Quibi stars have no quibble with new phone-only filmmaking

ap photo This image released by Quibi shows Stephan James in a scene from “#FreeRayShawn.”

NEW YORK — They were skeptical. The name was weird. The concept was a little crazy — but it was intriguing.

Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz and rising star Stephan James each overcame initial reluctance to become pioneers in Quibi, the mobile phone-only platform that offers installments of movies and TV in 10 minutes or less.

“When they told me about the whole endeavor, I said, ‘Really? Have attention spans come down that far? It’s now below 10 minutes?'” jokes Waltz.

Now on the other side, both film actors are firm believers in the process that transforms their art into something snack-sized. “It was kind of ingenious and I’m honestly glad I took the risk,” says James. “As the times change, we’ll change with it — and we should.”

Quibi launched last week with a staggering 175-plus programs planned for this year, including “Punk’d,” with Chance the Rapper and “Chrissy’s Court,” with Chrissy Teigen administering justice in small claims cases.

Two of the more prestigious scripted shows are Waltz’s “Most Dangerous Game” — co-starring Liam Hemsworth as a man who becomes hunters’ prey — and James’ “#FreeRayshawn,” the tense story of a man set up by police in New Orleans.

The actors say nothing on their Quibi film sets was different from being on a regular Hollywood one, with no dilution of quality or corners cut. “You wouldn’t have done anything different on a project that is shot for the theaters,” says Waltz.

Waltz’s show has 16 episodes and with each running about 10 minutes, the total entertainment time of “Most Dangerous Game” is what you’d find at any film at the cineplex. It’s just in chunks.

“It would be a movie if you string them together except for the fact that they employed additional nifty, crafty dramatic twists and turns to chain the individual portions together,” he says.

James was attracted to his Quibi show because it tackled race and policing in a very current way — telling the story of a black man framed by cops, with references to Black Lives Matter and a nod to the power of social media.


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