A Mobile Call to Filmmakers
By David Pescovitz, Tue Aug 31 12:00:00 GMT 2004

Festivals and dedicated channels spotlight indy films on the small screen.

What are the best options for mobile media artists to showcase their work? In recent weeks, there's been a flurry of activity around mobile phone film festivals and even a new mobile channel devoted to indy filmmakers.

Atlanta-based Zoie Films has partnered with Tin Can Mobile and Nokia to present a selection of one to five minute works in a new "Cellular Cinema Festival." Interestingly, they're not encouraging filmmakers to develop new works for the media, but rather to "dig deep into your film archives and re-edit features, shorts animations, documentaries and digital content."

According to an article in Wired News, Zoie Films claims that this is the "world's first cell-phone film festival." Zoie doesn't boast that on their site though--a good thing because as readers of TheFeature know, others blazed the trails on the mobile media festival circuit.

Indeed, content provider BigDigit recently announced the winners in their World's Smallest Animation Festival at the SIGGRAPH 2004 computer graphics conference. This is the latest in their "World's Smallest" series of mobile media festivals. The winning clips will be available for download via the mFlix mobile content channel that BigDigit announced on August 20 for Sprint in the US market.

A monthly subscription to mFlix costs $4.95. How much of this do the filmmakers receive? Not a penny. Signing BigDigit's Media Submission Authorization form grants the company the "non-exclusive right to use and exploit the material at festivals, events, and in media including over mobile networks." "Exploit" is an appropriate choice of words. Well, at least if mFlix makes money licensing out content, the filmmaker "will earn usage revenue on a pro-rata basis."

Perhaps a micropayment scheme for the subscription service would probably encourage more artists to participate and submit higher-quality work. After all, with both film festivals and channels, success depends more on the content than the context.