Cedar Rapids: Start your phone cameras — the 48 Hour Phones Only Film Fest kicks off today

48 Hour Phones Only Film Fest

Geonetric (415 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids) — Friday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m.

It’ll only last two days — 48 hours exactly. It won’t be a lights-camera-action affair, either; rather, it will consist of a frenetic weekend involving built-in flashlights, 1,080 pixels recorded at 30-60 frames per second (the standard specifications found in the iPhone 7) and little premeditation.

Participants in the 48 Hour Phones Only Film Festival, held in Cedar Rapids, will have from 5 p.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Sunday to script, film edit and score their own shorts over the weekend. The footage must be shot with cell phones, with film length capped at five minutes. The festival is free to the public, whether they wish to participate or attend the public screening. No registration is necessary.

Filmmakers can bring their own team, or build a team from attendees at the kickoff event (5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 at Geonetric (415 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids)). In addition to filmmakers, the organizers encourage actors and other storytelling aficionados to join in the fun.

Cedar Rapids at night. — photo by Kurt Zenisek

Trevor Carlson, a lead organizer on behalf of Train the Team, a strategy firm focused on team-based training, said the event was spurred by the idea of startup weekends. Often conducted in the business world, startup weekends gather a group of random entrepreneurs to pitch ideas on marketing ideas, apps, etc. Participants have a weekend to work together and present their finished product.

Instead of gathering in suits and ties, this festival is for people interested in indie films and filmmaking in a low pressure environment. At the kickoff event, Carlson and other organizers will reveal three specific requirements that must feature in contestants’ creations. After the 48-hour work period closes, contestants have multiple options for getting the digital file of their finished products to the organizers. The films will then be screened to the public and a panel of judges at Vault, which is located on the second floor of the Geonetric Building in the NewBo district.

“We’re kind of having a viewing party,” Carlson says, “with popcorn — and maybe beer.”

A panel of judges will then present different teams with awards, such as Best Film and Best Actor/Actress. There will also be a People’s Choice Award. The prizes for these awards range from screening the winners’ film at the upcoming Flyover Fashion Festival to free tickets to Englert Theater’s presentation of BiRDMAN LiVE with percussionist Antonio Sanchez’s live performance of the film’s score.

The group of judges is an eclectic bunch from around the corridor: Aly High, marketing director at the Englert Theater; Joe Tiefenthaler and Andrew Sherburne, directors at FilmScene; Kaitlyn Busbee, video producer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Jordan Anderson, an independent movie blogger based in Cedar Rapids; and Hannah Spina, a local actress and movie buff.

Carlson says the organizers are already concocting ideas for future film competitions. One that might show up this summer will operate similarly, but the footage will be done with Snapchat’s “My Story” feature, which is a collection short video clips that run no longer than 10 seconds publicly posted on one’s account.

Individuals of all levels and experience interested in storytelling, videography, acting or, simply, entertainment are urged to play a role. The productions are a balance between the impromptu and the methodical. There’s no time nor need for director’s cuts here. No second takes. The 48 Hour Phones Only Festival is an embrace of spontaneous, generative content in motion pictures for those inclined towards exploration in the do-it-yourself ethos.

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