Apple has released a magical coming-of-age story on 29 January, retelling audiences about the legend of the Nian monster for Chinese New Year. Director Lulu Wang helmed the short film—along with her team behind the Golden Globe nominated film The Farewell—using the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The story features Ah Ting, a little but fearless little girl who searches for and befriends the Nian monster. The short film also featured coming-of-age themes, and talked about overcoming the fear of going into the unknown as you grow older.
Based on a Chinese legend, the Nian is a beast that lives under the sea or in the mountains. At the beginning of Chinese New Year, the Nian comes out of its hiding place to “eat children”. Some say that it resembles a flat-face lion with a dog’s body and prominent incisors—pretty similar to the Nian featured in the film.
Legend has it, the Nian was afraid of the colour red, so people would put red lanterns and spring scrolls on their windows and doors. People also created noise from drums and fireworks for the same reason.
“It’s really excited we have this opportunity to retell this ancient story to capture these incredibly cinematic images with the iPhone—this very versatile device,” said Lulu Wang.
Wang also notes that the iPhone 12 Pro Max helped her “with a lot of flexibility” in terms of designing shots for the film. This includes its Dolby Vision HDR video recording, better low light image capabilities, stabilisation, the Ultra Wide lens, and the Telephoto lens.
For the making of film, the crew also used various mounts and stabilisers to record with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. This included sticking the iPhone onto the wheel of a wheelchair to shoot the Nian rolling on the ground.
“I hope when audiences realise that we shot it on iPhones they will feel empowered,” continued Wang, “They don’t have to wait for permission to go out and make things.”
In July 2020, Apple released a short film about working from home—featuring the “Underdogs” from their 2019 short film. The film highlights how Apple’s hardware and software can help people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.