Voting is now live for the final round of the Original iPhone Film Festival. Head over to originaliphonefilmfest.com to watch all twelve films and vote. Vote by clicking the Facebook Like button below your favorite film (regardless of category). The Grand Prize winner will be announced at the Macworld Expo on January 26. The winner receives a MacBook Air.

The iPhone-created submissions have been narrowed down by industry-level sponsors and judges to a top three in each of four categories — Music Video, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Branded (think spec commercials). Film festival rules limit filmmakers to shooting only with the iPhone (or iPod touch or iPad), and encourages editing with the iPhone as well (though any post-production software/techniques may be used).

True to the spirit of the festival, all films can be watched on any iOS device as well as in your browser. I watched them with my parents on their Apple TV via my iPad and AirPlay.

The iPhone and Filmmaking

While I often use my iPhone and iPad as part of the filmmaking process, I’ve never made a short film with it. But contests like these emphasize the way filmmaking technology has expanded in use, dropped in price, and in many cases brought focus back to story, character, and message.

While a great aesthetic and professional technique will always stand out, the barriers to getting your story to a world-wide audience are much different than they were even five years ago. While the iPhone is by no means the only contribution to an overall technologically and socially smaller planet, it is certainly a significant one.

The Films

In general I found the films to be fairly clever. Each filmmaker used different techniques to mask the “video-phone” look of even the best iPhone videos. Some of the films are aware of the iPhone that captures them; others are just fun little films.

I wonder how the films may look next year now that the 4S is solidly in the mix. I also wonder if projects like this and the growing market for filmmaking accessories for the iPhone will prompt Apple to deliver a video camera that shoots 24fps (in my opinion, one of the biggest betrayals to the films’ otherwise professional looks).

The Original iPhone Film Festival

But the festival creators have provided a unique way for iPhone-carrying filmmakers to showcase their raw talent and imagination, and many are taking advantage of it. It is clear that I likely would not have watched or even heard of these films were it not for the iPhone gimmick of the festival. It’s unclear how long this “film studio in your pocket” gimmick will be viable or how far it will take the filmmakers involved, but the contest — supported by industry professionals — drives home the point of taking every advantage at your disposal. A story told is a story told.

So far, the festival has done a commendable job and has plenty of room to grow into a perennial showcase of burgeoning talent. In addition to continuing the contest, the site plans to add a robust user forum for iPhone filmmakers, giving them a place to call home and share encouragement, experience, and techniques.

Your Feedback

What did you think of the films? Have you used your iPhone to make a short? How important is the quality of the camera used to your overall viewing experience? Let us know in the comments.

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