Entering its second year, the Original iPhone Film Festival is a Web-based film festival that celebrates the work of filmmakers who use nothing more than their iPhones, iPod Touches, or iPads to create impressive works of art.
The festival, at which Yahoo Tech’s own David Pogue will be a judge, offers free entry to anyone as long as the work was shot on an iOS device and has a runtime of less than five minutes.
It was started by Matt Dessner and Corey Rogers, who both work in the advertising industry. They say they started the festival shortly after Apple debuted the iPhone 4 and the company’s iMovie video editing app.
This ability to share your homemade films with the Internet for the cost of a smartphone, Dessner said, brought about what he calls the democratization of filmmaking.
“The empowerment part got us started,” Dessner said. “It gives people the ability to share a story or a cause that couldn’t be shared before. This iPhone brought it all together to let the storyteller be completely autonomous.
“At that time there really wasn’t any platform that was an iPhone film or storytelling outlet. And we thought, wouldn’t it be great to see what people are doing with iPhones around the country? And when we got started, we found that it wasn’t just around the country, it was around the world.”
In its first year, the festival received more than 250 submissions. “We didn’t know what we were going to get from the beginning, but Corey and I were very surprised,” Dessner said. “Some of the videos were a little bit like what you might expect, but others blew our mind.
“We had a story about a unique local game that is played by men in Iraq. We got music videos that were made with multiple iPhones shooting at the same time, so we got these multicamera shoots that we didn’t even think of ourselves.”
A springboard for filmmakers
In addition to giving iOS owners the opportunity to express themselves artistically, the festival gives participants the kind of exposure that can catapult them into the larger film industry.
Michael Koerbel, a former participant and now judge in the Original iPhone Film Festival, was able to leverage his success with using the iPhone as a video tool to launch his commercial film career.
Since he and his partner, Anna Elizabeth James, debuted their film Apple of My Eye and the Goldilocks series, all shot on an iPhone 4, Koerbel has been tapped to direct commercials for the likes of AXE, Jaguar, Royal Caribbean, and Toyota.
In some of their iPhone-based work, the pair mount their handsets to heavy-duty brackets and camera equipment to ensure that they get the look they want out of their shots. Other times, however, like when filming a fight scene for the Goldilocks series, they will simply shoot with their iPhones in hand.
Koerbel said he and James chose to use the iPhone to shoot their films because, at the time, they were in film school and simply couldn’t afford a high-end camera. During their shoots, the pair would treat the iPhone like any other camera. And after a long day of filming, James would use their handset to edit the footage.
“If you can make a movie on an iPhone, you can do anything,” Koerbel said. “We wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing right now if we didn’t try it with the iPhone.”
It’s those kinds of experiences that Dessner and Rogers hope to foster with their second Original iPhone Film Festival. “It’s really supposed to be a way to help people shoot on their iPhone; a year-round entity that supports this community,” Dessner said.
The Original iPhone Film Festival is accepting submissions now through Nov. 30. Participants can enter their films in categories including fiction, nonfiction, documentary, and music video. Younger participants can also enter their work into the student director category.
All entrants can edit their work on their Macs or PCs, but those who edit their videos on their iPhones will be up for a special jury prize.
For more information about the Original iPhone Film Festival, visit iphonefilmmaker.com.