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Disposable Film Fest

Filmmaking at Your Fingertips

The Disposable Film Festival is anything but. Eric Slatkin and Carlton Evans created the festival in 2007 not to screen throwaway films, but to celebrate the emergence of a new type of filmmaking: those on more, well, disposable formats such as cell phones, pocket camcorders and other inexpensive, personal gadgets.

This year’s festival takes place from March 24th to 27th and “celebrates the new accessibility of filmmaking,” says Carlton Evans, co-founder and festival director.

Now that everyone has an iPhone equipped with an HD video camera, or any number of inexpensive video cameras, as well as the accessibility and ease of editing software and distribution channels like YouTube and Vimeo, anyone can become a filmmaker.

“What [the festival] offers is for people to show their films in traditional theatre venues,” Evans says.

He rightly observes that we’re used to seeing such films on smaller iPhone and laptop screens. Rarely do we get to view them on such a grand screen like San Francisco’s famed Castro Theatre.

While Web cams and Flip cameras may already seem like ancient technology, this year offers the world’s first film made on a video game console. Being shown at full resolution for the first time on the Castro’s screen, the film was made using a hacked Xbox Kinect. As this type of emerging filmmaking is always moving forward, it’s also bridging the gap between “disposable” and mainstream film.

This year, in particular, “the story is being told in more sophisticated ways,” Evans says. This year’s festival will see more narrative and documentary films than ever before. And the films this year are longer — like more traditional short films — than year’s past, when films were only a few minutes long.

The success of films like Catfish and Paranormal Activity illustrates that this type of homemade filmmaking isn’t just a hobby, but is the very future of filmmaking.

“The kind of stuff we’re showing, we’re starting to see more and more in mainstream film, and we’re also starting to see some of the techniques in mainstream film more and more in this kind of filmmaking,” Evans says.

With 15 international partners, and growing, the film festival is sending its films all over the world. If that doesn’t prove their importance, what does?

But the festival doesn’t just premiere films, it also helps those burgeoning filmmakers realize their dream. In addition to providing a venue for emerging filmmakers, there are several exciting workshops, as well as some other entertainment options:

Pomplamoose: Workshop and Concert (Saturday, March 26) — This is, perhaps, the most exciting event of the festival. Music/video heroes Pomplamoose (from those car commercials) made a name with “VideoSongs,” creating YouTube videos instead of iTunes singles or albums. The group will be on hand for a VideoSong workshop followed by an incredibly rare live show.

Hair and Diamonds: A Filmmaker Spotlight (Saturday, March 26) — Philadelphia video artist Christopher McManus will talk about his success as a filmmaker on Vimeo. Vimeo’s own Andrea Allen will also be in attendance for a deeper discussion with McManus.

How to Become a Disposable DePalma: An Industry Panel and Schmoozewich (Friday, March 25) — This one’s for all of you ready to be the next Brian DePalma (get it!). So, you have your short film. Now what? This event will feature industry bigwigs telling you exactly how to take that next step. Who knows, you may even strike up that conversation that’ll give your career the jumpstart you’ve been waiting for.

Lights. Camera. Social Action: A Panel on Disposable Film and Change (Sunday, March 27) — As Carlton Evans says, this panel will discuss “how to use inexpensive cameras in order to tell the story of your cause.” With San Francisco being such a great place for causes to be heard, this discussion is sure to be very exciting and, of course, informative.

Whether you’re a film appreciator or filmmaker, the Disposable Film Fest offers the future, and present, of the medium. It shows that film is what you want it to be and with everything at our fingertips, we’re all filmmakers in some capacity. But let’s end with some true words from the Festival Director, Carlton Evans: “We’re seeing films that never would’ve been made because of this technology.” Amen.