iPhone Film festival iPhones News Smartmoviemakers, , , , , , , — March 6, 2012 17:50 — 0 Comments

Is this the world’s first iPhone film?

happenstance, iphone 3G, vimeo, iphone film festival, smartphone

A scene from Happenstance, shot on an iPhone 3G, and possibly the first film to be made on a smartphone

Made in 2009 on an iPhone 3G by Canadian Ken Simpson, Happenstance has a strong case of being the very first film to be shot on Apple’s smartphone.

If so, it’s a coup for the iPhone Film Festival (IFF), who are showing Happenstance in its 2012 event, which takes place online in April.

IFF founder Ruben Kazantsev told smartmoviemaking.com:  “I know you have heard all the claims, people saying the world’s first iPhone film. The truth is, this is the world’s first iPhone film. It was shot on a 3G and if you remember 3G did not have video, so he jailbroke the phone to run the Cycorder app. The quality isn’t very good, granted, but the fact he did it is amazing!”

In his production notes Simpson says he used Netatalk to access the root directories of the iphone in order to pull the footage off the phone. He then converted the footage to 29.97 Apple Prores files and edited the video in FCP in a 16×9 timeline — cutting off the top and bottom of the original 4×3 footage but allowing him to reposition if needed.

“I found that using the audio from the reverse angles was considerably better than using the audio from the actual subject I was shooting. For example, most of Anthony’s final dialogue was taken from Saffron’s close ups and vice versa,” Simpson says. “Given the source’s low resolution, slow shutter and wild frame rates I doubt that most people could telltherewereanylip-synchingissues.”

Simpson also has his finger right on the button when he describes the joy of filming on his smartphone.

“Shooting with the iPhone was a really liberating experience,” he says, “since I knew from the go that visual fidelity wasn’t paramount. I was able to let go and just experiment with the angles and freedom of locations … I would’ve been stopped immediately if I tried to board a street car filming with my bulky XL-1.”

Sure, Happenstance is primitive when you consider the type of films being made today on the iPhone 4S and Nokia N8, but even so it showed early potential for smart moviemaking. In three years we have come a long way, imagine the picture three years from now?

Anyone got any predictions?

Meanwhile, the IFF has also uncovered what it believes is the world’s first iPhone music video, I Need Mo, by rap artist Paul Wall.


Shot in July 2009 on an iPhone GS, the production quality on this video rocks, mainly because there is a budget and a professional crew behind it.

The producer, Ron Finberg, and director of photography, Barry Stickland, give a fascinating insight into the making of I Need Mo, that is well worth watching. They certainly pushed the first iPhone to its limits, in one shoot the smartphone overheats and switches off.

But everyone working on the video agreed that using the iPhone made them, well, think differently. I’m sure Steve Jobs would be proud.

• Deadline for submissions to the 2012 iPhone Film Festival is 28 April, see website for details.

Stay Smart | subscribe to our weekly newsletter

About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

Comments are closed.

Pass it on