Mobile phone film festival to launch in Australia

Mobile Screenfest will celebrate the stories of the YouTube and iPhone generation

Mobile Screenfest, a new film festival designed to recognise the emergence of mobile phone-based film making, is on track for launch mid next year.

The festival, a first of its kind in Australia according to its organiser and founding director at Araya Pictures, Avi Ratnanesan, picks up on a global trend which views every iPhone owner as a potential film maker.

“Throughout the world there have been a large number of mobile film festivals where people have use their phones to shoot, rather than view, films,” he said. “These have been happening since 2004 in the US and around the world and we’re bringing that trend to Australia with a film festival of films solely shot on mobile phones.”

Films shot on mobile phones typically range anywhere from just 10 seconds up to three to five minutes, Ratnanesan said; just the right length for the “YouTube Generation”.

“All these videos on YouTube are predominantly very short and that’s what people want to see,” he said. “The attention span of the audience isn’t what it used to be, and now they want short, sharp interactions.”

Because of the near-ubiquity of camera-enabled mobile phones, the festival would also provide an opportunity for a wider section of the community to tell its stories, Ratnanesan said.

“Everyone has a mobile phone so they have access to a means of telling their story – they don’t have to do a course or hire equipment or be limited by funds. They can express their creativity by themselves,” he said.

“We talked to community organisations and have gotten very positive feedback – it’s a way youth can express itself through art, and they are already using their mobile films to do things like shoot hip videos. It’s something people are already doing – it’s just a question of having the outlet to celebrate it.”

With higher end mobile phones having cameras of up to eight megapixels in resolution, the quality of films being produced were surprisingly good, Ratnanesan said.

This could be seen in the in the Tropfest New York 2008 winning film which was entirely shot on a mobile phone.

Government support, sponsors and a venue for the Mobile Screenfest festival were being locked down for mid 2010 and a web site, through which with entries could be uploaded and viewed, was due for launch in February, Ratnanesan said.

It was hopped, he added, that the festival would attract both tech savvy mobile phone users who wanted to tell stories, and experienced film makers who wanted to experiment with new techniques.

“It is about raising the awareness of this particular art form and is where the future is going. It’s where the arts, and film making and technology all converge. This is the future now,” Ratnanesan said. “Will it substitute for traditional film making? Probably not, but it will be a complementary method of filmmaking to what is out there now.”

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