Found footage and hidden camera movies have become quite popular in the past few years, evolving from being nothing more than a genre for horror movies, to now encompass everything including family movies. There have been mixed opinions regarding the genre, with some saying that it needs to die, and others claiming that it could herald the future of independent filmmaking.
The hidden camera genre has been quite popular with independent filmmakers, mostly because it is among the most inexpensive genres to film. After all, the most important feature of these films is believability, and the fewer special effects used, the more realistic it all becomes. One filmmaker, Byron Q from No Film School, has used the genre to create a film that tries to blend narrative fiction and reality by telling the story of a family in Las Vegas.
The film, called Las Vegas Story encountered many of the problems often encountered by films in the genre, from finding the right cast to creating the right atmosphere. Perhaps the biggest problem encountered by the crew, however, was that Las Vegas casinos don’t often allow any sort of filming to take place in their gaming rooms.
In an interview, the director said, “We couldn’t get permission. We literally called up every casino and they all turned us down before even any discussion of money. They just don’t want to deal with it unless you’re filming Hangover 2. I was inspired by that Sundance film Escape from Tomorrow where they secretly filmed inside Disneyland. I decided to do it in the casinos in the same way.”
Byron then goes on to explain that the whole process was nerve-wracking, “almost like some undercover secret agent stuff.” “We scouted extensively, and made sure we chose places to film where the lighting was already lit. Being in Vegas, it wasn’t too hard to find these spots, he continued. “Then we had to go undercover, everyone dressed like they’re ready to party. (We should win best-dressed indie film crew, if there’s such an award.) Buy a couple drinks, tip your bartender, do a few whoops and hollers at passing people, blend in.”
Blending in wouldn’t have been difficult, because as Intercasino explains, “Live casinos will surely have tons of people inside, meaning you will have to contend to the noise and distractions they make, especially if you are playing against them.” There was always someone there to keep the bartenders and dealers distracted, but the crew still felt worried about the repercussions of the film they made, afraid that they would get sued.
The hidden camera and found footage genre has already become a great venue for experimentation for many independent filmmakers, and Byron Q’s attempt at infiltrating casinos in order to tell a fictional narrative is just another example of how it can be used outside the field of horror. With a bit more refinement, we could see this genre finally seeing the recognition it deserves.