An elegant split-screen romance recently won Nokia’s short film contest with video site Vimeo, highlighting the growing creative potential of mobile phones as well as the quality of its own devices.
The Espoo, Finland-based handset maker teamed up with Vimeo in April to offer a $5,000 production budget and two Nokia N8 smartphones to produce a mobile-shot short film as part of its “Nokia Shorts” competition.
“Splitscreen: A Love Story,” directed by J.W. Griffiths, was recently announced as the winner, taking the $10,000 prize out of a field of 600 total entrants and eight finalists.
Griffiths’ two-and-a-half minute film, shot entirely on Nokia phones, centers on two people from different parts of the world who fall in love. Using a split screen showing one character in New York and the other in Paris, the film explores both people’s perspectives as they travel through the cities in parallel journeys.
Both characters eventually converge on the Golden Jubilee Bridge in London.
“Every film submitted for the final of Nokia Shorts was exceptional but James’ movie about two people falling in love stood out,” said Steven Overman, Nokia’s vice president marketing creation, in a company blog post. “We loved all eight films and it was very tough to choose a winner, and we hope creative people everywhere are as inspired by the results as we are.”
The results of the contest spotlight the growing creative potential of mobile devices in film and photography, proving that high-quality films can be made even on relatively inexpensive mobile equipment.
In addition to the N8 phone, Griffiths also used the Steadicam Smoothee, a hand-held dolly designed for the iPhone 3GS, but adapted for use by director of photography Christopher Moon for the N8.
The dolly was then attached to a bicycle, creating long, smooth moving shots to capture the short’s flowing cityscapes.
Despite the relatively humble equipment, the film has garnered praise and attention for its elegant direction, beautiful images and seamless editing, adding yet another example in what promises to be a growing mobile movie genre, especially as devices themselves become more sophisticated.
“Making a short film can be expensive, so as the phone cameras get better people will begin to use the thing they already have in their pocket rather than renting expensive equipment,” Griffiths said. “Of course there will always be short films shot with the best and most expensive equipment, but I think we’ll start seeing more and more great films shot on mobile phones.”
Apple’s iPhone has commanded most mobile filmmakers’ attention so far, and a spate of iPhone-made films have captured international interest, including prominent Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s “Paranmanjang,” which screened early this year and was shot entirely on the iPhone.
The handset has also played a prominent role in video-based art projects such as New York-based artist Ronan Verbit’s multi-screen film.
But the iPhone as a creative tool may soon be joined other phones whose sophisticated HD cameras may prove attractive to budding photographers and filmmakers.
T-Mobile’s MyTouch 4G, due for release in July, may also boast one of the most advanced cameras in the smartphone market as well.
As HD video recording becomes a more common feature on handsets, more films shot on mobile phones will likely find themselves on the big screen.
Nokia may be hoping to be included in this list, as its involvement and sponsorship of the Vimeo filmmaking contest highlights the quality of cameras on its phones. As the company fights to retain relevancy in an app-centric mobile market, it may do good for Nokia to remind consumers that its hardware remains competitive with its rivals.
“Splitscreen: A Love Story” and other finalists of Nokia’s film contest with Vimeo can all be seen on the phone maker’s channel at the video site.