By Liz Shannon Miller
Written in three days, shot in five? Sounds like a pretty labor-intensive short video. But that was the production schedule for the almost-80 minute iSteve, produced by Funny or Die and starring Justin Long as Steve Jobs and Jorge Garcia as Steve Wozniak.
iSteve, a parody biopic about the legendary founder of Apple Computer, arrived on the Internet late Tuesday night, and has since racked up over 300,000 views — not bad for the site’s first web-released feature film, which, let’s say, “loosely depicts” iconic moments in Jobs’ evolution, from his early meetings with Wozniak and Bill Gates to receiving his first black turtleneck.
iSteve’s rushed production schedule came down to two factors: the looming threat of other biopics like the Ashton Kutchner-starring Jobs, and Long’s schedule.
“We only had a few days to shoot with Justin Long, which works for us because Funny or Die works on small budgets and tight schedules,” producer Allison Hord said via email.
According to Hord, the inspiration for creating a full-length Steve Jobs parody biopic came from “a few joke pitches after we decided to make a fake trailer for another Steve Jobs biopic.”
But the real luck came in the casting of Long, forever tied to the Apple brand after having personified Macs in the iconic Mac vs. PC ads.
“He was our first choice… he’s great at comedy and drama and we needed an actor who could pull off both for this project,” Hord said.
Plus, the casting gives iSteve an additional meta twist, when Jobs (as played by Long) gets the opportunity during a commercial shoot to berate “Justin Long” (played by Anthony Gloe, recognizable from the first season of Video Game High School).
Despite being largely shot inside Funny or Die’s Hollywood offices (with one day at a house and garage), iSteve manages an impressive sense of scale. Whether you find it funny or not is subjective (like most comedies), though as a former Silicon Valley resident I personally appreciated the description of Mountain View, CA as “it’s, um, in the Los Altos area, near San Francisco — um, it’s the Bay Area, generally.”
But for director Ryan Perez, that’s part of the joke. “Some of the more literal-minded tech writers can’t stand the film, which is hilarious and exactly what we expected,” he said via email.
iSteve isn’t written by Aaron Sorkin or shot on location around the world, but the basic fact of its (pretty silly) existence is an impressive thing. “We honestly thought it would be funny to show how quickly a Hollywood-style, inaccurate biopic could be done,” Hord noted.
“We’re thrilled with how quickly viewers have adapted to an unconventional narrative, especially coming from a place where they’re not used to seeing long-form content. It’s actually quite surprising because iSteve is a prickly pear,” Perez added.
When it came to plans for monetizing the film — despite costing “in the thousands,” iSteve didn’t even utilize a pre-roll ad — all Hord would say was “Stay tuned — more to come.”
Meanwhile, Perez said that the film would be considered a success “if we don’t have to give any refunds.”