The Disposable Film Festival, which starts this evening, has staked its remarkably quick six-year success on an uncanny ability to pinpoint, predict, and prepare for the future of film. Setting aside the obvious fact that everyone (and their dog) now has a camera almost all the time, this year brought a new wrinkle to the world of the bedroom filmmaker, as the field was further democratized by the explosion of services like SnapChat and Vine.
“It's what we've always been committed to–the technology is about access,” Disposable director Carlton Evans told me during a chat on the phone. “We've finally reached the point where something we did six years ago that was completely marginalized at the time is totally the thing.”
One of the festival's biggest and boldest ideas (and the one that started DFF), is that the art you make in your bedroom doesn’t have to stay there. Far from Momus’ quip that “on the web, everyone will be famous to 15 people,” films created with handheld, low-cost devices are finally breaking big in the mainstream. According to Carlton, “The big news this year is that Searching for Sugarman, which won an Oscar, was partially shot on an iPhone.” He [director Malik Bendjelloul] wouldn't have finished the film without the Super 8 filter on Instagram and his iPhone.” Like Bendjelloul, disposable filmmakers are starting to crop up in the larger world of film. Penny Lane, director of DFF 2012 tear-jerker The Voyagers and this year's How to Write an Autobiography (below), just premiered her first full-length feature, Our Nixon, at SXSW.
Penny Lane's How to Write and Autobiography (DFF 2013)
Not every success story has a happy ending. In Carlton’s words: “You can’t copyright a concept.” One of the festival’s 2011 films, Space Balloon, was subsequently ripped off for a Citibank commercial, which also contained elements of another news story that emerged in 2009. For every film that goes uncredited though, it seems there’s another entity catching the disposable spirit, like Volkswagen, who commissioned one of last year’s participants, the video collective Everynone, to create a similar video for their newest ad campaign.
Laughs! by Everynone (DFF 2011)
In addition to the main event tonight, the fest features the usual, fun-jammed weekend of parties and workshops, including a new addition that will definitely appeal to the city’s large foodie population. The event, Food Justice, was concocted by DFF and a few celebrity friends to highlight one of the themes for this year’s leitmotivs, food (duh!). Karl Haul of Perbacco created a special five course meal culled entirely from locally sourced ingredients and farms, and will be served (for a lucky few smart enough to buy tickets while there are still are some available) at a one-time only pop-up in the J. Rusten Furniture Studio, where the playfully local Claro Walnut “California” desk takes shape. In addition to the high-end nosh, short films will be screened during dinner, accompanied by guest speakers and custom cocktails. Whet your appetite below with What’s Cookin? by Noah Banks, one of the foodie flicks playing at this year’s festival.
Noah Banks' What's Cookin? (DFF 2013)
Given its predilection for keeping up with the times, one can only imagine that Disposable will continue to evolve at a rabid pace. Does that mean the festival itself will ever leave the big screen? When I asked Carlton, the answer was an emphatic ‘No.’ “It’s always going to be in the theater. These things deserve to be seen in front of an audience, on a screen, with surround sound, an introduction—the whole deal. In ten years, we'll be doing 3D. Probably in two years.”
Grab tickets to any of 6th Disposable Film Festival events on their webpage.