Grandparents star in winning cell phone movie

/ Source: The Associated Press

A film starring a student's grandparents was named the winner of a college's contest for 30-second movies shot entirely on cell phones.

Ithaca College junior Mike Potter, from Broomfield, Colo., won the $5,000 grand prize Monday in the first CellFlix Festival, said Dianne Lynch, dean of Ithaca's communications school, which sponsored the contest.

Potter's piece was titled "Cheat." In it, his grandfather plays a game with his grandmother while reading the Sunday newspaper. He reads a headline and rewards her with a kiss if she guesses correctly whether it's true or false.

"I've got to tell you something. Sometimes I cheat," the grandfather says in a solo shot, a boyish grin growing across his face.

The contest was open to high school and college students anywhere. The college received 178 submissions, Lynch said.

Potter's film was chosen from 10 finalists.

"It's a 30-second love story, with a buildup and a payoff," said David Lebow, one of the two grand prize judges, an executive vice president and general manager of AOL Media Networks, and an Ithaca College alumnus. The other was Bolivian filmmaker Rodrigo Bellott, also an Ithaca College graduate, who described Potter's film as "Contagious. Lovable. Effective."

The idea for the film came from sitting at dinner with his grandparents, Potter said.

"I saw something in their interactions, how much fun they have together. ... My hope was that if I had fun with it, other people would, and that if my grandparents could make me laugh, they could make other people laugh," said Potter, who is majoring in television-radio, business administration, and computer information systems.

The rules were simple: There must be a story, a narrative and sound, and the film must be shot on a cell phone. Editing could be done digitally on a computer or on a cell phone with editing functions.

The submissions were reviewed by a panel of film students and faculty members, which selected 10 finalists. Lebow and Bellott selected the winner from the 10 finalists in a "blind" review, without any outside information on the entry, Lynch said.

The finalists included two high school students and two submissions from foreign countries. Four finalists were Ithaca College students.