Royal Holloway is one of the founding partners of SMART, the new London International Smartphone Film Festival taking place online from 21-25 June 2021. The festival celebrates the innovation, intimacy and diversity of smartphone filmmaking.
Lockdown has accelerated smartphone filmmaking’s coming of age. It is proving to be a game-changer in film and video production, bringing fresh approaches to cinema, influencing the direction of television and completely redefining short films.
Professor Victoria Mapplebeck from the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway is the co-founder and co-festival Director of SMART. She also shot and directed Missed Call, the first smartphone film to win a BAFTA.
Victoria is passionate about shooting with a smartphone and said, “I’ve been a self-shooting director for 25 years - my camera has gone from needing a bag the size of a small suitcase to fitting in my back pocket. I shoot with my smartphone every day now and I love how it’s transformed my approach to filmmaking. The smartphone really came into its own during the pandemic. I’ve been inspired by so many of the smartphone shorts I’ve watched recently, many of them made by our students. I’ve seen original and creative films which capture the hidden and personal stories of life in lockdown.”
The festival advocates that anybody can now make and distribute a brilliant film regardless of their background or funding: all that’s needed is the will and the talent. With advanced technology ever more accessible, from smartphone cameras, to editing software, filmmakers are able to bypass the traditional gatekeepers of production while still creating high quality films.
Co-founder and co-festival Director Adam Gee (Emmy winner and Missed Call’s executive producer) also remarked: “SMART above all wants to inspire and prompt people of all backgrounds to take the plunge and make that film they’ve always wanted to. The freshest, smartest and most exciting talent these days is to be found in places like TikTok. That’s the spirit we’re tapping into.”
In recent years, filmmakers have created ground-breaking films with smartphones: from mainstream feature films to Turner Prize winning film installations. These include Steven Soderbergh (High Flying Bird), Luca Guadagnino (Fiori, Fiori, Fiori), Claude Lelouch, Jennifer Zhang, Michel Gondry, Jenna Bass and Sean Baker (Tangerine).
There are six categories covering scripted and unscripted films of all lengths and genres. The festival encourages films made 100% on smartphones but anything shot more than 50% on a smartphone is eligible.
Each winner will receive an award and a mentoring session with one of the judges (who are leading directors, producers and commissioners). They will also be offered distribution opportunities with Little Dot Studios, a ground-breaking international digital content agency and media network who are also one of the festivals partners.
SMART’s inaugural year will take place 21-25 June 2021, and will showcase the winning and shortlisted films, with guest appearances from award-winning smartphone directors.