"When a kid starts spending time in the real world, it’s up to his smartphone to bring his attention back to where it belongs."
Like And Follow is a short film written and directed by Brent Forrest and Tobias Schlage about addiction to smartphones and becoming oblivious to what happens in the real world. A highly psychological film, it transposes a mental state into staging, presenting a boy being enslaved by his phone. The boy’s internal conflict is turned into an external one by portraying his mobile phone as a character.
Two main characters (with a number of supporting characters), a highly psychological theme, an internal conflict presented as an external one and an emphasis on staging are the main elements of the short.
Staging shifts between the boy’s mind and the real world (rural and suburban areas) for the first scene, and for the second scene a film theater is used as location. A stylized aesthetic is employed with saturated colors in line with the comedy genre the directors chose, while using grey fog to represent the clouded perception of the boy (in contrast with the colorful real world). Music complements the visuals appropriately, and changes significantly when the narrative point of view switches to the smartphones in the theater, which recontextualizes the story and transitions the genre to a horror one, from the POV of the phones.
Character designs are worth noting, as their expressiveness adds a lot to the short and helps greatly in transmitting conflict and the boy’s state of mind. Two-shots abound to present the phone and the boy together, a good number of close-ups to show the expressions of the characters or place an emphasis on certain elements, as well as POV shots.
Camera moves are frequent since the characters are walking most of the time. A few nice zoom outs are used, one of them helps transmit the feeling of the boy recovering his perception of his surroundings (0m15sec). The tilt and camera shake as the boy falls to the ground in the sequence of the car (0m34sec) are also very effective at transmitting the sensory image of the fall. Towards the end, as visual rhythm increases, crash zooms and whip pans are employed.
What makes Like And Follow work so well? Great creativity, abrasive humor, highly imaginative staging, plenty of surprises, expressive characters, great change in narrative POVs and a choice of subject that will appeal to a very wide audience.
The subject of addiction to technology has been addressed before by great shorts such as iDiots, Man In Phone, Glued and Short Circuit, among others. So it’s worth highlighting that the directors have come up with a highly original way of approaching the subject and have delivered a notably accurate portrait of the situation and its effect on people.
The idea for the short was inspired by the personal experience of one of the directors, Tobias Schlage, when he started using smartphones. It took the artists one year to make the film.