The most amazing thing about OLIVE, a feature-length film by Director Hooman Khalili, is not that it had a limited theatrical release in southern California in December 2011. Or that the cast includes two-time Oscar nominee, Gena Rowlands, and Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of the founder of Facebook. Or that Khalili, and Co-Director, Pat Gilles, obtained $500,000 in independent financing from former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer, Chris Kelly, and San Francisco businessman, Bill O’Keeffe and produced OLIVE completely outside the traditional studio system.
While all of those things are feats to be admired, the most truly amazing thing about OLIVE is that it was shot completely on a Nokia N8 smartphone …
Khalili and Gilles chose the Nokia N8 because the camera is lightweight, comes with Zeiss optics and can capture high resolution video. It’s a great camera, as smartphone cameras go, but does have some limitations for filmmakers, like auto-focus and auto-zoom. Here’s where Khalili and Gilles got clever and hacked the N8 to disable these features. Not only that, but they fitted the N8 with a 35mm lens adapter for depth of field and the prism from an old Hasselblad camera for an eyepiece so they could watch the smartphone footage right-side up.
According to Elizabeth Gettleman in an article on www.motherjones.com,
“Each day before shooting (28 total days), Gilles spent an hour affixing the hacked phone to the hacked lens using three-quarter-inch double-sided tape (hardware-store standard issue, one roll). Oh, and he used “toothpicks and little pieces of paper to shim the camera on the fly and in the field …”
The filmmakers raced to get OLIVE into theaters before year-end in the hopes of getting an Oscar nomination this year.
OLIVE is the story of a young girl who never speaks but manages to change the lives of three people anyway. To view the first five minutes of the film and a short behind-the-scenes video see www.olivethemovie.com.
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