Interview with Andy Baker C.E.O of MOFILM

Andy Baker CEO & Co-Founder of MOFILM

Andy began MOFILM with Ralph Cochrane and & Jeffrey Merrihue after delivering the pioneering Sundance Global Short Film Festival for Mobile in collaboration with the GSM Association, which first saw world-famous filmmakers produce made-for-mobile films.  Andy was previously CEO at grounding breaking digital media company DX3, an early pioneer of downloadable music.  He has also managed international licensed music and content for service providers globally, with a particular interest in mobile and the African market. We interviewed him during the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.

Interview by Fab Poller

Fab Poller: Can you tell us about the process, the creative steps involved in creating the competition:

Andy Baker: There are 3 key elements, first is our events.We have several events around the world.

MOFILM is sponsor of  the Tribeca Film Festival this year, we are also the main sponsor of the London Film Festival and we are announcing today that will also be the main sponsor for the Shanghai Film Festival. So having worldwide key events we can take directors to, is important for us.

Then we have brands all over the world wanting to participate, so we recruit brands and then we set up the competition and from that basis each brand will give us a brief that we supply to the public to go out there and create. We had 1500 entries this year, so we motivated 1500 people to go make  and edit a film this year!! It is a major challenge!

Some entrants work with 10 or 20 actors, one of our winners had 30 actors! you have to direct and edit. it’s a lot of work! The fact that we can motivate people to do that is astonishing!

FP: How do you approach the different brands? What is the initial response? Do they immediately  grasp the concept of the competition?

AB: There is a large element of trust, we have some of the most biggest brands working with us. This is crucial for us, so we are not going to go out there and do something these brands probably would not do themselves. We make sure it is clean, we are not going to expose them to anyone who is potentially a risk and we basically make sure to get great creative work done.

FP: What do you think are the main criterias for a good film, what do you want to see?

AB: We want to give directors creativity and so if you tie it down to a few things and say ‘that’s exactly what we want’,  you will not allow this creativity to take place. A brand gets to see its own product with a different set of eyes. If you tell directors “that’s what I want” well you do not give them enough room for creativity. We have to convince the brand to give them that.

FP: What would you say are the most difficult things for young directors when entering this competition ?

AB: We have not seen any particular resistance, when they initially come to us, it is about the editing process. We have a team of editors working with us. Editors sometimes go back, make comments, maybe say: “this is a very good piece however it is TV advertising, every second of this film costs 10,000 pounds!! Do you really need 96 seconds? Do you need  a 4 seconds shot of that lady speak?, for example, or ‘Think about your 96 seconds’. They give them advice: ‘Be tight with your editing get it hot, get it sharp, make sure the voice over is correct” etc. If a 90 seconds ad can be cut down to 60 seconds, it is even better.

FPDo they try to push a bit or argue you know..the usual ‘I really need this shot in there’

AB: The guys who are giving feedback are global professionals, most contestants say they can not get this sort of feedback anywhere else, so they are very open to suggestions and feedback. Most people do not want to give anything away. If I am a really good editor, I am not going to tell you why I am a real good editor otherwise I might not get paid to work on my next film. So MOFILM helps them, gives them creative freedom, gives them information and this time the output has been fantastic!

FP: You mentioned earlier The Tribeca Film Festival in New York, how did you approach them?

FP: They approached us!! they have seen the work we did in London and so then we did it in New york.We are re looking for a 3D Festival for this year, we have been looking for one in Asia, and Shanghai has approached us. We have been doing this effectively for the last 12 months and we are doing a lot.We enjoy what we do!

FP: Do you also work with the Cannes Film Festival?

AB: Jerome Paillard is a friend of ours and I know Jerome well but it is a bit more difficult with Cannes because it’s a government funded Festival, and their key sponsors are mainly French major brands..and I love the french to death but you know…it’s a bit more complicated!

FP: MOFILM has worked with people like Robert Redford, Kevin Spacey and Spike Lee, again how did you approach them? Was the potential of mobile content used as a platform to showcase talents, obvious to them?

AB:We were asked by Bob to work on a project and he felt he wanted to give back and offered to work with us. He offered his services. It was Bob who introduced us to Kevin. So you can see the different steps of the process and the evolution of MOFILM morphing into what it is today. These major celebrities have helped us getting where we are today. People like Jon (Landau) pushes the boundaries of technology,  so we have two who are creative geniuses when it comes to direct films, one is a great actor. Now we have a technical guy who understands how to engage an audience at a level nobody has ever achieved.

FP: What evolution do you foresee in the next couple of years in terms of mobile content.

Devices are getting faster, it’s going to be TV in 5 to ten years, you will be able to get as many channels as you want, as much content as you want. The goal is to provide to right piece of content to people, now the ads can not always be shown they way they are presented today on mobile devices so you need to be able to have multiple apps. I don’t want to just give people the same amount of apps as anyone else. I would like  to give people sixty more different apps all witty, all funny  all worth watching. That way, it is more engaging. That might happen we don’t know..we will see

FP: Can you tell us about your work with GSM Association?

AB: We have been partners now for three years and we have helped support Mobile World Congress in Barcelona throughout people we bring such as Kevin spacey, Robert Redford, Jon landau. So they understand we are bringing a huge part of the press because our organization focuses on this event and in return GSM allows us to do what we need to do. Jon Landau will give awards out tonight for example. He will get a chance to speak to the audience. So we don’t really need to have a stand at the exhibition. Jon Landau’s attendance is big  enough for us.

FP: You have been working with companies such as Blackberry, have you been invited to create applications for Film Festivals?

AB: We are looking into doing something for London (Film Festival). You have to think about content in a way that is suitable for a mobile phones, it’s getting easy now and that is a good thing, you see that a lot around GSM. Most things you see that exists on websites it exists on a database and so as long as I can get to that information I can get it on a mobile phone and that is what has changed and it will continue to improve.

FP: What are MOFILM’s future projects?

AB: A 3D film competition maybe!! (alluding to what was said during the press conference with Jon Landau before this interview). The area where we can go is huge. We work on social causes such as “1Goal”. There are various things that MOFILM has helped with for mobiles development for the last few years. We will continue to do that and continue to have fun with it and continue to make film makers special. We do it because we enjoy it!.. it’s not about making money!

FP: Do you have any idea as to who might be coming next year?

AB: MOFILM might not even come here next year, it is changing; Nokia is not here, LG and Apple are not here, some of the biggest brands are not here. So if they’re not here, there are places where can go to in order to get to our audience, probably Sundance. We are looking into it and will prepare our calendar for 2011.

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