By Aaron Blevins, 10/11/2012
Film festival focuses on using the latest technology
Christopher Coppola wants to turn your phone into something more than a means to access the Internet, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He wants to use it to access your soul.
Coppola runs Project Access Hollywood (PAH), which aims to pair people with everyday electronics and make paintbrushes out of video cameras and smartphones — unearthing the creativity in people through a series of contests during a weeklong festival.
“[Consumer technology products are] a tool, but we’re also living in a world that’s more visual,” Coppola said. “I think people need to learn a visual syntax.”
While many people can be intimidated by technology or have no prior filmmaking experience, PAH-Fest provides participants with “pro-sumer” technology, teaches them how to use it and then challenges them with video and photography contests.
Coppola said he’s always astonished by what the participants come up with — especially since they have no prior experience and may not be familiar with the technology.
“It’s amazing. A lot of times, I’m so blown away,” he said, referencing a little girl’s video that was about her deceased father. It was not art student quality, but that was beside the point. “It didn’t matter. It went right to your heart.”
The Mobiflicks Competition asks teams of participants to submit short story ideas prior to the festival, and if selected, they are given the equipment and personnel needed to complete a six-minute film during the festival.
The Cellphone Art contest calls for a one-minute cell phone video using a topic given before the contest, and the DigiPortraits contest asks participants to create a short video portrait of a person.
PAH-Fest also offers a Circus Vision Challenge, which calls for a visual treasure hunt to capture a circus theme; the Tone Poem, a camera contest to express musical composition; and Three Shot Flick, an art film contest involving a historical landmark.
The next installment of PAH-Fest will run from Oct. 20 to Oct. 27 at Los Angeles City College. Coppola said organizers have held approximately 40 festivals across the country and internationally. However, Los Angeles is practically the event’s capital, he said.
PAH-Fest stems from Coppola’s involvement in Flicks on 66 Film Festival, which had the same concept but turned into a student film festival. He said he wanted to bring a “common man” aspect to the festival, and after reviewing entries, selected a film from a man who inevitably denied Coppola’s offer appear at the festival in person.
Coppola said the man didn’t think he would win, and when he did, he declined because he had physical abnormalities stemming from an incident in which he was electrically shocked. Coppola persuaded the man to attend, and when it was finished, he had opened up substantially and even gave a “beautiful” speech.
The contest can be healing for participants and for Coppola, who has been directing movies since 1988 and comes from a family with roots in the industry. He said it’s easy to get wrapped up in the business aspect of moviemaking.
“You forget about the magic of making film,” Coppola said. “You get jaded.”
People of all ages are encouraged to attend. Coppola said he likes to have a good mix of ages, as younger people are more technologically savvy and older people have more perspective. He said young people have access to a lot of information, but no wisdom.
“That’s very important to me because I like to join old school and new school,” Coppola added.
He said participation has been good in Los Angeles, though he’s never had a submission from the Mid-City area, which he would like to see since he’s lived the majority of his life in the Fairfax District. PAH-Fest has received entries from Koreatown, though. Coppola stressed that anyone can participate, and the event is free.
“Even in the smallest village in India, there’s always somebody with a cell phone that shoots video,” he said.
For more information or to submit an entry, visit www.pahfest.org.