An Interview with Walthamstow Smartphone Film Festival organisers Vera and Natalia


Who are you and what is the Walthamstow Smartphone Film Festival?



Walthamstow Smartphone Film Festival is a night of #shortfilms that have been created using a smartphone or similar device. It is part of a larger project called Last Frame Club, which started in the borough of Waltham Forest back in April. Our aim is to provide affordable filmmaking workshops and screen films, predominantly documentary, from and about underrepresented people. The festival will be a night of screenings, discussion panels and networking to encourage those already working in film and those just starting out to come together to appreciate digital storytelling and to help make #filmmaking more accessible.


What are the benefits of running a film festival where the submissions are all filmed on a smartphone?


Film equipment is often expensive and requires a real skill to operate. Smartphones are accessible, affordable and most people are comfortable operating one. We wanted to show audiences that some really exciting stuff is being created on a device that we carry around with us almost all of the time! Our aim is to encourage the audience to leave thinking 'I could have a go at that' and go out and shoot something. Whether that's a #documentary, music video or even #animation - we'll be showcasing all kinds of styles at the festival to show how creative you can be with little equipment. We hope that events like this show the audience that if there's a story that needs telling, they might already have the means to tell it.


What are the challenges of running a film festival?


There's a lot...We run an annual documentary film festival too which takes up to 9 months of the year to organise. So time is a big challenge - there's never enough! Also selecting and programming films is a difficult task that requires a lot of patience. Getting the balance of a programme right and showcasing a varied mix of styles takes time and thought. We also get more films than we can show so inevitably you reject good films, which is always a shame.


What advice do you have for filmmakers looking to submit?


Pay attention to your sound! We can't stress this enough. We've had to reject great stories purely on the basis that the sound is inaudible. Bad sound is impossible for audiences to sit through.


Look at the requirements of the festival you are submitting to - lots of filmmakers send incomplete submissions that are missing important information. Don't assume a festival will chase you down for your film, especially the larger ones - there's a lot of competition out there! Treat it a bit like a job application - what makes you and your film stand out in the crowd?


Finally, make something you care about and put your own mark on it. Don't just recycle stories and ideas. If you feel strongly about something, show it.


Is there anything special audiences can look forward to at the next event?


We're pretty excited to see the results of a smartphone workshop we held with our friends at Rainbow Collective. Students were given just 3 weeks from completing the workshop to go out and shoot a documentary on their phone about women in their community. Most had no prior filmmaking experience and we hope the results encourage others to go make their own films too. There's also some great filmmakers, writers and festival programmers on the jury that will be in attendance to chat all things film!


Which filmmaker would you most like to see submit a film shot on a smartphone?


This is difficult...Perhaps Agnes Varda? We would love to see older filmmakers submit smartphone films.


Where can people find more information?


All of the info for this event and others can be found on our website - https://www.lastframeclub.com but please do give us a follow on social media for more frequent updates (Facebook & Twitter)


What would you say if you were a dolphin?


I'd ask if you had a release form for this interview, as all good documentarians would.

Find out more about the Walthamstow Smartphone Film Fest.