This 'mobile cinema' scene continues to have a large audience today. At this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival, NESTA (the National Endowment for Science Technology & the Arts) and BLINK, a creative technology company, will showcase Pocket Shorts, eight short films commissioned particularly for the purpose of watching on the 'small screen'.
As filming for the mobile screen grew in popularity, the gauntlet was thrown down to mobile makers to invent phones that would not only allow the viewing, but also the shooting of films with playback of equivalent quality. The industry responded with such rapid advancements in technology that a mere year later, several film festivals and competitions like the Cingular Wireless Short Film Festival 2004 included categories for entries in this new genre of 'mobile filmmaking'.
Touted by Elliot Grove, director and founder of the Raindance Film Festival, as the "most democratic form of filmmaking", mobile filmmaking has taken off in a huge way, attracting amateurs and professional alike. Grove believes its appeal lies in its functional simplicity. "You don't need expensive equipment, a big budget or large crew, just a great idea and a mobile phone"
Mobile filmmaking has since spread globally, becoming a regular feature in the US, UK and Scottish filmmaking scenes and also in the Malaga Film Festival in Spain. It is making headway into Asia as well, via the First Time Mobile FilmMakers Awards 2005 contest jointly organized by Nokia and Discovery Networks Asia.
Most recently, award-winning British director Shane Meadows, whose claim to fame includes features such as Dead Man's Shoes and A Room for Romeo Brass, became the first established filmmaker to create a mobile film. The Stairwell, his 15-second 'short' of an accidental collision with a wall premiered on 15 August as part of Nokia Shorts 2005 and was one of the highlights at the 13th Raindance Film Festival.
Meadows praised the technology and raved about the potentials of filming with mobile phones, in particular that "they let you get shots which might not be possible using larger camera equipment".
At the current rate of progress, technology analysts predict that a cinema-quality film shot with a mobile phone is not too far off in the future, some envisaging the possibility in as little as 12 months. The recently launched Nokia N90 already records videos of VHS resolution. And with research suggesting that more than half of all mobile phones will have video capability by 2007, mobile filmmaking looks all set to storm the red carpet.