The Creators' Junction was held to launch this year's Smartphone Film Competition, supported by Sony. The event brought together filmmakers and creators to explore their passion and talent, as well as the future of film and creative trends.

The Smartphone Film Competition was a brand-new category in SSFF & ASIA this year, and it broke the record for new entries. This category accepted short films under 25 minutes that were shot with a smartphone. Supported by Sony Xperia, the competition was established to expand filmmakers' horizons and challenge directors to create a new visual style unique to smartphones.

The panel discussion took place June 12, 2021, in Ginza Sony Park and featured director Eiji Uchida, pop group Ikimonogakari's Yoshiki Mizuno, and SSFF & ASIA President Tetsuya Bessho.

Guests included the Japanese directors of the short films nominated in the competition as well as 10 directors from the NEO Japan Competition.

You can watch the Creators' Junction with English translations below!

Festival president Tetsuya Bessho gave the opening remarks along with Takaki Nakadai of Sony Group Inc. Both were excited that this year's SSFF & ASIA and the new Smartphone Film Competition would be a great platform for different kinds of creativity and technology.

Bessho then welcomed director Eiji Uchida and songwriter Yoshiki Mizuno from the group Ikimonogakari. They held a discussion on Uchida's fantasy short film Stardust Children, which was based on a submitted story based on Ikimonogakari's song "Kirakira ni Hikaru."

It was shot on a Sony Xperia.

You can watch the film here!

Mizuno said over 1,400 short stories based on "Kirakira ni Hikaru" were submitted.

Uchida said, "I was excited about the extraordinary process of having stories submitted based on a song, then making a film based on that story. I always have a song to listen to that suits the movie I’m making. So this project was a perfect fit for me.”

It just goes to show that an idea can start anywhere, and become anything you want it to! And you don't have to have the latest and greatest mirrorless camera to shoot it.

Mizuno told the audience, “Because the story of Stardust Children was a fantasy, my imagination began working overtime to picture a world as told in the story.”

Uchida said, "Fantasy costs a lot of money to make and is especially difficult to make in Japan. I felt like this was a challenge from the songwriter.”

Uchida provided a glimpse into how the film was shot with the Xperia attached to the actor’s head, using slow-motion functions, and even dropping the smartphone from the top of a cliff.

Dsc06266Credit: SSFF & ASIA

Uchida said it took a week to create the music, two months to prepare, three days to shoot, and one to two days to edit the short film.

During the Q&A portion of the event, one of the invited creators in the audience asked what the panelists thought of vertical videos. It's a divisive topic among film fans and directors, but platforms like Instagram and TikTok have made the orientation more accessible and common.

Uchida, who also served as a juror in the Smartphone Film Competition, said, "There were many vertical short films in this competition. Documentaries seem more real when viewed in a vertical format and I want to try it myself."

Mizuno said, "I feel that many vertical videos are limited by the format and are shot on their smartphones. If we return to a blank slate, the vertical format may become more widespread."

Both encouraged creators to continue pushing the boundaries and working with the tools at their disposal.

MIzuno said, "Both video and music have evolved. Listening to music with video has become common, and musicians are looking for someone to make videos. It makes me happy to meet creators from various fields that I don't usually come across. I would like to participate and support in various creative projects, including short films."

Check out more from SSFF & ASIA 2021 here!