We are all storytellers on a journey. Each moment is a part of our story. Do we begin with this moment or is this the end? Perhaps, this is the climax of our story. If you are thinking movies, then you are on the right track. This journey is the one that began many years ago and began it's popularity around 2010.
Wait, this is not the journey of the film industry...this is the journey of the smartphone filmmaker. It began to gain popularity in the underground world of filmmakers experimenting with the new iPhone 4 that launched with the first High Definition video camera. Soon after that around 2014 Sony launched the first 4K video camera on their smartphone.
You may be involved in the world of mobile filmmaking with smartphone cameras. And if you are, you may find this a bit exciting now that we have arrived at a crossroads in the film industry. If you are an experienced filmmaker you are surely running into many articles about filmmaking which peak your interest. No doubt, you have come across a mention of someone who shot a feature length film with a smartphone. While this was one, then maybe sometime later another. Now you are being hit with these weekly or daily. What is going on? We know we have been pushing and pulling for more people to make feature films. That is what you do when you create a competition, you want people to enter the competition. But we created the competition as a challenge to get more experienced filmmakers to think beyond the short mobile film. Narratives naturally challenge the filmmaker to do their very best. The story is what makes movies compelling and keep our attention, even after the end.
We realized it was just a matter of time before the technology was going to be so good that the attraction would reach experienced filmmakers at about the same time that those who've been making short mobile films have gained experience over the last ten years.
We believe this is the best time for mobile film. Within the next three years we are going to see mobile filmmakers who have been learning over the years by making many short films with smartphones reach a point where they can share the red carpet in our film festival as feature filmmakers with more experienced traditional filmmakers who are just now waking up to make films with smartphones.
It's truly an exciting time for mobile smartphone filmmaking, regardless of wether you use an iPhone or another brand of smartphone.
Would you like to go on a journey with us? We're sharing a number of feature mobile films with you that we have a connection to. We'll also provide the links to our podcast interviews with these filmmakers. We hope you will take time to learn about all the feature films we've had in our film festival. Some have won awards, and some were successful with getting distribution.
We created the competition for feature films in 2016
We have been pushing filmmakers in our community and beyond since 2016 to begin to think seriously about making feature films. We asked for only narrative films beginning with the 2017 edition of our film festival. This was an experiment so we began with 20-40 minute films.
The next year in 2018, we raised the bar from 40 minutes to 90 minutes.
We unfortunately did not receive any feature films, but wait--we did receive an email from a filmmaker who missed the deadline and really wanted to submit his film. He wanted to submit it to a mobile film festival and only found ours that he met the criteria. Out of competition, we invited Brian McLane to come to the festival and bring his 90 minute film, The Killer's Requiem to provide a presentation with actor Tim Russ. Yes, that Tim Russ from Star Trek Voyager. Other actors like Lloyd Kaufman were also in the film. You can listen to one of the earlier SBP Podcast episode 7 for a detailed conversation about how he made the film. He shot the entire film in one iPhone. The same iPhone he brought to the festival and was using as, well you know, a phone. His style was guerilla style. He shot in shopping malls and restaurants, hotels and even dumped a body into the marina and then...well, he shares the story in the podcast. Great stories.
Then there was the 2019 edition of our film festival with Mad House by Ross Perkins. Ross won the Best Festure Film Award in our festival. Mad House was such a feat. Ross wrote and directed the film but this was his first time as a filmmaker. His real job is acting. The actors in the film all gave incredible performances. They easily could have all won acting awards. The story was based on a true story of meth addicts who break into a house and take a family hostage. The real story was more gruesome than Mad House almost 90 minutes, but it was so realistic, when we first got the film we thought perhaps someone committed a crime and had decided to play a sick joke and send it to us as a film. Like the Robert De Niro film, 15 Minutes. You can listen to all the incredible details in episode 45 of the SBP Podcast and then you can listen to more after he won the award in episode 61. As a bonus, listen to Kimberley Hart, the producer, in episode 84, share the inside perspective as her producer role and set designer (which she has professional experience in).
Another feature film, that also screened in our festival in 2019 was Consensus Reality, almost 90 minutes. Shot in New York with experienced actors, Steven Palmer Peterson turned a book which was not a narrative story but a very complex book, into a story and then a screenplay. Steve wrote Assimilate which is still on Netflix which stars very popular teen actors. He writes screenplays professionally and he decided to turn this story into a film by shooting it with an Android smartphone. He had a small crew and in New York, he did not have problems with needing permits as much as he would have in L.A. Consensus Reality is a complex story that keeps you on your toes as the characters are figuring out the "puzzle" so is the viewer. You can watch Consensus Reality on Mobile Film Stories, the first streaming platform for smartphone films and videos without a subscription, as a Pay-Per-View (5-days). And you can also listen to his podcast where he shares details of his filmmaking process in episode 47 of the SBP Podcast. Steve shares some great advice about screenwriting in episode
Blue Moon was one of the first feature films that went viral for the mobile filmmaking community worldwide. Blue Moon reached out to us and we covered them in our podcast and the team became friends of ours. Stef Harris from New Zealand, is a notable storyteller and very good writer. He wrote Blue Moon and hired Mark Hadlow, well known for his role as Dori in The Hobbit, by Peter Jackson. Mark read the screenplay and loved it. So he then contacted Jed Brophy, who played Nori in The Hobbit with Mark, who also loved it. Not to mention how thrilled they were to work together again. Blue Moon was shot in one location, a gas station with a convenience store. The film is intriguing and Jed and Mark's characters carried the story together. A very impressive film! Since then, Jed and Mark have become Honorary Ambassadors to our film festival. They've been trying to make it to San Diego but this global pandemic put a damper on those plans. You can listen to the details in episodes 54 with Stef Harris, 55 with Jed Brophy, 59 with Mark Hadlow, 62 with Ryan O'Rourke shares all the camera details, and 67 with Judd Resnick shares all the editing details in post production.
