Music legend Dolly Parton is going to contribute four original songs to the independent film, Olive, the first feature film shot entirely on a cell phone.
Olive is the story of a little girl who changes the lives of three people, all without speaking a word. It also stars two-time Academy Award nominee Gena Rowlands
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Although Olive was shot entirely on a Nokia N8 camera (which at the time was the only full 1080p cell phone camera on the market), the film doesn't have a "cell phone video" look.
Co-directors Hooman Khalili and Pat Gilles retrofitted 35mm lens from a film camera from the 1940s and placed it atop the sensor on the N8. This allowed the directors to have full control over depth-of-field and other focal controls essential to creating a great looking motion picture.
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You can watch the first five minutes of the film below, to see just how good the video is.
Dolly Signs On
I had the opportunity to see the film two weeks ago, at a private screening in New York City, and walked away from the film truly impressed. I wasn't the only one.
Khalili spoke at METal International earlier this year in an effort to promote the film. That led to a chance encounter with Dolly Parton. After watching Olive, Parton was so impressed, she committed to writing four original songs for the film.
The songs were recorded at Kent Wells Studios just outside Nashville earlier this month.
It's looking like the songs might be released alongside Parton's upcoming memoir which is set for release later this year.
From Democratized Filmmaking to Democratized Distribution
For the team behind Olive, Parton's support is an affirmation of the idea that filmmaking and film distribution can be democratized.
Khalili told me that part of the impetus in deciding to use a cell phone, rather than a traditional digital video camera, for the project was to save cost. For an aerial shot, the small size of the phone's camera allowed the shot to be done atop a remote controlled helicopter, rather than from a real helicopter which could cost thousands of dollars.
The next step is distribution. The Olive producers -- which include former-Facebook executive Chris Kelly -- are actively speaking with a number of studios and distribution shops to get the film out to viewers.
After seeing the film, I think it's target audience is likely women and families. I see it playing very well in middle America and on the Hallmark Channel or other family outlets.
The Olive team wants to make the film available in a video-on-demand basis, ideally partnering with Vudu and Walmart for distribution. We think this approach would make sense both in terms of the audience and as a way to showcase the power of digital distribution.
The Modern Independent Film
In the age of Kickstarter, digital distribution and low-cost/high-quality video sensors, the world of independent filmmaking has drastically changed.
Back in December, Ed Burns told me that Twitter has fundamentally changed the way he makes films.
Khalili feels similarly about the broader social and digital worlds. Digital allowed him to not only make the film for less money, but the promotion of the film has afforded him with opportunities that would otherwise be impossible for smaller filmmakers to take on.
"It's ultimately all about the story," Khalili told me. "The technology just helps us tell that story more fluidly."
What do you think about this new era of independent film? Let us know in the comments.
Photo courtesy of Kent Wells Studios
This story originally published on Mashable here.