Film and TV

The Art of Mobile-Phone Movies Is Real

A still from Kyle Jones's Incredibleness from a recent mobile phone film festival at Rec Room.
A still from Kyle Jones's Incredibleness from a recent mobile phone film festival at Rec Room. Courtesy of Rec Room
Who cares if you’ve never made a movie? Give it a shot. It might actually turn out pretty good.

That’s where Rec Room cofounders Stephanie Wittel-Wachs and Matt Hune are coming from. They both teach for a living so they’re all about can-do, not can-don’t.

“Everyone can be creative and make something,” says Wittel-Wachs, the co-creator of Le Spring Film Festival de Mobile Phone, which is still accepting entries for short and “feature” films.

A scene from Johnathon (or Existential Nightmare of All Millennials Everywhere) by Tasha Gorel and Gabe Regojo.
Courtesy of Rec Room
The mobile phone movie fest will showcase an hourlong screening of 12 to 15 films, selected by a panel of judges, from filmmakers of any/no experience level.

“Short films” are three minutes and under, and anything over three minutes is considered a “feature.” Winners of the quarterly fest, now in its third edition, receive prizes (wine, T-shirts, gift cards) and a photograph in front of a Sundance Film Festival-looking background.

“It’s very laid-back,” says Wittel-Wachs, who says Rec Room just recently scored an alcohol permit so now it’s serving beer and wine. “We like to make it really fun.”

Jeromy Barber and Jacky Welborn following their win at the inaugural Mobile Phone Film Fest.
Courtesy of Rec Room
Movies entirely shot on a mobile phone can’t be compelling or artistic, right? You’re mental.

The Rec Room receives a fair share of horror movies (“lots of cutting off of limbs, blood everywhere”) and less-is-more fare, such as a close-up of a cat’s face that Wittel-Wachs describes as fascinating.

Then there are movies like Impresiones de Galveston by Mexican filmmaker Mariela Dominguez. The simple and beautiful 20-minute film shows street scenes as well as Galveston Bay’s perma-wind blowing things in every direction.

A still from Impresiones de Galveston by Mariela Dominguez
Courtesy of Rec Room
Wittel-Wachs has never created a movie before, but she’s thinking about making her debut at the upcoming fest. “I have great footage of my kid eating pasta from ages zero to three,” she says.

Might it be feature-length, a.k.a. more than three minutes in length?

“Probably. She eats a lot of pasta.”

Le Spring Film Festival de Mobile Phone is scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at the Rec Room, 100 Jackson. The submission deadline is March 19. Entry to the screening is $5. For more information, call 713-344-1291 or see
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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen