Olive – The First Cinema Film Shot with a Cell Phone

It had to happen sooner or later. Olive is the world’s first feature film of cinematic-quality to be shot using a smartphone. The film was released in Santa Monica’s Nuart Theatre this week.

Olive is the first film of director Hooman Khalili. He shot the entire film with the Nokia N8 smartphone, which has a high-resolution camera. The camera was adapted with a 35-mm lens to give the film additional depth. The project was quite low on budget, costing just $500,000. It was partly funded by Chris Kelly, a Silicon Valley attorney and former Facebook executive. According to Kelly, films that are shot using smartphones are important because they give everyone access to creating high-quality content. In this context, Olive may just have marked the beginning of a change in the way the film industry functions. Kelly points out that with this kind of film-making, big studios wouldn’t control the industry anymore, and the very pricing and economics of making a film could change.

I haven’t watched the film, only a video of the first five minutes. And I must say that I’m impressed. Olive is by all means a film of Hollywood quality. It tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who is from another world, and doesn’t seem to speak a word. Not initially, at least. She arrives on Earth and plays an important part in the lives of three people – an obese man, an old and bitter woman, and a foreigner adjusting to life in the US – transforming them for the better. Golden Globe award-winning actress Gena Rowlands plays the role of the old woman. Making a cameo appearance in the film is Randi Zuckerberg, former Head of Communications at Facebook. Interesting, how many ex-Facebook-ers are involved in the project.

A behind the scenes video reveals how the Nokia N8 phone was used to shoot the movie from various angles. The phone was basically plastered to various moving objects, such as slider bars, suction cups, even motorcycles and model helicopters. The project was completed in 22 days of shooting and 3 months of editing. With the exception of the camera, the movie was made like any other film. Olive looks like a movie that returns to simpler times, the narrative seems very rustic and real. It certainly could change the way in which movies are made in the coming years.


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