Two years ago, when Alice radio DJ Hooman Khalili typed “feature film shot on cell phone” into Google, nothing came up—so he got inspired. He bought himself a Nokia N8, which the company touts as “the best camera phone in the world,” convinced former Facebook exec Chris Kelley and prominent local businessman Bill O’Keeffe to pony up $400,000, got a hacker to disable the phone’s zoom and autofocus, and stuck on a 35mm lens with double-stick tape. Then Gena Rowlands signed on (as did a few locals, including the lead actress, Ruby Alexander, and Randi Zuckerberg, Mark’s sister, in a cameo), and Khalili made Olive, the world’s very first feature film shot on a cell phone.
Cute vanity project? Maybe, but the movie, about a young girl who doesn’t speak but nevertheless has a profound effect on three people’s lives, has already been screened in two theaters near Los Angeles. “We skipped all the film festivals and went straight to the theater,” Khalili says. “It’s kind of unheard of in Hollywood.” The movie also survived an initial qualifying round for the Academy Awards—how cool is that?—as did its theme song, “Imaginary Friends,” in the Best Original Song category.