'Parks and Recreation' reunion special shot on iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2020
Popular NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation," which last aired in 2015, is set to broadcast a special reunion episode this week to raise funds in aid of coronavirus response efforts, with the half-hour show filmed entirely on iPhone.

Parks and Recreation
The "Parks and Recreation" cast returns Thursday for a reunion special that was shot on iPhone. | Source: NBC


As can be expected, coordinating the scripted event while much of the U.S. is under strict quarantine orders was "very difficult," "Parks and Recreation" co-creator Mike Schur told Variety.

First Schur contacted a handful of writers from the show, who wrote the script in less than three days, then the team sent a "little rig with a tripod," iPhone, light and microphones to cast members. Directors and executive producers Morgan Sackett and Dean Holland, along with script supervisor Valeria Collins, helped develop the episode.

Schur and the ad-hoc production group directed and helped actors with camera framing and adjustments over Zoom. "The Good Place" graphics and effects team was also enlisted "to make it not look like everyone was just sitting alone in their houses staring at a computer," Schur said.

The episode was shot in four days.

While iPhone helped make the reunion episode a reality, Schur does not believe the process represents a shift in how television is made.

"Is there anything about this that points the way forward for TV production? And the answer is a resounding no," Schur said. "For me, this is not the way TV is be supposed to be made. It required an incredible amount of basically goodwill volunteer work, or guild minimum, union minimum volunteer work from from sound designers and editors and supervisors and all sorts of people really just doing it, because it's a fundraiser, because it was fun to get the cast back together. But, you know, TV is a team sport. From the very beginning to the very end, it's about groups of people functioning in holistic ways with each other, and collaborating and being in the same room at the same time. And, you know, I don't think there's any way that this is a sustainable method for making television."

The special stars many of the show's original cast including Amy Poehler , Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O'Heir, and Retta. Guest stars will also make appearances.

Schur said he "didn't think that Parks and Rec' was ever going to reunite," but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic presented a "compelling reason" to bring the cast back together. Proceeds from the special will go toward Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund.

NBC will air the "Parks and Recreation" special on Thursday.

A few other productions are using iPhone to film segments during the coronavirus lockdown, including American Idol and late-night talk show "Conan".

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Did Covid-19 ban TV cameras? Why is everyone suddenly using iPhone?
    mistergoodman
  • Reply 2 of 8
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 96member
    Beats said:
    Did Covid-19 ban TV cameras? Why is everyone suddenly using iPhone?
    TV cameras are too big and expensive to overnight to a large cast. iPhones and tripods do great video and are cheap in comparison.
    Rayz2016jbdragondoozydozen
  • Reply 3 of 8
    caskeycaskey Posts: 26member
    Beats said:
    Did Covid-19 ban TV cameras? Why is everyone suddenly using iPhone?
    A TV camera is more than just a bigger camera, it’s a whole system of equipment that needs to be handled and shot by professionals. An iPhone is a simple small all-in-one system that can be easily deployed to people in quarantine. 
    jbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 8
    fabinfabin Posts: 1member
    It is really just a marketing move. By doing something a little "different" they are able to generate more buzz...this article for example. While an iPhone is easy to use, the quality and control just don't match up to even a low end mirrorless setup (like a Canon M50 with a prime lens). Chances are they are still editing on FCPX, so they need to import the footage - there just went one of the biggest advantage of lower end video production: not editing it right there in the device. I am a HUGE Apple fan, but I always reach for other gear when recording video content that matters. The control and quality just can't be matched. Choosing to shoot on iPhones for a show like this isn't a cost decision, it's a marketing decision.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    calfotocalfoto Posts: 69member
    There's a real possibility the talent got to keep the iPhones as well...

    Look for an Apple commercial(s) during the show and perhaps a "Shot on Phone" in the credits
  • Reply 6 of 8
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 96member
    fabin said:
    Choosing to shoot on iPhones for a show like this isn't a cost decision, it's a marketing decision.
    Could be Apple provides free equipment for TV and movie production, Sony does not.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    narwhal said:
    fabin said:
    Choosing to shoot on iPhones for a show like this isn't a cost decision, it's a marketing decision.
    Could be Apple provides free equipment for TV and movie production, Sony does not.
    But then why is it airing exclusively on NBC?
  • Reply 8 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    narwhal said:
    Beats said:
    Did Covid-19 ban TV cameras? Why is everyone suddenly using iPhone?
    TV cameras are too big and expensive to overnight to a large cast. iPhones and tripods do great video and are cheap in comparison.

    I just thought studios with their multi-million dollar budgets would ship their cameras etc.



    caskey said:
    Beats said:
    Did Covid-19 ban TV cameras? Why is everyone suddenly using iPhone?
    A TV camera is more than just a bigger camera, it’s a whole system of equipment that needs to be handled and shot by professionals. An iPhone is a simple small all-in-one system that can be easily deployed to people in quarantine. 

    This makes sense but then who's shooting the video? The cast members? If a professional is doing it then that cancels out one reason.


    fabin said:
    It is really just a marketing move. By doing something a little "different" they are able to generate more buzz...this article for example. While an iPhone is easy to use, the quality and control just don't match up to even a low end mirrorless setup (like a Canon M50 with a prime lens). Chances are they are still editing on FCPX, so they need to import the footage - there just went one of the biggest advantage of lower end video production: not editing it right there in the device. I am a HUGE Apple fan, but I always reach for other gear when recording video content that matters. The control and quality just can't be matched. Choosing to shoot on iPhones for a show like this isn't a cost decision, it's a marketing decision.

    I'd have to disagree. What marketing advantage would these studios get by promoting Apple? Decrease image quality so they can claim they're "different"? And if you mean Apple is paying the studios to use iPhones that's not true since Apple does not pay for product placement.
Sign In or Register to comment.