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Can't Wait to Make a Feature? Go Crazy on Mobile App Vine like 'TUB' Director Bobby Miller

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire March 1, 2013 at 2:54PM

Bobby Miller's short "TUB" played at Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, and more -- an awesome lineup.  Like other narrative filmmakers just out of film school, Miller was excited by the success of his short film, but he was getting anxious. 
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A scene from Bobby Miller's "TUB."
A scene from Bobby Miller's "TUB."

Bobby Miller's short "TUB" played at Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, and more -- an awesome lineup.  Like other narrative filmmakers just out of film school, Miller was excited by the success of his short film, but he was getting anxious. 

After the success of "TUB" and finishing up at Columbia University, Miller moved to Los Angeles and got representation.  He's been doing a lot of web work, and he likes that, but he's got a feature-length script sitting at home and he's itching to spend some time on some of his own projects.  What's he to do?

A few months ago, Miller discovered the micro-film mobile app Vine, which is like an Instagram for six-second videos.  A few weeks ago, after realizing he wanted to buy some iPhone lenses to shoot certain scenes for his Vine videos, he wondered if it would be worth the cost.  He constructed a Kickstarter video, and after Kickstarter approved the project, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $89 for a lens he wanted to buy for his iPhone.  

Here's the Kickstarter video:

Explaining to Indiewire the appeal of the app, Miller said, "Part of me just really reacted strongly to it.  It reminded me of making things in 5th grade.  It was attractive to me because it was so simple.  I don't need to spend money, and I can simply make something and upload it... it's out right away."

As is often the case with Kickstarter, the $89 he was asking for was needed to buy the lens, but the campaign is also about bringing attention to the micro-videos he's making -- and to himself as a filmmaker.  On Day 1, Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann donated.  One of the incentives on the campaign was for Miller to create a Vine video and dedicate it to donors; they've all been claimed.

Footage shot within the Vine app can be cut together within the app to form films with several cuts.  Though the six-second limit sounds daunting, some vine users have discovered some really great ways to make compelling or surprising films.  Vine videos, constantly looping as they are on an Instagram-like feed, are like animated .gifs created by the user with original content.  Sometimes these short films are made to document or to dazzle or to shock with what the film historian Tom Gunning would call "the cinema of attractions;" other times, they are micro-narratives or short jokes.  

Miller continued, "Vine feels pure. In six seconds, you have to convey something through a series of shots.  And it's all done with "in camera" editing.   You don't have to ask permission to make them.  And you can't monetize it.  I think the last thing is pretty big, because it eliminates the need to satisfy anyone but yourself."

Early adopters on the platform include the New York artist Kyle M. F. Williams (display name: Keelayjams), whose Vine work includes throwing a handful of hot dogs at a ceiling fan, and "2 Days in Paris" and "Dazed and Confused" actor Adam Goldberg (display name: Adam Goldberg), whose films often star himself and are heavy on the cuts.

Miller told Indiewire that he'd spend the extra money he's raising above and beyond his Kickstarter goal to buy more equipment to make more interesting Vine videos.

And that feature-length script is still waiting to be made, though things are moving.  Jordon Horowitz ("Save the Date") is signed on to produce the film, titled "The Master Cleanse," about a retreat to cleanse toxins that takes a turn for the worse when the participants' toxins materialize and take monstrous form.

Here's to hoping Miller's Vine videos are soon shot from the set of that film.

While Vine videos are not easily embedded into webpages, Miller's short film "TUB" (which also raised money on Kickstarter) is.  The logline says it all:  "Paul jerked off in the shower. Paul just impregnated his bath tub." Here's the film in full:

TUB - A Short Film from Bobby Miller on Vimeo.

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: Technology, Filmmaker Toolkit: Crowdfunding, Mobile App