Are you making movies with your smartphone camera? We've been celebrating you, are you ready to celebrate your films in San Diego?

A little perspective. You don't go all out to build a film festival in "America's Finest City" just over an hour from Los Angeles. You just don't. Unless, you believe in filmmakers. They say, "Seeing is believing." But for IMFF founder, Susy Botello it's been flipped to "believing is seeing." 


The Risk of Smartphone Movie Making

The festival took a few years to launch because of timing. They also say, "Timing is everything." Not so simple. The festival was not an experiment. It was not a test to see if movies shot with phones could be seen on a big screen. The festival was a vision for the long haul. A permanent event celebrating mobile filmmaking as it grows. An investment in time. Promoting making movies with smartphones for as long as it took. We promised you back in 2009 that no matter where you were in the world, if you shot a movie with your phone we would put it on a big screen in San Diego and roll out the red carpet for you. 

Susy was involved with a network of professional video producers and filmmakers. It was risky to put your reputation on the line by suggesting you could make a film with the camera on your phone. But when you believe in filmmakers, you are not afraid. And so many, more than you can imagine, would say that was a cute idea. Cute. Because when she began to explain this was the future for film, even to this day, no one took it seriously.


Some History

In 2011, imagine almost three years of having to explain yourself on why you are still promoting this idea. When you are working full time and you spend early mornings, nights and weekends wrapped in it, why? No one was paying attention, or so it seemed. Then one day, it was around 4 in the morning in the office that she received an email with a link for a movie shot with the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4, the first HD camera on a phone, came out just after Susy launched the idea. The movie was called, The Fixer by Conrad Mess. Proving to us that our persistence and patience was worth it. 

The festival has held its event since 2012 in San Diego. San Diego is an expensive, yet beautiful tourist attraction. Many films were shot in San Diego, from Almost Famous in 2000 to scenes of The Lost World: Jurasic Park in 1997.

The inaugural festival attracted a filmmaker who came from Macedonia to San Diego for the event. And with each other festival, we've been pleased to meet filmmakers from all over the world who came to San Diego to celebrate mobile filmmaking.

Even filmmakers who did not qualify for the competition came to the festival to celebrate the smartphone filmmaking movement with us and participating filmmakers. Filmmakers have come from as far as New Zealand, Indonesia, Australia, Italy, UK, Germany, Canada, Chile...just to give you an idea of the global impact mobile filmmaking has in San Diego. While we are told San Diego filmmakers are not interested, because we are close to L.A. we've met filmmakers from L.A. that come to the festival in San Diego each year. Some filmmakers from San Diego, have also participated in our film festival over the years. And they've met filmmakers and producers that they have worked with since then.


The Pandemic

IMFF 2021 included two feature films from L.A. filmmakers. Threshold by Patrick Young and Powell Robinson, and Charon by Jennifer Zhang winner of the Best Feature Film award. We also met some filmmakers from L.A. who produced short films that were planning to attend in San Diego. They were eager to come to San Diego for the festival but unfortunately, the pandemic put a damper on things this year. We held the festival online through our smartphone film and video streaming service, Mobile Film Stories. We turned it into an interactive event with most filmmakers attending to meet each other on the forum and watch the opening presentation and awards ceremony.

In IMFF 2020 the tables turned quickly on us from an in-person event to an online event. Susy met the challenge without a blink. The shut down of in-person events and lock downs was announced in March. We only had a few weeks to plan.

The festival program is something that we plan throughout the year.

In 2020, the CEO of Filmic Pro was confirmed to attend the festival for a presentation.

IMFF 2020 Filmic Pro hindsight web 

Also confirmed was a masterclass by John Woosley, which included shooting a short film from a screenplay written by Susy a few years back; a screenwriting workshop by Steven Palmer Peterson who has written for films playing on Netflix with Hollywood actors; a seminar by Keithan Jones of Kid-Comics on Kickstarter Campaign Funding; and a brief presentation by Sandmarc as a vendor. 

