Saturday, 15 September 2007

Mobile Movie Festivals

October 31, 2007 is the deadline for the Toronto Mobifest, you can rush over straight to the pdf guidelines and entry form, and submit your film in a variety of formats.

Making movies for the smallest of the silver screens is the next generation of portable distribution, alright, it is the current generation, but perhaps we are still too overwhelmed with multimedia technology to draw in a wider enough audience from one type of technology. For instance MP4 players are trying to hit that happy medium of a screen that is big enough for a comfortably pleasurable viewing experience as well as targeting mostly the DVD market, and ipods are coming in from the music side of things, whilst mobile phones are predominately communication based. It's a confusing distribution market at times, and that's why I always recommend doing your distribution plans and trying to cover all areas before you launch your film. The majority of exposure you are going to get can all be garnered with a little foot work and the cost of a few beers, pints that is, and a good old festival entry hang-over.

However, the mobile phone market has almost had the headway, and the reason for this is because of the MMS functionality and it being a communication device making connectivity its main objective. The problem for underground filmmakers is that on the most part mobile carriers are restrictive in their content, so using the Internet back door might just be the way to get you movies circulating sites and Bluetoothed or WAP'd. My short mobile movie would never have passed censorship and I found this out the hard way by trawling through Internet sites that had the small print telling me my work would be objected to if obscene. So, I uploaded it to a file hosting service and using the way of the widget I plugged it across Myspace and Blogs, emailed it to friends, and was happy to hear that it started circulating - because once one person has it on their mobile phone consider that they may possibly then send that clip to three of their friends who will send it to any number of their friends, and so the exposure increases.

Even so, read the guidelines carefully and don't waste time registering to sites that afterwards your film is pulled for violating content restrictions.

So what constitutes a mobile movie? A film made for the mobile phone at this stage of our technological development should be as short as possible, one minute or under is a good bracket for duration. This keeps the file size low making downloading, or sending to other phones less expensive and more capable - the shorter you go means also the higher resolution you can maintain. Text and images should be reasonably big, that is close-up, rather then expansive shots with a lot happening far away. The clever thing to do would be to consider re-editing your short film for the mobile phone, making some tweaks to the title and credit fonts, and shot usage. That plan works in the same way porn industries r-rated and x-rated themes go, one for hotel room channels and the other adult theaters.

Treo Film in Los Angeles also runs a comedy mobile phone festival offering up $5000 for best film of the festival. Not sure if this one has an entry fee or not. They require you to register to the site in order to get the submission info. I didn't bother. I think the deadline is well and truly dead on this one until next year. Bookmark their page though, if you want to keep an eye on it.

Third Screen Film Festival runs out of Hollywood, the difference being is that it is a wireless festival watched by thousands of mobile phone freaks all over North America. Deadline is September 30th. There is no entry fee and you can upload or send your film. The info page is linked here. Films must be suitable for a general audience - I'll have to sit this one out until the rest of the world catches up I think.

Shorts Non-Stop is another mobile movie festival, running from Canada, I believe there is no entry fee. Deadlines is October 5th, so you can whizz your film straight in by uploading it.

Portable Film Festival delivers its content completely Online and distributes the selected films via portable media devices. You can read a little about the festival here and send them an email requesting updates for the next big ... err ... small event.

Very Short Movies Festival out California way runs its program on a quarterly basis, so you may just be in time for quarter three and four. They charge a fee of $45 US and that grows the later you are with submitting. These guys go through Withoutabox, but my opinion of Withoutabox is that although you get a flurry of festivals delivered to your inbox and complete ease of registration, the cost involved is ridiculous for any underground filmmaker. These festivals rake in big bucks and you only have to look at the majority of filmmakers whose entries wouldn't make a damn difference to their careers - yet some of the free festivals pull just as big crowds.

Later down the track I'll post on some websites that host mobile phone content. There is a about a week to go before MUFF swings into action, I just got my 16mm footage back from a short film I shot called "Errol Flynn's Pianist" - I'm very excited to get editing on it. I shot it on black and white reversal, it will only be a one minute film, and my next small production I'm loading up double 8mm stock for, which will be a test shoot for a much larger project.

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