With the rise of more and more photos and videos shared via social media, the Provo Pocket Film Fest, running this week in the Covey Center, is a celebration of great smartphone movie making.
Austin Craig founded the festival last year to encourage creative filmmakers that “with the right mix of determination and creativity, you can make a good movie, even a great one, with what you already have in your pocket.” To that end, the majority of the short films playing in the festival are filmed and edited on smartphones and tablets.
“I've worked in video production for about six years, and I've noticed something. Many filmmakers will talk about the great film they've thought up, but they don't have the budget or camera or studio or other piece ‘necessary’ to do it,” Craig said. “The Pocket Film Fest was started as a way of reminding filmmakers, young or old, seasoned or novice, that all they need to make a movie is a camera and some creativity.
"Virtually everybody today has access to a smartphone, which has everything needed to make and distribute a movie. You can shoot, edit and distribute right from the phone in your pocket, [and] it is a better film-making tool than even existed when I was a kid.”
The five-day event that began Tuesday is preparing for more than 500 attendees and will feature various workshops, classes and panel discussions, some of which are free. The featured speaker of the week will be award winning Australian filmmaker Jason van Genderen. Known as The Pocket Filmmaker, he is a recognized expert in smartphone movie making, and started the original Pocket Film Academy.
“In perfect honesty, there's nobody on earth more qualified,” Craig said of van Genderen.
In partnership with the Provo StartFest also happening this week, the Pocket Film Fest will feature a panel of local YouTube filmmakers: Brett Roberts of Bored Shorts TV; Jared Shores, co-creator of Studio C; Casen Sperry, co-creator of Dark Pixel; and Keith Allen, creator of KFaceTV. Panelists will share their advice on how to adapt and “make a name for yourself” in the ever-changing world of web media.
“We want to foster and create genuine creativity, inventiveness and resourcefulness in filmmakers young and old," Craig said. "We want to encourage filmmakers to focus their efforts not on the technical prowess of their equipment, but on the people, stories and creative vision possible every day, with what they already have."
Of course, being a film festival, there will be plenty of films to watch, with two feature-length films carrying the week. “Life on Bitcoin,” a documentary by Craig and his wife, Beccy, kicked off the week with a Tuesday premiere. The documentary followed the Craigs as they tried to live solely on Bitcoin, a digital form of money, for 90 days.
The other film, “Raiders!” will play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Reclaim Events Center in Provo. The film is about two 11-year-olds who set out to remake their favorite film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” They completed the whole film except one scene. So, 30 years later they got together to finish the movie.
More than 30 short films — a few of them only seconds long — will screen at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Covey Center. With names like, “LegoBean and the Magic Pocket,” “Here Comes Mama,” and “When People Tell You Their Dreams,” the shorts promise to touch on a variety of topics.
“We hope that people will learn that they really can make their movie, they can express themselves, they can tell their stories,” Craig said. “They can do it right now, no expensive gear needed.”