Spark unveils the inaugural Tall Shorts Film Festival

Spark, Facebook and Colenso have joined forces to create the Tall Shorts Film Festival, flipping the traditional landscape film format on its side with a vertical-format film festival for the mobile age.

Kiwi film hero and ex-New Zealander of the year Taika Waititi will judge the entries, with the entire showing and judging conducted through the Facebook Live platform. The winner will win $10,000 and be promoted on Spark platforms.

The festival’s call for entries asks that submissions be no longer than two minutes, that they are shot in portrait format and that they incorporate the theme of light. Waititi will be looking for films that embrace the format for storytelling and composition.

Sarah Williams, head of brand, communications and experience for Spark says, “Right now in New Zealand we have over three million potential filmmakers, each carrying a powerful camera in their pocket. The Tall Shorts Festival honours their format of choice for capturing and sharing their lives, elevating it from our everyday social feeds to its own festival.”

To exemplify the kind of creative filmmaking that can be made in mobile format, Spark has released a short film called Dot. The clip is a love story with a twist, based on the ‘three dots’ scene from the Spark’s ‘Little can be Huge’ brand platform launched last year.

Additionally, the festival ties in with Sparks brand platform, which has continuously played out since last year. The ‘Little can be Huge’ theme argues that big things come in small packages, with a focus on the small victories in life.

Dan Wright, executive creative director at Colenso, argues that the vertical format provides a creative challenge for storytelling and looks forward to seeing what people can conjure up.

Andy Blood, creative strategist at Facebook adds: “Orson Wells said something like, ‘The enemy of art is the absence of limitation’, so it’s nice to see a film festival with a new limitation: that entries must be shot in portrait format.”

Blood accepts the older generation might find it tricky, whereas younger film-makers won’t think twice about it. He later shares the possibilities of working with native tools such as camera AR, Boomerang, Gifs, Live, which offers genre-bending entries and offering genre-bending entries.

“As The Guardian just wrote (about Steven Soderbergh’s made on iPhone movie ‘Unsane’): ‘It’s the skill of a great artist to turn a limitation into a strength, and indeed, Soderbergh has harnessed the potential of the gizmo in your pocket to create a striking and affecting new visual dialect.’ This is a new visual language. I can’t wait to be wowed.”

Entries are open from 1 April to 13 May. To enter, contestants must post their films to the festival’s Facebook page where it will be checked against the competition rules before appearing on the wall, with live judging will take place on the evening of 20 May.

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