Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Putting movies on mobiles

US actor Kevin Spacey speaks at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
Kevin Spacey feels that mobile films are the future
Mainstream movies get their recognition at awards ceremonies such as the Baftas and Oscars and movies for phones are getting their turn at MoFilm - the first mobile film festival.

The awards highlight the increasing impact that mobile phones are making in the entertainment industry.

The first ever mobile film awards got a touch of Hollywood glamour as it was hosted by multiple Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.

Describing his involvement, he said: "When I started to hear about MoFilm, I started to hear about what they were trying to do with respect to short films and content being able to go on to people's phones.

"And in some cases realising that, in some countries, this might be the first time they ever see a movie," he said. "They won't see it on that big screen, they'll see it on a small one."

New platforms

Many aspiring filmmakers are frustrated by the lack of opportunities to screen their work but mobile phones are increasingly being seen as a new platform for these short works.

"Just the notion that yet there is another place - a further journey for artists, film-makers, documentarians - anyone who wants to express themselves and find a way to have that expression be seen by a wide audience," said Mr Spacey.

"When you think about how many people have mobile phones in the world, it's pretty ridiculous," he added.


The MoFilm competition received 250 entries from more than 100 countries. Entries were restricted to films that were five minutes or less in length - ideal for viewing and sharing on mobile phones.

An independent jury then selected a shortlist of five film-makers from which a winner was chosen by an audience voting using their phones at the Mobile World Congress.

"English as a Second Language" produced by Frank Chnindamo and directed by Jocelyn Stemat, won the MoFilm grand prize.

"This is about giving people in other countries a platform, and an ability to show their work, I'm here to support an idea that's about other people," said Mr Spacey.

"Purists may hate this but guess what guys, this is what our kids are looking at, they are engaged in this, they want this device.

"This is about people who are inspired and kids want this, they are more informed, they get it," he added.

The majority of films made for mobiles are short in length, taking into account the screen size, however this could be overcome as technology advances.

It is an incredible opportunity, particularly for young emerging film makers
Kevin Spacey

"I'm not sure that something could be longer than ten minutes and be able to sustain itself on that kind of screen," said Mr Spacey.

"Although, I know that one of the things we are learning here is that there are mobile companies that are creating phones that have the ability to watch stuff at higher quality."

MoFilm is pioneering content for mobile and online services that Mr Spacey feels is a world away from Hollywood.

"I am the only person from the film industry here, I see its potential, I get it," he said.

"It doesn't seem to me that other people are aware of it yet but I can see where it's going to be in five or ten years time.

"It is an incredible opportunity, particularly for young emerging film makers."

Start here

The new Omnia Samsung is displayed at the Mobile World Congress
As screen sizes get larger, films for mobiles may get longer

Mr Spacey's involvement with grass roots movie makers does not begin and end with hosting the MoFilm ceremony. Mr Spacey co-founded the Triggerstreet website that allows budding film-makers to showcase their work.

"I started the website about six years ago, and we now have close to 400,000 members around the world," he said.

"We started out with short films and we've done a whole series of short film festivals on the site.

"There are screen plays, plays, there's novels and now comic books which we just started - it's become a platform for independent film makers.

"One of the things we've learned at Triggerstreet, cause when we started, we didn't quite frankly know whether we were going to get wedding videos and porno.

"The quality of work and the simple ability at story telling, the thing that ignites someone and inspires them to tell a story, can really come from anywhere," he added.

Digital Planet is broadcast on BBC World Service on Tuesday at 1232 GMT and repeated at 1632 GMT, 2032 GMT and on Wednesday at 0032 GMT.

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