Next month in San Diego, Calif., a film festival screening only flicks created totally on mobile devices returns. In it’s third year, the International Mobil Film Festival, hosted by S. Botello Productions, is going even more mobile with an app from Yapp.
Alongside the festival, S. Botello Productions runs other programs with the Mobile Film Resource Center, including a mobile film school and distribution channel. The company’s founder, Susan Botello, is now working on implementing mobile filmmaking in schools.
We chatted with Susan Botello, who can now add ‘app creator’ to her founder title, about the festival and it’s newest addition — a mobile event app.
How did the Mobil Film Festival get started?
It began as an idea in 2001 that came around again and again but there were real limits to implementing it. For example, you could not show a film on a big screen, because the quality of video cameras on phones was poor. The internet in 2005 & 2006 was an option for an online film festival, however, the internet was still limited when it came to video and the average person had a very hard time uploading videos that played well over the internet. In 2010, when the first HD quality video cameras entered the mobile phone industry, SBP decided the time had arrived.
The idea was that anyone could do it. Everyone around the world, just about, had a mobile phone. I pitched the idea to everyone on the street, on the internet — everyone. You’d think I was peddling it. And in many ways I was…it was my vision of the future I was trying to convince every person I came in contact with. “Everyone just has to try it and the world will realize this is awesome.” That’s what I thought. Out of this came “Community Stories” which encourages every day people to share the stories of their communities and cultures from within.
What kind of apps do the filmmakers use to create their festival submissions?
We are not all about any particular brand or make when it comes to phones so we don’t limit apps usage. The only thing we do not want for our film festival are apps that edit your video for you and make the editing decisions for the user. However, we do share the apps that filmmakers tell us are the best. They do change as new app developers join the “game” of mobile filmmaking. I will name a few apps here that are consistently winning the hearts of filmmakers.
FilmicPro is an app used for filmmaking by the best mobile filmmakers around the world. It has settings that allow you to white balance and set frame rates, which is pretty cool and there are many more features. FilmicPro is also endorsed by the best of the filmmakers in the world of mobile film.
Splice is an editing app that is free. Splice allows simple video editing on the phone and you can include an audio track from iTunes. It is very basic, but if you are on the field and want to produce a quick story on video this is one quick and free way to do it. But we don’t require anyone edit on the phone or record audio on their phone, just video.
Speaking of audio, there are ways to record audio with your phone by attaching a microphone like a shotgun mic. One way is to use a product named iRig. There are several models but you want the one that allows you to plug a mic into your phone and it allows you to plug in the XLR cable directly to it.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen at the festival?
The coolest thing is to watch the filmmakers network and when they walk the red carpet. This year I am noticing a new genre in the film industry that is emerging due to the creativity in mobile filmmaking and it is what I had hoped would happen. When it comes to the audience, it is quite moving to watch them in awe as they enjoy the films on a bigger screen. To watch an audience member in awe and for them to ask you questions about how they can make their own because they are so inspired…that’s the topping on the cake — it inspires people to go and realize their dream. We are trying to help them realize their dream.
Do you have a favorite submission?
I have many favorites because I love film and art. I really like them all a lot. I believe in people and when they send me a film and I see the work they have done I am inspired. I don’t judge the films and plan to never do that. I hope I never have to. For that we have a judge panel and they are professionals. Even if my favorites don’t take the first prize the panel decides on winners and I always feel it was a fair decision. But the filmmakers are pioneers in an industry that will probably be mainstream soon. Not only do I commend them for being a part of MFF but we try to keep assisting the filmmakers, winners or not. We do this by connecting them with professionals and promoting their work and successes. We also refer and share their successes and work with our partners like the other mobile film festivals which are part of our collaborating partners from Macedonia, New Zealand, South Korea and Spain. There are such a diverse amount of films from very creative to very cinematic and everyone should come see the films, meet mobile filmmakers and be inspired.
What’s your favorite thing about mobile technology?
That we all have it and that we can fit it in our pocket. I believe the fact that smartphones can be put on a table or in our pocket as far as designs go, the rectangle screen shape that fits just about everywhere on the go is ideal. It is also a tool that with apps can be a magic wand for us. I like how in order to update them you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy a new one just keep on top of updates and researching the best apps for your lifestyle. The fact that almost everyone has them is the reason investing in them is successful as well. With a phone, you can be completely connected to the world and when it comes to storytelling, which has been around moving the world forward since the beginning of time, mobile technology can tell stories that could never have been told before by everyday people and we can access them with the same technology everywhere in the world. With phones in the right hands the world can be a better place.
What’s the future of mobile filmmaking, from your perspective?
I see the future of mobile filmmaking going mainstream. We are working on the mobile film school, which we plan to accredit, and all our programs by setting up a resource center with global access so that when people are out looking into it they find a place designed by the pioneers in this “parallel” film industry. There are phones coming out with 4K capability too. Things are looking great for the mobile filmmaking industry and also I should note that in order to tell a story with film and video it’s not just about pushing the record button on your phone or camera. There are things we can teach you in our workshops that will enable you to do a great job! Mobile filmmaking has a lot of benefits. But it also has complications as it is still evolving. I would like to encourage the industry to contact me and develope more accessories for mobile filmmaking.
What’s the best part about having your own mobile app for your festival?
The fact that we don’t have to print programs and mail or hand them out is pretty cool. But we are all about innovation and creativity, so it makes sense to have an app for our film festival and we love the idea of not having to carry paper programs while holding our phone and our drink. And we always seem to have a phone in hand and a drink on the other don’t we?
But there is one more benefit. You guys are telling your customers that you can do more than what you offer by offering it just by asking you. For example, your Q&A asks about the photos for the “Crowd Pictures” during the event, which is a feature of the app. They asked how they could download them from the app and you say you will do that for us just by asking. High five! You rock!