Our story began long ago from a vision which came about after September 11, 2001. The vision where journalists and filmmakers would use cameras on their phones to share stories. However, it did not take. In 2005 & 2006, Susan Botello began to research the idea of moving the vision forward by creating a film festival to give credibility to the vision. However, the only way to do that considering the quality of phone cameras was not realistic as she wanted to give respect to filmmakers by putting their films on a big screen and rolling out the red carpet for them. So she waited.
Then in 2009, she decided to just do it and launched the festival idea officially. She believed it was just a matter of time before an HD phone camera would be available and she already knew HD cams were "good enough" for a big screen. Just as she began to organize the festival and look for support to find a venue where she could screen films on a big screen, the iPhone 4 arrived giving the world the first HD camera on a phone. Due to the phone being a smartphone she was very optimistic.
The world around her seemed to be skeptical. She was told to just make an "online" film festival but she was unwilling to have her first film festival without providing a venue and a big screen with a red carpet award ceremony. Finally, in 2012 just a few weeks before she thought she may have to postpone the dates again for her festival brand, International Mobil Film Festival™, she found a venue through Grossmont College. With only a few weeks to get everything ready, she was able to pull it off. MFF2012 may have been the first mobile film festival which treated mobile films and filmmakers just as any traditional film festival would do and still does by screening films on a big screen, networking, the red carpet, Q&A and an awards ceremony. It even included a mobile filmmaking workshop.
Some of the filmmakers who attended the festival traveled from Macedonia. Others came from Los Angeles and northern San Diego. During the film festival, an announcement was made that the Mobile Film School, a non-accredited film school for mobile phone filmmaking would also be a part of S. Botello Productons' plan for moving the mobile film industry into a reality.
MFF2012 Attending Filmmakers representing Macedonia, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
In 2016 we made a public announcement that we would experiment accepting "mobile features" between 20-60 minutes in length. After a successful IMFF 2017 we raised the length of a mobile feature film to 40-90 minutes. This is the set standard length of feature films for our film festival. We select no more than three feature films for the feature mobile film competition. The short mobile film competition remains at 1-5 minutes.
Susan believes the push for feature films shot with smartphones by mobile and smartphone film festivals is going to progress mobile filmmaking forward to give the industry more respect and growth.
The sophistication of making mobile features is something she plans to expand as the industry itself expands the growth of mobile filmmaking all around the world. SBP considers what this film festival and others like it have done has been to provide credibility to filmmakers who shoot their films on mobile phones by providing incentive and a venue to compete and for exposure. In 2019 we find other mobile and smartphone film festivals following our lead to accept feature length mobile films.
The short film competition of mobile films is one to five minutes and is an opportunity for all "earthlings" to get a foot in the door of the film industry by sparking creativity and providing the opportunity for exposure to anyone and everyone with a mobile phone of any brand or make. Submissions for the traditional short film competition by the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego is free with a *scholarship so anyone can do it. *See Rules for details.
While other mobile film festivals accept films shot with other devices, IMFF has always narrowed the competition by only accepting films shot with the most popular device in the world regardless of the brand. This provides an equal arena for contestants and at the same time is inclusive to everyone around the world.
We find not everyone has DSLR cameras, iPods, tablets and GoPros. However, everyone has access to smartphones. Therefore, filmmakers using smartphones are only competing with other smartphone cameras and don't need to burden themselves by purchasing other mobile devices. We find, however, that people who have DSLRs and GoPros also have access to smartphones. This is why we focus on smartphone shot films and how we democratize storytellers and filmmakers with our platform as an all inclusive festival for people around the world to share their stories.
For a list of all the official awarded films in our film festival through the years you can visit the Awards Page here.
If you are a journalist and you have a smartphone you may consider submitting to the Journalism and Current Events category of our film festival which was created before MFF2012. We invite journalists to walk the red carpet and include your stories in our film festival. #MOJO (Mobile Journalist).
International Mobile Film Festival has been an IMDb qualifying film festival for a number of years.
Watch our latest promo video sharing the International Mobile Film Festival event in beautiful San Diego at the Marina Village Conference Center.
Our slogan: The red carpet is in your pocket!™
Listen to our podcast hosted by founder Susy Botello since 2017
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