Apple is eager to spin the iPhone Pro 13 as a professional-grade filmmaking device — and as part of that effort, the tech giant enlisted Ivan and Jason Reitman for its 2021 holiday commercial, marking the father and son’s first co-directing collaboration.
The “Saving Simon” commercial, a tale involving a little girl’s heroic efforts to preserve her snowman (with a predictably heartstring-tugging final scene), was shot entirely on iPhone Pro 13.
A 60-second version of the commercial will air on broadcast and online TV services, with the full three-minute film on YouTube (watch below or at this link) and 6- and 15-second feature-specific shorts running on digital and social. Apple also is releasing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Saving Simon” on YouTube.
Set to the tune of “You and I” by Valerie June, “Saving Simon” follows a girl who desperately tries to preserve the magic of the holidays all year round. When her snowman begins to melt outside at the turn of the season, she stashes him in her family’s freezer to protect him from the changing weather, periodically checking on him through the year. Winter finally comes around again, and her family helps her bring what is left of the snowman outside. Just as they plant him in front of their home, a kid on a bike accidentally pulverizes the poor snowman to powder. When it looks as if all her efforts were for naught, her family helps her scoop up the pieces and rebuild Simon. The spot ends with the tagline, “To the ones we’ve waited all year to be with.”
The release of “Saving Simon” comes on the heels of the premiere of Jason Reitman’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” a continuation of the franchise whose first two films were directed by Ivan Reitman. The Apple film and the accompanying behind-the-scenes short were shot on the iPhone 13 Pro, using the smartphone’s Macro and Cinematic modes along with consumer-grade apps and lenses, practical effects and a few DIY camera rigs.
“The idea that you can just pick up your phone and start filmmaking is one that thrills me,” Jason Reitman says in the behind-the-scenes feature about “Saving Simon.” Staying on message, he comments on the iPhone Pro: “This storytelling device is just sitting there in your pocket. It gives us a chance to tell stories no matter where you grow up and allows everyone to see stories from other cultures which brings us all closer.”
The spot’s director of photography is James Whitaker (Disney Plus’ “Hawkeye”). It was produced by Bob Industries for agency TBWAMedia Arts Lab.
Watch the full three-minute version of “Saving Simon”: