In journalism there is this concept called the “iceberg theory” which I believe in, not just in journalism but in a lot of things, especially in the phenomenon of how things come to be in society. The iceberg theory, in my own words, is the belief that underneath the stories we hear about is the “real” story. That what we see and hear is just the tip of the iceberg.
When it comes to what I am very passionate about, mobile film, people are calling a “movement” a “revolution,” but I refer to it as an emerging underground community and culture.
There is a lot of noise right now due to the media attention given to a filmmaker who made a feature film with iPhone(s). For us who have been “moving” this idea along for many years (as of now and wow how time flies) this gets us excited. But we experienced it before when the media made another story famous regarding a feature film that screened at Sundance. It’s been a couple years since that story came out and a lot of people in the film industry heard of it. What these stories do is bring validation to the “movement” and the “revolution.” But most importantly, from my view point, it does much more.
It makes the tip of the iceberg bigger. People from a greater distance may be noticing. Of course, people involved in the film industry can see it, but it’s the people who are not involved who had not seen or heard about mobile filmmaking who are now noticing.
An iceberg grows into a huge rock of ice underneath the surface. As it grows, it begins to push its tip higher above the surface. And as curiosity about it attracts people, some are willing to go for a dive and take a look underneath. The filmmakers who have gone for a dive and seen what there is are saying, “Oooh!” They are adding substance to what is there and helping it grow.
I know about a few pioneers in the mobile film industry who made a decision to not continue to be a part of the force behind this. You can break a piece off an iceberg but it has no effect. Because once a piece of ice has grown into an iceberg it can bring down the unsinkable Titanic. Your idea will grow with or without you. Much like a child born who is going to grow and exist with or without parents. Back when I launched this in 2009, my interest was more in getting the word out and building a community of people willing to try it and experience it. I offered to put films shot with a tiny mobile phone unto a big screen and roll out the red carpet and bring people together in San Diego. Because I believed, and still believe, that together we are stronger. Sure, there were the nay-sayers who did not believe or laughed at it privately, and publicly commented on social media, etc.
When you are creating something from an idea, no matter what it is…it’s good to invest in a community. The people. The story. The reason this grew into an iceberg is the story many people around the world hid in their pocket, and no–I don’t mean the mobile phone, I mean their dream to make films. There were people who wanted to make professional videos for their business or someone else’s business, and there were people who wanted to and dreamed about making movies and being a director, a cinematographer, etc. There are people who want to act in films and play characters in films, too. Everyone with a camera which doesn’t take an engineer and an entire crew to work, can make a film. The camera which received the most attention, has been the DSLR camera for the past eight or so years. But there was another camera being used at about the same time which a lot of people were not aware of. That was the camera on the phone.
People believed it was okay to make cute videos for YouTube with mobile phones. It was good for sharing their skating adventures with their friends on Instagram and get a following. But what was actually happening underneath the surface, was that people were telling stories using the camera on their phones making short films. So when our film festival began to promote a platform that would treat their films and show these filmmakers the respect other filmmakers received, they turned their heads and allowed themselves to be inspired by each other. I remember our first film festival, when a filmmaker came from Macedonia and other filmmakers came from L.A. Even a Mom in San Diego, who was a novice at filmmaking made a film with her kids, inspired by our call for films, and also came to the festival. They all got together and met in person. They all shared stories with each other on how they made their films. They had “battle” stories and stories of success to share. They inspired each other. They came out of it realizing that the unconventional has its merits and benefits. That you don’t have to follow the means with which everyone else is doing something. That it’s okay to do something your own way using what you have.
Phone manufacturers began to get serious about the cameras on the phone. I remember a few years ago when the competition between smartphone brands was rampant and getting a lot of publicity. Which phone had the best camera? Who cares? All phones now have better cameras than they did in 2011 and 2012. All phones have cameras which you can use to make films which will play nicely on a big screen. But the incentive was the demand. The fact that people were looking for phones to buy with better cameras, and that films shot with phone cameras were getting recognition and had their own film festivals put pressure on manufacturers. And that was the reason I began to promote the idea so soon. Then the iPhone 4 came out with 720 HD and it only confirmed that my intuition was correct. Because the history of the camera, before the phone, shares a story about how the motion picture industry was born–it was pretty obvious that the cell phone industry would follow the same path. So before video was available in cell phone cameras, I knew video would follow that path. I just had to wait for it to happen. But then I had to wait even more because they were not ready for the big screen until later.
The little block of ice was born before video cameras were manufactured on phones. But what grew inside me was a desire to get it going. But having the patience and determination to wait for a better time to bring the idea into something that could grow into an iceberg, that was about bringing it to the big screen.
Getting a video or film online into a website like YouTube was not my goal. That was already in existence. My vision was about giving filmmakers the ability to realize their dream with a phone camera by saying, “Yes you can make a film but what I am offering you is to get it into a film festival like any other film festival available for independent filmmakers. Participating in a Q&A Panel and winning a trophy, walking the red carpet, networking with people in the industry, etc.”
That is why the iceberg began to grow, I believe, to the point that the tip is showing and the tip is growing with it. And yes, there will always be forces at work underneath the surface. The community and the culture of mobile filmmakers all over the world are massive and still growing. And more will emerge as heroes in the mobile film industry and some Hollywood famed filmmakers and actors will want to be a part of the idea. But one of them here and one of them there, those are not what sustain the iceberg. They are the ones which energize the force underneath and give strength and inspire them. And soon, more people will notice this emerging industry. The community will continue to grow and when most people are taking part of it it will become the mainstream. But there is something else I would like to point out. Because my goal is not just to realize dreams of filmmakers who wish to make films. I am also working to prove to everyone else, not in the film industry, that storytelling is one of the most important means of communication in the world. Storytelling connects all of us in many ways. And I truly believe the best way to share stories universally is through film and video, and guess what? Everyone can do it their own way. The dentist has stories, the accountant has stories, the retired man or woman in their seventies and eighties has stories and the children have stories. All of them have smartphones, or access to them, and most of them know how to aim the phone and press record.
I believe a lot of people have big ideas and visions. I am no better than anyone else. I am also not the only one who had this idea and vision. I was not aware that there were others in the world who shared my vision. The reason I am sharing my story is to help others believe that their ideas, and that their vision can be realized. That you can also create an iceberg of your own. If you have an idea and you want to realize the idea, then think of the iceberg theory. You may begin with a little snowflake and turn it into a block of ice. Remember that big ideas start as small little actions and small steps can take big strides in the story that is one day history in the making. Don’t always wait to be inspired by someone else to put your ideas into action. Inspire yourself by believing that if you have a vision for something then you can realize it into an iceberg and not even the Titanic can take you down. Do you have an iceberg idea or a dream in your pocket? What is your iceberg?