Ivan and Jason Reitman direct Apple's sweet (and surprising) holiday ad

Fresh off 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' the father-and-son duo teamed on latest 'Shot on iPhone' spot

Published On
Nov 24, 2021

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The arrival of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” in theaters has put father-and-son Hollywood talents Ivan and Jason Reitman in the spotlight, but there’s another big project they united on this year: Apple’s holiday ad. 

The Oscar-nominated pair teamed up to helm "Saving Simon," the brand’s story of an endearing little girl, Olive, who doesn’t want to part with her snowman buddy, Simon, even when the chilly season is over. 

The three-minute spot, set to the track “You and I” by Valerie June, follows the girl as she tries to keep her frosty friend alive all year-round. First, she saves him from her brother, who turns the family of snowpeople in the front yard into soccer practice. She then tucks Simon into the kitchen freezer, where she’s vigilant about keeping him safe from Dad eating ice cream and collisions with boxes of frozen food. She even manages to take Simon on a camping trip, stashing him into the cooler. Although Simon’s twig hair falls off and his smile starts to droop throughout the year, he remains a content creature in the care of his friend. 

Finally, as winter comes around again, the girl excitedly frees Simon from his cubby and replaces him in a place of pride on the lawn—we won’t spoil it, but the ending is a bit of a jolt

Though the Reitmans worked together on the new “Ghostbusters” film, which son Jason helmed and father Ivan produced, the Apple ad marks the first time the two have teamed together as directors. Apple worked with TBWA/Media Arts Lab on the ad, which was produced out of Bob Industries. 

As with other “Shot on iPhone” ads, there isn’t a product shot in sight. Rather, the promotion is in the filmmaking itself. The Reitmans and cinematographer James Whitaker shot the entire film on the iPhone 13 Pro, utilizing its Macro and Cinematic modes, consumer-grade apps and lenses, practical effects and DIY camera rigs. 


A 60-second version of the ad will run on broadcast and digital, and the three-minute version seen here is running on YouTube. Shorter 6- and 15-second cuts will appear on digital and social. A behind-the-scenes film (above) will run on YouTube alongside the ad and on Apple’s Instagram account.

“This is the greatest moment of all time to want to be a filmmaker,” said Jason Reitman in the behind-the-scenes film. “If you want to write stories, you pick up a pencil. If you want to write songs, you pick up a guitar. And if you want to make movies now you can just pick up an iPhone.”