The Sundance Film Institute along with Roamware and NXP gave five prominent independent directors (including the two from Little Miss Sunshine) a $20,000 budget to create professional mobile short films, which the institute debuted today here at 3GSM. The project had no immediate commercial aims, but rather served to show the industry and mobile video critics that the platform could be a viable one for professionals. After viewing each of the five shorts, I can honestly say most of these filmmakers have upped the ante when it comes to mobile films. It's all the more remarkable since (at least) one of the filmmakers hadn't owned a mobile phone prior to attending 3GSM (plenty of freebies). None of the filmmakers had considered the platform or viewed mobile content before being asked to participate in the project. Here's a run down of the five short films with some choice commentary from each director: (click the images to watch the films)
A Slip in Time, by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris of Little Miss Sunshine fame. Dayton: "There will be opportunities to repurpose other types of film, but I do think this is a new medium and it has its own challenges, as filmmakers we're all just beginning to explore those challenges... Faris: "With that little screen, it's just a different set of limitations that we are used to--Challenging!" (laughs.)
Learning to Skateboard, by Jody Hill: "Making things for the small screen--well, I didn't really know how to do that so I just put everything in the middle, shot it pretty big and hoped it came out okay... I don't understand technology, but it's nice to be on the cutting edge of it."
La Revolucion de Iguodala, Justin Lin: "At first I thought, 'Oh, it's just two by two (Ed note: referring to most mobile's screen size) you can get away with anything, just shoot everything on DV [digital video] and make it look a certain way'" afterward.
Los Viajes de King Tiny, Maria Maggenti: "I found it absolutely thrilling...making a film just for the love of it. It's exciting to make a short film that was not about selling anything, except an idea. I was too shy to ask any of my actor friends to be in it..."
Reno, Cory Mcabee: "Restrictions were: couldn't be offensive to anybody...The things I started thinking about when trying to figure out what to do was think about things people are already used to seeing on a two-by-two screen like still photography--everybody has digital cameras. Loops, was another thing I was thinking about... Also, surveillance cameras is something seen on small screens. So I wanted to make a collage... used a good friend of mine to go back and eliminate all the details in the shots."