his own emotional state, resulting in a film that is both heartfelt and hilarious.

We chatted to the director to find out how to harness the power of smartphone snippets.

Ben Berman – The Follow-Up

Credits
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Credits
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Ben Berman - Director

How did you hear about Cameo? Who was the first person you searched for?

I came about cameo back in December. I was in a little bit of a weird bad place, emotionally, and I was taking a bath when I received a text from my friend John Mugar (who appears in the film as well as my feature The Amazing Jonathan Documentary). 

I found that very funny and weird, that I was naked in the bath and Jon Lovitz was talking to me.

John messaged me a cameo from Jon Lovitz in which Lovitz congratulated me on figuring out how to live a peaceful life and I found that very funny and weird, that I was naked in the bath and Jon Lovitz was talking to me.

I was like 'oh I want to try to make some sort of project utilizing Cameo videos'.  

The first person that I reached out to was Richard Karn from Home Improvement, who was very helpful.

What made you come up with the concept for the short? Was it in motion before the pandemic struck?

That idea of wanting to do something with Cameo came before the pandemic happened, but then once the quarantine was going on, that’s when I had time and motivation and a framework for why I would be utilizing the videos. 

I call it a documentary and it’s pretty much a weird Ben Berman documentary.

I was in quarantine and looking for connection with any other human, and therefore buying Cameos is a way to achieve some sort of human connection. 

Through the internet.

What was your process for the construction? Was it scripted before getting the Cameos in or did you react to them?

It was not scripted no.  

I call it a documentary and it’s pretty much a weird Ben Berman documentary.  

These things are real thoughts that I’m having, real concerns that I’m having and clearly Corona virus is a real thing that happened, or is happening.  

So yeah, nothing scripted and if anything it’s really just reacting to what’s in front of you and there and listening to what you get and figuring out the best way forward. 

It was finding what's going to be the most interesting, funny but relatable and meaningful way to go about it.

How did you decide how much of the pandemic and media's messaging about it to include? 

I don’t really know how to answer that question. 

You make choices making movies, and that was a choice; the ratio you just need to find for yourself.  

I think the hardest element, most of the time, is just bringing yourself to do it.

I can't say if it’s right or wrong, it just felt right to me.

You wrote, shot and edited the piece yourself - what do you consider the hardest element?

That’s an interesting question.  

I think the hardest element, most of the time, is just bringing yourself to do it.  

The mountain before you start anything, the concept of what you have yet to achieve, can be daunting so to actually the hardest thing is just getting past that to just begin.  

That's the hardest, I think; just beginning. 

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What's the best Cameo you've ever commissioned?

The best Cameo I’ve commissioned is probably from either Richard Karn or Jon Lovitz. 

I just love how those guys communicate. 

And I like those guys.

Who would you love to see on there who isn't?

John Mugar. 

I have not approached them for a bit of brand content funding. But let’s do that!

The film is a great ad for the service. Did you think of approaching Cameo for a bit of 'branded content' funding?

Wow! 

I have not approached them for a bit of brand content funding.  

But let’s do that!  

I’m happy to sell out and make an official commercial for them or anyone. 

No problem.  

Hit me up: horse_berman on Instagram or @lipsberman on Twitter. 

Click image to enlarge

You're pretty-much a one-stop-filmmaking-shop - any tips for people in isolation at the moment who might want to try their hand at constructing something solo?

Well… sure

The tip's, well, NO tips. Just do it.  

No tips, just do it.

What are you working on at the moment? Has the lockdown put a dampener to your creativity?

Yes and no.

Some days are tougher to want to put forward energy, but other days I’m extremely inspired.

Some days are tougher to want to put forward energy, but other days I’m extremely inspired.

I’m working on the continued narrative of The Follow Up: the follow up to The Follow Up.  

Seeing where that goes which is interesting. 

It’s a very interesting, personal, meta story, I suppose, and we’re seeing where that goes, if anywhere. 

So look out for the feature film version in 2021 or 2030 or I don’t know... and don’t care.  

And, yeah, some other projects I’m working on; some documentary stuff some commercials stuff and all that stuff.

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