First iPhone Movie Applies for SAG Contract (Exclusive)

8:00 AM PST 12/05/2013 by Tim Appelo
"Ode"

Shirley Knight is attached to the project, "Ode," from producer/director Brian Kowalchuk.

Writer/director/producer Brian Kowalchuk is planning to shoot a film, a comedy/drama called Ode, on an iPhone, under a SAG-AFTRA Ultra Low Budget production contract.

"It's the first strictly narrative full-length feature film, a union film, to be shot with the iPhone 5s," Kowalchuk said. Though SAG cannot confirm that no other iPhone film project can claim to precede Kowalchuck's, SAG-AFTRA's Charlesetta Raymond said, "I am unaware of any other iPhone films applying [to be SAG signatories]."

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Kowalchuk has attached to the project two-time Oscar nominee Shirley Knight (As Good As It GetsSweet Bird Of Youth) in the lead female role as a troubled literature prof's mom; Charles Matthau (producer/director of Freaky Deaky and Palm Springs fest audience prizewinner The Grass Harp) as her small-town doctor; and Man in the Chair producer Randy Turrow, chairman of DGA's Mentor Committee, as producer/unit production manager.

The 22-day production is slated to start filming June 2, with hopes of an April 2015 release date."We have enough financing to start shooting right now," Kowalchuk said, "but we are seeking further financing."

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"The resolution needs to be bumped up about 5 percent for theatrical release," says Kowalchuk of the prospects of shooting a theatrical feature on an iPhone. "I look forward to the challenges of making this film with the iPhone 5s," says Turrow. "We will no doubt encounter obstacles, but it will also be exciting and on the forefront of what is happening today with digital technology. It's also great that we are going to produce this motion picture locally with low budget tiered union contracts."

"The few technical challenges of filming with the iPhone 5s are being addressed and communications are in process with senior Apple executives with regards to addressing these challenges," Kowalchuk added.

"I’m excited to be part of Brian’s film, and support his vision," Matthau said.

In 2013, two movies partly shot on iPhones earned kudos: Oscar-winning doc Searching for Sugar Man and Iranian director Jafar Panahi's This Is Not a Film, voted best experimental film by the National Society of Film Critics.

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