Issue: Volume: 26 Issue: 10 (Oct 2003)

Three-Minute Movies


Beau Buck
The World's Smallest Film Festival could spark an explosion of made-for-mobile movies and animations
Beau Buck is the founder and CEO of BigDigit Inc., producers of The World's Smallest Film Festival. (See "Made for Mobile,")




A: Juliette Deinum—BigDigit's vice president of creative development—and I were brainstorming about what was next in the evolution of mobile devices, what would drive sales of devices and services, and what we could do to participate in the technological advances. We felt the driving force would be compelling content. Juliette, who comes from a film background, came up with the idea of having a film festival as a way to merge creativity and new technology. From our view, as hosts to the most significant aggregation of content created and encoded specifically for mobile devices, we felt both worlds would benefit: The films and animations would draw attention to the phones, their capabilities, and new forms of use; and the phones would open up a whole new medium for filmmakers and animators.

A: The major players are filmmakers and animators, because they all want to have their works shown, potentially, to more than one billion handset users. The major sponsors are the parties in the supply chain who benefit from the association with The World's Smallest Film Festival. These would be component makers such as Intel, Motorola, and Qualcomm; device makers such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung; carriers such as Vodafone, ATT, and Orange; enabling software companies such as the France Telecom subsidiary Streamezzo, Apple, and Real Networks; turnkey players such as Palm and Microsoft; and content developers such as BMW Films, Urban Entertainment, and so on.

A: We ask for short animations and digital films that meet our criteria for encoding to mobile devices. Simply put, we look for entertaining or informative works that are three minutes in length or less. In our first festival (archives of which can be seen at www.bigdigit.com/splash), we had entries in all categories: animation, drama, comedy, episodic, instructional, commercial, sports, and music.

A: We believe that carriers will acquire rights to libraries of content and bundle access to them into service plans and devices. We think this will serve as an incentive for users to choose phone/plan A over phone/plan B. If, for a few dollars more, you can have access to all these great capabilities, many people will take that option. We've just entered into an agreement to create The World's Smallest Film Festival channel for mobile carriers. Our objective is to aggregate the content and be the source of material for the carriers and handset makers who want to increase their market share and per-capita revenues.

A: The technology will evolve as the money justifies it. This is why we think that carriers will bundle the Festival's content and use that to sell premium services and devices. As that happens, it will be a more supportable business decision to invest in higher-end chips, screens, networks, and so forth.

A: Since holding our first Festival earlier this year, we have seen animators and filmmakers getting more acquainted with the toolsets and terminology. As creative people learn to work within the limitations and constraints to create works that are lighter, portable, and more succinct, and as the market accepts these works, a natural selection process will occur, and new paradigms for filmmaking and animating will emerge and become accepted. We believe these may include some of the inherent features of mobile communications, such as instant messaging, one-to-many, many-to-one, and personalization. As these paradigms will converge, we'll see many new creative and commercial opportunities.
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