Susy quickly shifted to finalize the judging overnight and run to pick up the engraved trophies before the shut down of businesses took effect the next day. We are so grateful to our sponsor Engraving Pros for making it happen. Then it was a matter of contacting all the selected filmmakers and ensuring them that we were not going to let them down. We were still screening their films, but online...and of course, it was not easy getting every single filmmaker to respond to receive permission to do that. However, it succeeded and all the filmmakers gave permission, including two feature films, and everyone showed up online to the screening and awards ceremony, on video, of course.

In 2022 we are planning to finally hold the festival in person again and we are looking forward to a very welcome celebration of three full days in San Diego. We are also planning an online event after the attending filmmakers have had a chance to go home to enjoy it with their friends. We want to share all we can from our live in-person event with the filmmakers who cannot attend. 


The Red Carpet Stars You!

By now, you may have heard about our unique Red Carpet Extravaganza sponsored by Star Wars Steampunk Universe. It's a great show and an incredible experience. But for the filmmakers who cannot come out, we also treat you as stars!

Loparev RC IMFF2019 Website

Photo: Art Essence Photography.

The communication between you and us welcomes you to our mobile filmmaking community: our family. Whether we meet you in San Diego or online, you are a star to us. And so we do all we can to promote you. Some of you have been guests in our podcast hosted by Susy. As a guest, you also have an article written about you in our Smartphone Filmmaking publication on Medium. An article written about you based on what we learn about you from the conversation during our podcast. 

SBP Podcast Logo 2020

We also support you on social media when you follow and connect with us. We add your name and film to our website's most popular page for the event. We add your film to our programming online so you can share it and promote yourself. You receive laurels as soon as your film is selected. And if your film is not selected, we continue our communication with you and respect you because we know...we know that your next film is going to be better. We also realize that we sometimes can't select all the good films because of the time limits in our program. 

Some filmmakers who have not qualified for the competitions, still get asked to guest on the podcast. They also get our attention on social media. They are always encouraged to try again for the next year. We don't give up on you and hope you don't give up on being a part of our festival. 

We believe everyone has stories to tell and film is the best way to share stories. We believe in you. We respect you and we hope that all we do shows our commitment. 


What's Next?

It's all up to you. The 11th edition of the festival takes place next April 29 thru May 1st. Are you going to participate as a filmmaker in the competitions or are you going to celebrate mobile filmmaking with us as part of the community? The best experience is when you participate in the competitions.

Read some testimonials.

IMFF 11 yrs Submit web New 081421 


Above, we mentioned Conrad Mess' first mobile film, The Fixer. The film was 7:35 minutes long. The inaugural festival time limit was three minutes. Three minutes! We suggested he cut the film down from that to three minutes. He did it. He wasn't sure it would work but he gave it a shot. Not only did it work, but he won!

In 2019, John Woosley came to provide a mobile filmmaking workshop in our festival. He presented a film which Susy asked him to trim down to 15 minutes so that it could fit into the program with the workshop. He was pretty skeptical. But he did it anyways and he shared with attendees during a Q & A that surprisingly, his film turned out better and he had won an award in another festival with it. 

Jwoosley Workshop web

If your film does not fit the time limit for either the short or feature film competition, it's up to you...but don't sell yourself short of an opportunity to shine in our film festival. After all, you get so much from participating in our film festival. You get to shine like the filmmaking star that you are. 

If you are not yet making films with your smartphone because you have access to other cameras, we realize you still have a smartphone. And submitting your film to our film festival may be an unforgettable experience beyond what you imagined. If you attend in San Diego, the energy and vibes you feel will last a lifetime. At least, that's what we are told by filmmakers who have attended. It's why some come back when they can. Even from as far out as Australia. 

IMFF 2018 About You

Submit your films on FilmFreeway today. The red carpet is in your pocket!™


Sponsors: FilmConvert | Engraving Pros | Moondog Labs | Filmic Pro | Mobile Film Stories | Star Wars Steampunk Universe | Swords & Circuitry Studios


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