Apple’s Chinese New Year film, 2020

Apple’s 2020 Chinese New Year film is 7-and-a-half minutes long!

The length of the film first dissuaded me from even starting the video, but I persisted. I’m glad I did! It’s a simple, lovely film about 3 generations of women in a family, coming together on Chinese New Year day (January 25, 2020).

A few other observations:

1/ There’s not a single shot of an iPhone or any Apple product anywhere in the ad!

2/ The lead actor is a taxi driver (played by one of China’s leading actors, Zhou Xun). And her taxi is decidedly old-fashioned – is not part of any app-based cab-hailing company and she scouts for passengers the old-fashioned way… by waiting for them in crowded places! There was an opportunity to showcase the product in context, but the film doesn’t take that route! Is it likely because the product may be too expensive for a cab driver in China? I don’t know.

3/ There are some laugh-out-loud moments, like at 3:08. Very nice touch, that!

4/ There is not even a passing mention of the father. No background photo, no mention – nothing! Even the girl’s mother doesn’t seem particularly concerned about that. Refreshingly independent!

5/ There are some glorious night-shots, which are obviously showcased to demonstrate the product! The idea was to showcase the phone’s ability to handle low light, its stabilization capabilities, and the triple camera setup. Apple has released a separate behind-the-scenes video (making of the film) to show us more of how the phone was used to shoot the film. The film is incidentally directed by Theodore Melfi, director of the 2017 film, Hidden Figures, for which he received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

6/ Including the end credits, the video is 8-minutes+! That’s a short film and less of an ad film! This is in line with Apple’s earlier Chinese New Year films anyway.

7/ The idea here (and of the earlier films – see below) seems to be to replicate Apple’s photo-based billboard idea that has a single, sweeping photo that has only one line – ‘Shot on iPhone’. But, can you compare a single photo with a video of this nature and expect people to be equally/similarly impressed? A photo is a single shot, but a video of this nature is a lot more complex, involving multiple kinds of talents and faculties. It is an impressive showcase of the full potential of the device, no doubt, but the output is not as simple and linear as a single shot.

The 2019 film was 5-and-a-half minutes without the end credits. This film too had zero shots of the product. There was no context to showcase the phone either! The Bucket:

The 2018 film was called ‘Three Minutes’, but ran for 6-minutes+ without the end credits. This film used the context of the phone towards the end, besides using the phone to shoot the film itself. The photos at the end of the reunion are shot on an iPhone and made contextual sense too.

“Three Minutes” — A Short Film by Peter Chan

“Three Minutes” — A Short Film by Peter Chan — Apple If your family reunion only lasts three minutes, what will you do?A unique Chinese New Year story shot on iPhone X by director Peter Chan.

Posted by Falcon Tech KH on Sunday, 27 January 2019

At some point in 2025, I think we may see a full-fledged 1-and-a-half hour feature film made by Apple under the ‘Shot on iPhone’ series… which may premiere on Apple TV+, obviously.