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By Film Threat Staff | October 27, 2006

A very different film festival took place in Los Angeles last night with cinema buffs huddled around cell phones rather than gazing up at the big screen to view and vote for their favorite short movie. More than 200 attendees cast their votes in real time via text messaging powered by to select the $3,000 Jury Prize winning film – a 90 second comedy entitled “Pumpkin” by Matt Paige of Sante Fe, New Mexico. An alum of the College of Sante Fe where he’s now an adjunct professor teaching film production, Paige is originally from Turner, Maine. The inaugural Third Screen Film FestivalTM (TSFF) at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills on October 26 was presented by Columbia College Chicago and its premiere Semester in L.A. program, in partnership with Nano, America’s first short film channel available wirelessly on MobiTV service.

“Our goal for the Third Screen Film Fest was to provide student and non-student filmmakers alike with an innovative way to distribute and gain exposure for their work,” said Jon Katzman, Director of TSFF and Columbia College Chicago’s Semester in L.A. program. “It was also important for us to provide filmmakers with access to our professional judging panel of industry movers and shakers who have the power to help launch their careers in this exciting new world of wireless entertainment.”

Hundreds of short films, eight minutes and under in length, were submitted to TSFF from June through September. The festival awarded its top prize — a $10,000 filmmaker grant — to the TSFF film that received the most votes overall — “The Lost” by Todd Spence of Glendale, Calif. Spence, originally from Farmington, Missouri, also won the honor of having his award-winning film air on the flagship GoTV Super Channel on Sprint. He completed his homage to the horror film genre as a student at Webster University in St. Louis and has spent the last two years working in film and television production in Los Angeles. Spence plans to use his TSFF prize to fund his next indie film project.

The Mobile Award was presented to the film that received the most votes via text messaging – “Slideshow” by Tim Saccardo of Hollywood, Calif., who received an Indy Production Package provided by The Hollywood Cheat Sheet, featuring a camera package rental from Big Vision Rentals, Burbank (; cast and crew refreshments courtesy of Kit & Kaboodle Craft Services (; production music from The Music Bakery (; and discounts on all production related products and services from pre-to-post production at A Boston College grad originally from Middletown, RI who moved to Hollywood two years ago from New York City where he completed his winning six minute short film, Saccardo has several projects in development that he will now be able to put into production using his prize.

Student award winners – brothers Pedro and Ramiro Castro of Chicago, IL received a free session from Jeffrey Gordon’s acclaimed, and their winning film “The Great Poker Chase” will also air on mtvU — MTV’s 24-hour college network broadcasted to more than 730 campuses and 6.8 million students nationwide – and the network’s all access broadband channel, mtvU Über at, and mtvU Wireless. The brothers made this Keystone Cops chase film spoof at the University of Chicago.

Additionally, five filmmakers received “Avid Liquid” special effects packages and three filmmakers won props and costumes from

All of the winning TSFF films will be shown throughout the year on Nano on Demand, which is available in more than 16 million households, and at, which will continue to accept short films in competition offering more chances for filmmakers to win prizes and recognition for their work.

The event featured a lively, hour-long panel discussion on “What will be the Killer App in Wireless Entertainment” covering the importance of viral, grassroots and partnership marketing, the success of Lonely Girl 15, convergence, user generated content and more. Panelists included:

* Jon Katzman, Director, TSFF and Semester in L.A., Columbia College Chicago who served as moderator
* David Gale, Executive Vice President of New Media, MTV Networks (TSFF panelist and judge)
* Virginia Heffernan, Television Critic, New York Times
* Chris Gore, Founder, (TSFF panelist and judge)
* Daniel Tibbets, Executive Vice President, GoTV Networks (TSFF panelist and judge)
* Rachel McClean, Vice President, Mobile Content, InfoSpace
* Suzanne Zizzi, Senior Vice President, Lion Rock Productions (TSFF panelist and judge)
* James Choi, Manager, Manager of Movies, IFILM

In terms of predicting the “killer app” for wireless entertainment, Heffernan bet on emotionally resonant content that “breaks a frame,” whether through virtuosity or rage, as well as response videos. Gore supports “high concept but simple” ideas such as “Design Fix” — two minute tips on how to decorate your house or apartment,” as the secret to success. Tibbets looks for core consumers seeking 24/7 content on whatever they’re passionate about – from hip hop to fantasy sports or news. Zizzi believes “the more outlets for creativity the better in our business” and Gale said “I’ll know it when I see it – I don’t want to pre-dispose what it will be. Every day I hear new ideas and that’s the exciting part of working in this growing space which is helping to democratize the entertainment business.”

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