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Before The Hobbit: mobile movie makers show how it's done

Before The Hobbit: mobile movie makers show how it's done with a tiny camera

As Wellington gears up to celebrate the big budget, big camera Hobbit movie premiere next week, a new wave of filmmakers are gathering in the capital to show what can be done with a few dollars and a mobile phone.

Mobile films, documentaries, music videos and even mobile stop-frame animation feature at the second Mobile Creativity and Innovation Symposium in Wellington on November 23-25 as part of the BLOW creative arts festival.

The symposium, including an international mobile film screening, is hosted by the Mobile Innovation Network Aotearoa, which was co-founded by Massey University lecturer in digital media, Dr Max Schleser, and AUT lecturer in graphic design and new media, Laurent Antonczak.

“Mobile filmmaking is like a visual text message. It’s happening in the streets, on the go. It’s a great space for emerging talent, young people who don’t have access to big crews and massive post-production,” Dr Schleser says.

“There are people making Hollywood-style movies on mobile phones, but I think the most interesting developments are the new points of view and collaborative ways of making movies that can’t be done on traditional cameras,” he says.

The work of filmmakers from countries as far flung as Brazil, the USA, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, New Zealand, Columbia, Russia, Greece, Germany and Japan is featured at the festival. Their films include the three winning projects from the Los Angeles iPhone Film Festival, and 5#Calls - the first mobile film nominated for Cannes, screening for the first time in Australasia.

A showreel of clips from these films is available at:

Dr Schleser says the showreel highlights many features of the new “Mobile Wave” of filmmaking:
• experiments with viewpoint, by attaching cameras to weather balloons, car wheels, and trains;
• use of smartphone HD-image capabilities to play with colour and time-lapse photography; and
• a close-up, tactile aesthetic.

“Filmmakers are creating a new visual language using mobile phones, iPads and a vast range of apps. The field is moving very fast. The Berlin film festival included a mobile film this year. 5#Calls was nominated for Cannes. It certainly won’t be long before mobile films are a normal part of mainstream film festivals in New Zealand.”

Dr Schleser was one of the first people in the world to film a full-length movie on a mobile phone (Max with a Keitai, shot in 2006).

MINA’s 2012 special guest is Felipe Cardona from Bogota, Columbia, whose mobile films have screened at such events as Interfilm’s Micromovie Award (Berlin, 2004) and the Mobifest Film Festival in Toronto (2008).

The symposium will also hear about international and local collaborative projects that are common in mobile filmmaking, grounded as it is in the same technological and social changes that bring us crowdsourcing, citizen journalism and mobile activism.


International Mobile Innovation Screening:

Friday 23 November, 6.30-8.15pm
National Film Archive, Wellington
This a free event, but registration is required due to limited space
To register, go to

2nd Mobile Creativity and Innovation Symposium programme:

Felipe Cardona:
Short film, Cami&Nando, all filming, animation, FX, done on mobile:

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