Rob McElhenney Shares Details on Upcoming 'Mythic Quest' Quarantine Episode Shot on iPhones

Apple on Friday will release a special quarantine episode of "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet," which the cast and crew shot using iPhones. Ahead of the premiere of the episode, show creator and star Rob McElhenney did an interview with The Hollywood Reporter where he shared some details on how the filming was done.


According to McElhenney, he came up with the idea for the quarantine episode three weeks ago when bored while stuck at home. He pitched the idea to his bosses at Apple, who were "immediately on board." Apple's Cupertino team sent 40 new iPhones and 20 sets of earbuds later that same week, and McElhenney teamed up with David Hornsby (who also stars in the show) and Megan Ganz (the show's co-creator) to write the episode.

It took just three weeks to write the script, shoot the new episode, edit it, and get it ready to air. Despite the short filming time, the producers at Apple liked the episode so much that it's being submitted it for Emmy consideration. "It happened very, very fast," said McElhenney.

It was important for the episode to "feel like it was a shared experience" without recycling content. "We knew right away that we can't just get away with doing Zoom jokes for 30 minutes," said McElhenney. It was also important to get the episode out while it was still something that was going on in the moment, and McElhenney was surprised Apple agreed to the concept.

Honestly, I thought they were probably going to say no because it's just technically difficult. There are a few shows that subsequently have come out. Parks and Rec had not [aired] when we conceived of this, but I found out that Mike [Schur] was doing it, and I called him and asked him a bunch of questions. I thought, "If we're going to do it, I'd like it to look and feel as if this was a creative choice, not a choice that was created by limitation." That's what Apple responded to. Once I walked them through it, we shot a little test and said, "This is what it could look like and sound like and feel like." They pulled the trigger, and we got to work.

All of the actors in the show were forced to get into the "minutia" of details they're not normally concerned with. There were no people on hand for filming, no makeup artists, no hairstylists, no one to adjust the sound, and so on. Everyone had to consider lenses, applications, sound quality, frame rate, and other aspects of filming that actors normally don't do.

During filming, the crew used Zoom to communicate, with five to 45 people on the call depending on the scene or situation. Each actor had three iPhones, and one iPhone was used at a time. After a scene wrapped, the phone was sterilized, packaged, put in a secure area, picked up by a courier, brought to the editorial team, sterilized again, and then footage was uploaded for the editors who were working from home. When asked why three iPhones were used, this is what McElhenney had to say:

To get [footage] through to editorial as fast as possible, because we wanted to get this episode done and out while we were still in quarantine. The way we'd do each scene is they'd take their laptop/desktop cameras that you would see normally for a teleconferencing thing and they'd put the iPhone directly in front of that camera, so I essentially had video village from my house. I could see what every actor's camera is picking up and you could also see the readings for the audio. Mike, the cinematographer, could double check all the settings and make sure that everything was running at the right revolution, frame rate, etc. Then we would run the scene, and the actors would be talking to one another the same way we're talking right now [by phone], through our AirPods.

The quarantine episode of "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" features pandemic-related plotlines such as Poppy struggling with forced solitude and C.W. struggling with teleconferencing technology, while Ian Grimm, in his lavish house, has a hard time understanding everyone else's struggles.

There's also a storyline about a charitable donation, which is being replicated in real life, with the show raising $600,000 to date for the global NGO Mercy Corps COVID-19 relief program. The episode will air this Friday.

Top Rated Comments

tharitm Avatar
35 months ago
The way we'd do each scene is they'd take their laptop/desktop cameras that you would see normally for a teleconferencing thing and they'd put the ‌iPhone‌ directly in front of that camera
so even Apple knows they have potato cameras on their Macs.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The_Joker13 Avatar
35 months ago
Good lord. Really don’t understand the hate in some of the comments. I think it’s a pretty damn cool idea and am looking forward to more mythic quest.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Art Mark Avatar
35 months ago
I enjoyed that show. Watched it all in a sitting or two. Looking forward to more.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macfacts Avatar
35 months ago
The "shot on iPhone" idea

"He pitched the idea to his bosses at Apple, who were "immediately on board." Apple's Cupertino team sent 40 new iPhones and 20 sets of earbuds later that same week,"
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
btbeme Avatar
35 months ago
I detest watching TV. Haven't watched more than 5 minutes at a time in the last 11 years. For real.

But I watched the first episode of Mythic Quest while trapped at a friend's house. Pretty funny and quite smart.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TrowaNY Avatar
35 months ago
Episode 5 is the one that should be submitted for Emmy consideration. It was so good ?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.3 With Security Keys for Apple ID, New HomePod Support, Bug Fixes and More

Monday January 23, 2023 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 16.3, the third major update to the iOS 16 operating system that first came out in September. iOS 16.3 comes over a month after the launch of iOS 16.2, an update that added the Freeform app, Apple Music Sing, Advanced Data Protection, and more. iOS 16‌.3 can be downloaded on eligible iPhones and iPads over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update....
iOS 16

iOS 16.3 for iPhone Launching Next Week With These 4 New Features

Friday January 20, 2023 11:43 am PST by
In a recent press release, Apple confirmed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week. The software update will be available for the iPhone 8 and newer and includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped bigger features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for Apple ID accounts, worldwide ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Expected Later This Year With These 7 Exclusive Features

Tuesday January 24, 2023 4:53 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least seven exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the seven features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
watchOS 9 Feature

Apple Releases watchOS 9.3 With New Watch Face, Bug Fixes

Monday January 23, 2023 10:06 am PST by
Apple today released watchOS 9.3, the third major update to the watchOS 9 operating system that first launched in September. watchOS 9.3 comes over a month after watchOS 9.2, an update that added new Workout functionality and Crash Detection optimizations. watchOS 9.3 can be downloaded for free through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone by opening it up and going to General > Software Update. ...
iPhone trade in

Apple Adjusts Trade-In Values for iPhones, Macs, and More

Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:40 am PST by
After announcing new Mac and HomePod models last week, Apple adjusted its trade-in values for select devices in the United States. iPhone trade-in values decreased by up to $80, and most Android smartphones also went down. Mac trade-in values remained unchanged or increased by up to $40 depending on the model, while some Apple Watch models increased in value and others decreased. Trade-in...
Ventura Macs Feature Blue

Apple Releases macOS Ventura 13.2

Monday January 23, 2023 10:09 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Ventura 13.2, the second major update to the macOS Ventura operating system initially released in October. macOS Ventura 13.2 comes more than a month after macOS Ventura 13.1, an update that added the Freeform app and other changes. The ‌macOS Ventura‌ 13.2 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
Mac mini M2 2023

New 256GB Mac Mini and 512GB MacBook Pro Have Slower SSD Speeds Than Previous Models

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:11 pm PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M2 chip has a lower $599 starting price, the base model with 256GB of storage has slower SSD read and write speeds compared to the previous-generation model with the M1 chip and 256GB of storage. A teardown of the new Mac mini shared by YouTube channel Brandon Geekabit reveals that the 256GB model is equipped with only a single 256GB storage chip, while the...
apple tv 4k red image

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3

Tuesday January 24, 2023 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released tvOS 16.3, the third major point update to the tvOS 16 operating system that originally came out in September. Available for the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, tvOS 16.3 comes six weeks after tvOS 16.2, an update that added Apple Music Sing. The tvOS 16.3 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the ‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌ by going to System > Software...