Saturday, February 21, 2009 12:00 AM
Actor Kevin Spacey, who founded the website TriggerStreet.com to encourage short-film makers to distribute content through the web, attended Mobile World Congress yesterday to tell the entertainment industry that mobile phones will soon offer a similar opportunity. Spacey was in attendance as part of a mobile phone film festival being thrown by MOFILM, a company that sources short-films for mobile phones and distributes them through carriers and other content companies. The first MOFILM film festival awarded submissions from amateur and professional film-makers for movies no longer than five minutes in length. Release.
The grand prize went to English as a Second Language, co-written by Terry Rossio and Jocelyn Staymat, and co-directed by Frank Chindamo. Chindamo is a professor at University of Southern California, where he teaches students about shooting films for mobile phones, and also works for ROK (LSE: ROKE) Entertainment-owned is president and chief creative officer of Fun Little Movies, which makes films for mobile phones. (ROK is an investor.) The comedy is about a British man who tries out speed dating, but refuses to talk because the American women too easily fall for his accent instead of his personality. The Grand prize included a Chevrolet Cruze, a car that has yet to hit the market.
Despite the immense interest and quality submissions that the first-ever MOFILM film festival received, Chindamo cautioned that it's an extremely tough business. Revenues come from subscription fees by the end user or from ads that play during the film. Because it's so nascent, budgets for the films are extraordinarily low. The economics brought out the activist in Spacey, who believes that once you make the film, you have to "send the elevator back down." He stressed, "It's hugely important and it's a responsibility of every one of us. You have to send the elevator back down. It doesn't matter where you are in life because there's someone only one floor down from you. It's your obligation to do that, so we don't hear the young people always asking for an opportunity and a chance." Spacey hopes to add mobile phone films to TriggerStreet.com. "It's one of the things that would be great for our members," he said. "I think why there's no reason in the world not to, as long as we can figure out a way to compensate the content makers. Someone once asked me 'how can we get more content?', and I said, 'Pay them'."