Digital News Smartmoviemakers, , , , , , , , , — March 13, 2012 12:01 — 0 Comments

Rideshare: the first full-length feature shot on an iPhone

rideshare, iphone film, feature, filmmaking, micro-budget

Rideshare, starring Susan Isaacs, Narisa Suzuki and Ryan Fox, filmed on the road and on an iPhone 4S

Rideshare was made for the iPhone. It is also the world’s first full-length feature film shot entirely on the HDiPhone, says producer/director Donovan Cook.

With a running time of just under 1:20mins he reckons Rideshare is the first iPhone film to break the barrier, and he could  be right. We took a sneak preview of the whole of the movie and were suitably impressed. It will be a ground-breaking film, of that there is no doubt.

Rideshare was shot on a budget of $34K and is a comedy about three, down and out, complete strangers who answer a Craigslist-like add to drive a car from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. As these unlikely companions bumble their way coast-to-coast, across the US, they record their epic, heartfelt adventure using iPhones.

While revolutionary and experimental (shot completely on iPhones) the feature film is typical micro-budget fodder, ie small cast, few locations and an improvised script.

What is also impressive is how the iPhone handles not only the close-upshots(in the car) but how it also captures brilliantly the vast landscape of the US as we follow the characters on their crazy roadtrip.

“The entire film is performed improv,” says Cook. “We started with a story outline written by me then each scene was written as we shot, through collaboration between the cast members and myself. There were a lot of great surprises.”

The iPhone was a natural choice for the shoot becuase the characters are supposed to be filming their trip — it’s written in the contract when they pick up the car from the owner.

“My intention is that the audience quickly forget that they are watching the first full-length feature film shot with a phone because they get so wrapped up in the characters and their story,” says Cook.

Wearing his producer’s hat, Cook bought five iPhone 4Ss the day they came out, and because the shoot took less than 30 days he returned two of the devices and got a refund! Smart.

“We drove from Los Angeles to Washington DC in seven days mostly along the old Route 66 and shot an average of three to four scenes a day along the way. We had two PAs with us who were supposed to do all the driving, but in the end, everyone including the cast chipped in to do some driving to keep us on schedule,” says Cook.

“We photographed everything with the iPhones but the phone’s sound recording quality is not good enough to make a movie so we set up a custom sound recording system. Each actor was rigged with a hidden mic that was wired directly into a small digital recorder, (called a Zoom H4N) that fit in their back pockets – although often the little recorders wound up actually tucked into the back of their pants so they were not visible on camera.”

To keep up with the frenetic schedule Cook says he download the days dailies onto his Apple MacBook Pro laptop and edited in Final Cut Pro. “Most if not all of the post sound recording and editing was done on Apple computers, ” he says.

Cook says he was inpsired by Georg Lucas’s early work on American Graffiti, along with other great directors such as Robert Rodriguez, Spike Lee, Robert Townsend and Kevin Smith. “All these filmmakers found a way to make great films despite financial and technical limitations.”

He wanted to join that club, he says, and Rideshare may well be his calling card. “I also wanted to make a film that would be experimental on multiple fronts: improv; constructing a story that was shot completely from the p.o.v. of the three main characters and was literally shot by the cast while they performed. Shooting with the iPhone and figuring out how to pull off everything on a micro-budgetwasan amazing creative challenge. I wanted to push the film to be as entertaining and compelling as possible within all these extreme limitations.”

So far, Rideshare has been entered into the Ventura Film Festival, Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, Port Townsend Film Festival and was noimnated winner in the Best Performance in and Experimental Film category of the Los Angeles New Wave Film Festival. Rideshare also won the Gold Kahuna Award Honolulu Film Awards.

At present the complete movie is not available online, but the trailer has been entered into the iPhone Film Festival. A roadtrip with a difference? You bet.

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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.

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