But wait, there's more! In the 2020 edition of our film festival, Inga Vosk, who had never before directed a film wrote a screenplay and made a feature film, #STEALTH. She realized soon that she needed a team and how important it is to have a team to help you when you are making a feature length film. She was learning along the way which makes the entire film mind-blowing. It was a great story and she shot it in St. Petersburg. But not just in one location, they were all over the city, which is pretty big. She had an ensemble cast of great actors. The dialogue is fluid and the characters worked very well together which keeps the viewer engaged. The film is in Russian with subtitles, and it's streaming now on Mobile Film Stories as a Pay-Per-View (5days). When you begin to watch the film, you forget within seconds, that it was shot with iphones. Listen to Inga Vosk on the SBP Podcast in episode 79 share her filmmaking story from beginning to end.
In 2020 we were also honored to screen Married and Loving It, a feature length film shot in one location depicting several locations. The filmmakers, Ryan McDonald and Brandie Rich made their film using the same filmmaking skills they used making other films. The only difference was that they used an iPhone camera to shoot it. The cast ensemble told a story which had many twists and turns. The film was a unique story with a surprise ending. Listen to episode 77 of the podcast to listen to Ryan and Brandie share a lot of insights to mobile filmmaking and their experience as traditional filmmakers shooting a feature film with the iPhone.
Now that we are in 2021, we are brought to this year's feature films from our film festival's 10 Year Anniversary Edition.
The feature film, Charon by Jennifer Zhang won the Best Feature Film Award. Her notable effort to shoot and act in her film during the pandemic includes just about every role in a crew. She wrote the screenplay, as well. When you see the credits run at the end of the film you will realize all the roles she had to undertake on her own to make the film happen. Perhaps the most notable feat was that she is the first person to have edited the entire film in her iPhone. Yes, that phone you are holding? Imagine editing the entire feature (73 minutes) on that screen. And she did not use a film editing app, either. She used an app that was not designed for films but for social media videos, that happened to have all the elements she needed. Her film made it to Cannes in the film market by Avatar Entertainment, read the Deadline Hollywood article. We wonder if the buyers will realize the world record this film breaks. You can listen to Jennifer Zhang discuss all about her film on the SBP Podcast in episode 94 and special insights in an exclusive podcast episode in our Patreon page as a monthly subscriber for members only.
We don't have a podcast with So Sicily, which was a 40 minute film selected for 2021's feature film competition. But the film had just made it into the competition by meeting the time criteria and it depicted a romance drama set in mostly Italy. The film had some beautiful scenery. The filmmakers were Jai Sharma and Chandan Roy Sanyal from India.
Threshold, by Patrick R Young and Powell Robinson was a horror drama in the 2021 feature film competition in our film festival. Threshold told a great story between a brother and sister. She is "cursed" and they both embark on a mission to break the curse. Along the way there is some mystery, but the close relationship between them explains why her brother is willing to go to great lengths to save his sister. An incredible ending leaves the story in the mind of the viewer for some time. The film begins in California and the entire cast and crew goes on a 12-day road trip with two cars, two directors and two iPhones. You can listen to a very entertaining and detailed conversation about the film in episode 95 of the SBP Podcast. Threshold was picked up for distribution by Arrow Films.
Another two films were also produced by Raya Films, Cyberlante and Surveilled. Caroline Spence shares in episode 90 of the podcast how an accidental loss of a film camera during Cyberlante, introduced her and James Smith, her partner in Raya Films, to smartphone filmmaking. You can also listen to a separate podcast episode 91 with James Smith. We just found out that their second film Surveilled, which was in the editing process during the start of the pandemic, was just submitted to the 2022 edition of the feature film competition for our film festival. So stay tuned for more on that!
Another feature film shot with the iPhone is Rob Hagans' Barbara, a drama, may be the first feature shot with the iPhone 11. Rob was a guest in the SBP Podcast episode 70.
We received an email from Anthony Z James who was interested in coming to the festival in 2020 for a Q&A presentation with his feature film, Ghost. The film is an outstanding film with a very touching story and the motivation for making the film has a personal backstory for Anthony. Listen to his accounting of what it took for him to complete this film in episode 87 of the SBP Podcast.
We can't just end this article with a listing of features without expressing our belief that the more short films you make, the more you learn about filmmaking. Whether you're making a five minute film or a feature length film, the value of your story is in how you tell it. We opened our 11th year edition of the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego with action behind our belief in your potential.
We have transformed our film festival in a way that raises the bar for short films and created a separate competition for the less experienced filmmakers. The Rookie Award competition will select a few of the best films to screen in a separate screening during the festival and receive recognition during the Awards Ceremony and if in attendance they will participate in the festival, including the Red Carpet Extravaganza with our sponsors, Star Wars Steampunk Universe.
We've created the opportunity for more winners in the festival and raised the bar for the First, Second and Third Place awards for the short film competition. As always, the feature film competition is only for narrative films. As of last year, the limit is 120 minutes...and we only select three feature films to screen during the festival.
It's going to be a tough selection process this year! The regular deadline for featue films is October 19 and November 19 for short films.
The festival is planned to be an in-person event on April 29-May 1, 2022. We also plan an online festival after the in-person festival.
Visit our online store at www.mobilefilmmakershop.com where you can find designs for the festival, our podcast and more!
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