The iPhone Film Festival

September 23, 2014
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Part and parcel of the notion of a true democratization in filmmaking, on a parallel tandem with localized cable TV, the Independent Filmmakers Channel (IFC) and Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute is the wondrous iPhone Film Festival. About to receive entries for its second year, the Original iPhone Film Festival is a web-based film festival showcasing the work of filmmakers whose equipment—beyond perhaps lighting and stagecraft—means using the same iPhones, iPod Touches, or iPads anybody anywhere might use to create works of art, and which last less than five minutes. Indeed, every entry, provided it follows competition rules on length and equipment, is free!

The festival was originally the bright idea of two Madison Avenue big shots, Matt Dessner and Corey Rogers, who both work in the advertising industry. Dessner, a producer, editor and animator having spent fifteen years in the industry working at the likes of J.Walter Thompson, BBDO (N.Y.), RMG Connect and for himself at Kinetic, was fascinated by the infinite possibilities of the new Apple technology. Rogers, a partner at Schaffer Rogers Advertising, saw an avenue to transcend the years of facilitating deals involving digital, interactive and mobile media working at MGM, Warner Bros, New Line, Universal, Clein & White P.R. Thus they started the festival not long after Apple debuted the iPhone 4 and worked with Apple’s iMovie video editing app. “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,” Dessner told Yahoo News.

The iPhone Film Festival

Filmmakers were invited to submit videos in four categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Music Video or (for the first time this year) Student Directors. Footage may be edited using whatever app on whatever platform you wish. Films have to be submitted via the contest’s Enter page by 11:59 EST on November 30, 2014. In its first year, 250 submissions were received.  A lot more are expected this year, especially with the new generations of iPhones making the process simpler than ever.

There’s even a first year success story among the judges. Consider Michael Koerbel, whose success at the fest got him instant exposure; he was able to leverage his success using the iPhone as a video tool to launch his commercial film career. Koerbel and his partner, Anna Elizabeth James, are not shy when it comes to explaining why they used the iPhone to shoot. Broke while attending film school they couldn’t even afford to rent a 16mm Bolex. At the time, they were in film school and simply couldn’t afford a high-end camera. And unlike the patience it takes to develop, test and edit after a long day of shooting, James was able to use their handset to edit their footage. Since Koerbel and James debuted their film Apple of My Eye and the Goldilocks series, all shot on an iPhone 4, the pair have been hired to direct commercials for the likes of AXE, Jaguar, Royal Caribbean, and Toyota.

In some of their iPhone-based work, the pair do some very cool, hand-held shots, while, at other times they attach their handsets to steel brackets and camera equipment to ensure that they get the more polished look they want out of their shots.

If you can make a movie on an iPhone, you can do anything,” Koerbel told Yahoo News. “We wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing right now if we didn’t try it with the iPhone.”

You can take a look at Apple of My Eye, and watch the ‘making of’ video that follows, below. It’s very impressive.

For more information about the Original iPhone Film Festival, visit

Apple of My Eye – IPHONE 4 FILM from Michael Koerbel on Vimeo.

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