By Tom Inglesby
Since the earliest days of photography, one of the driving forces has been to make the camera smaller, easier to use, and with more capabilities. The camera obscura was a walk-in room with a pinhole at one end; the Kodak Brownie added film and a lens in a handheld version. Both were simple, but the latter created a world filled with photographers. Everyone was taking pictures.
Motion in photography came about long after still pictures. Cameras to record the moving images were heavy, mounted on sturdy equipment stands and minimally movable themselves. Scenes had to be blocked out carefully so the cameras could be positioned well in advance—hopefully out of sight of one another. By the 1940s, handheld cinema cameras were following the action on battlefields and sports fields, producing images to be seen by millions.
Today’s cine cameras can fit in a shirt pocket, produce digital output at the highest resolution the delivery systems can reproduce. And, once again, everyone is taking pictures—only motion pictures this time.
In keeping with the “smaller, smaller, smallest” trend in everything electronic, the ubiquitous cell phone has become a cine camera. And where there is photography, there are competitions. We are a competitive industry, awards being the proof that what we did, what we created, is accepted by our peers as well as the general public.
Which brings us to the concept of the mobile film festival. Or more accurately, film festivals. They are popping up all over the world, it seems. But let’s focus on the celebration of cell phone cinema right here in the USA, the International Mobil Film Festival being held in April, 2015 in San Diego.
The driving force behind the festival is Susan Botello of S. Botello Productions. She is forming a mobile film resource center for the world to access. “A strong emphasis is on connecting the world of filmmaking to mobile filmmakers around the globe via new technological advances with mobile phone cameras,” she explains. “The purpose of our film festival is not only to create interest and spark creativity in people of all ages with limited income or resources, but to actually inspire creative filmmakers to live up to their potential and realize the opportunity to fulfill their dream. The International Mobil Film Festival is for everyone! All ages welcome.”
The 2015 event will be the fourth and expects to entertain a record number of entries. According to Botello, “Our mobile media film festival will take place in San Diego, where we’ll have a live event venue in which we feature the films competing, film festival partners from around the globe, our global Community Stories program and much more. And all the films will have been shot on mobile phones!”
The festival isn’t the only place for artistic release using a cell phone. Botello also launched Mobile Film Television (MFTV), an online mobile film distribution network back in 2013. The mobile television channel, while still in its infancy, is a venue for mobile filmmakers to distribute their mobile phone films via a channel that will play their short films on just about any device or screen with web access.
“This new medium is ready for filmmakers,” Botello exclaims. “Films will be available around the world from filmmakers around the world. The films can be displayed on screens of any size. We’ll be showcasing them at the International Mobil Film Festival on big screens as well.”
The distribution network is separate from the film festival, although both require that all films are shot on mobile phones. Films for MFTV do not have to be submitted to the film festival and the duration of the films differ. As with any other distribution company, a filmmaker will need to enter into a distribution contract and release their films for distribution by MFTV. There is no limit to how many films a filmmaker can submit for distribution or how many films a particular filmmaker or production company may submit or be distributed.
“The criteria for films is simple, it is strictly for films shot with mobile phones,” says Botello. “We are not seeking just films that are traditionally cinematic. We hope to include quality experimental films from mobile filmmakers. Throughout both the festival and the MFTV channel, production values are important. We want these to be quality films, just shot on mobile phones.”
So if you have a cell phone filled with motion pictures, apply your professional talents to making them into a true “film” and enter the contest. The information is available online, of course, at www.mobilfilmfestival.com. See you—and your cell phone film—in San Diego April 25 and 26, 2015.
* I Am A Camera, 1955, Henry Cornelius, director.