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Real Events Shot On An iPhone Become Fictional Short Film

In Versus Zach NeSmith turns fact into fiction.

Versus (2013) is a short film by Zach NeSmith shot using his iPhone 4S that revives the truthfulness and stylistic techniques of cinéma vérité, blurring the line between fiction and documentary. Footage recorded over two years was edited into a story about a lonely artist and a hard-partying student. “The goal was to create a fictional narrative out of actual footage from my life.” the filmmaker says.


For the past few years people have been creating short—and even feature—films using their smartphones. There’s the iPhone Film Festival and the iPhone Cinema Vimeo channel, both popular platforms for artists and iPhone users to showcase their originality using the shiny touchscreen sitting in your pocket.

But in Versus NeSmith does something different by turning an assortment of real footage from his life into a fictitious story which examines the psychology of Zach, an introverted art student, and highlights the generational reality of college partying. “Working this way presented many creative challenges, difficulties and long-awaited solutions.” says NeSmith. “Using my iPhone 4S to film most of the movie, I was able to shoot easily at any time in any place and had culminated days of footage by the time editing and plot development began.”

Unlike the parodying, fake situations of mockumentaries like This Is Spinal Tap (1984,) or I'm Still Here (2010,) NeSmith leaves the unaltered reality to his iPhone camera, and the fiction to his editing skills. By gathering candid footage he was able to collage home videos and clips of his life to build characters and narratives around the formal qualities of his shots and the opinions and reactions of his friends.

In his look at our society, NeSmith uses the beautiful qualities and improvisational techniques of the cinéma vérité style to tell a story of his own that goes hand-in-hand with our collective reality, and could perhaps signify a new documentary style where imagination has no boundaries.