Ive been thinking a lot about how to keep sane during insane times, the filmmaker Lynn Shelton says, and one of them is to think of ways of being creative.
"I've been thinking a lot about how to keep sane during insane times," she says, "and one of them is to think of ways of being creative." Courtesy of Lynn Shelton

Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 25. Society is at a standstill, the future is a question mark, and many people are out of work. If you happen to have extra time on your hands today: Have you ever thought about becoming a filmmaker?

The filmmaker and TV director Lynn Shelton would like you to know how easy it is to make a movie with the phone in your pocket.

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She had never edited a film on her phone before, but she does it here for the first time. "It's all done on my phone," as she says. "And you can do it too."

Shelton used to live in Seattle and direct movies starring people like Keira Knightley, Emily Blunt, and Allison Janney. Now she lives in Los Angeles and directs shows like Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington (she directed episodes 1, 4, 5, and 8), as well as Marc Maron's new (weirdly prescient) Netflix special End Times Fun.

"I thought I would use this as an excuse to learn a new skill. So the skill I'm going to attempt to teach myself is how to edit movies on my phone," she explains in the video about downloading iMovie onto her phone to create the message you're watching.

She adds, "The other thing that really uplifts me a lot is singing. I was kind of shocked recently to rediscover how many happy hormones flooded my body when I got into a bathtub and I put a song on that is a song that I like to sing to... I sang really loud and I could not believe how my mood just skyrocketed."

Her video today includes friends of hers sending clips of themselves singing, and Shelton edits them together.

For background about Shelton, read this 2008 profile by Annie Wagner, in which Wagner writes that Shelton "confines herself to miniscule budgets, largely pro-bono talent, and picturesque property owned by relatives and friends to stage productions that put risk-taking above commercial appeal. The financial investment may be minimal, but the results are astonishing."

Wagner goes on to observe:

Historically one of the few film-industry jobs available to women, editing is also the only component technique of filmmaking that has no precedent in other art forms. From still photography to theater, film borrows much more than it invents. But fashioning material from a loose, improvisational set into a coherent narrative is an act of authorship, not just assembly. Lynn Shelton's experiments in method are a tribute to the one thing that makes cinema unique.

Thank you so much for experimenting today with all of us, Lynn!

And thank you to everyone—Nancy Guppy, Kevin Murphy, Megan Griffiths, Cat Harris-White, Sandra Brown, Jason Scott Dodson, and Kate Micucci—who made cameos.

Thank you, also, for the reminder of how glorious it is to sing and take baths.

Have a good day at home singing and bathing, everyone.


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Also in this series:


John Rodericks message to the city on April 3.
John Roderick's message to the city on April 3.

Bill Cartys message to the city on April 2.
Bill Carty's message to the city on April 2.

Price Suddarths message to the city on April 1.
Price Suddarth's message to the city on April 1.

Kary Waysons message to the city on March 31.
Kary Wayson's message to the city on March 31.

Ellen Forneys message to the city on March 30.
Ellen Forney's message to the city on March 30.

Major Scaless message to the city on March 29.
Major Scales's message to the city on March 29.

E. J. Kohs message to the city on March 28.
E. J. Koh's message to the city on March 28.

Ken Jenningss message to the city on March 27.
Ken Jennings's message to the city on March 27.

Demarre McGills message to the city on March 26.
Demarre McGill's message to the city on March 26.

Lynn Sheltons Message to the City on March 25th.
Lynn Shelton's Message to the City on March 25th.

Timothy White Eagles message to the city on March 24.
Timothy White Eagle's message to the city on March 24.

Cookie Coutures message to the city on March 23.
Cookie Couture's message to the city on March 23.

Sarah Rudinoffs message to the city on March 22.
Sarah Rudinoff's message to the city on March 22.

John Osebolds message to the city on March 21.
John Osebold's message to the city on March 21.


Ben Gibbards message to the city on March 21.
Ben Gibbard's message to the city on March 20.

Nathan Chans message to the city on March 19.
Nathan Chan's message to the city on March 19.