Empowering Stories One Smartphone At A Time

Susan Botello
Jan 3 · 5 min read

We live in interesting times which are a cumulation of events that have happened since the new millennium. At the center of everything we experience is a story. Stories are always evolving. The only beginning and end to a story is the one that is told or the one we perceive.

If we leave a room to go outside there is a view in front of us and a bit in our peripheral vision. But we understand there is much more than what our eyes can see. Such is the matter with stories all around the world. As human beings, we are the ones who share the stories, our stories, the stories of others and the stories of our experience…our existence.

This year, in the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego, we have an opportunity to share a story unique to a niche industry which you are already a part of, even if you do not realize it. Your eyes may not see it, but the story is there. It’s true that more people around the globe have access to a smartphone than a tooth brush. With that one tool, there is an opportunity to empower your story, and your message.

Mobile filmmaker and storyteller Brian Hennings is interviewed during IMFF 2017. Photo: Aaron Nabus

What is the power of a story? Can your story inspire people? Storytellers have been around since the beginning of our humanity. They were around before humans could speak. Through drawings on the walls of caves and symbolism we shared stories with each other. The most powerful stories told around the world are movies. Films evoke emotions, messages, they can educate us, entertain us, and move us to take action. Films can reform our way of thinking in ways that can be subliminal. We can build dreams around them and motivate progress because of them.

The discussion is real. It is happening all around us as society moves from simply consuming and experiencing to creating and provoking change. Stories are more powerful than money. While you can bribe people with money, a story can build passion. Money puts a limit on an action where passion is unbeatable. There are many powerful individuals and organizations that already know this and have used that knowledge through time to create and change the world and how we live.

Your smartphone has given everyone the tool to create, and share stories around the world. The fact is that although many people realize this not enough people are doing it. The flip side is that many are doing it and they are not getting the results they intended.

Are you creating videos for popularity? Are you creating them for fun? Are you creating videos because you enjoy creating them? Are you sharing stories with your videos? Are you making films to share stories? Are you trying to send a message with your videos? Are you using your videos to market your vision, your products, or your ideas?

What is it about making videos and films with smartphones that attracts you? Why should it?

On set of Consensus Reality feature film by Steve Palmer Peterson screened during IMFF 2019. Photo: Steven Palmer Peterson

Looking back to the history of storytelling to answer these questions is a matter of searching phrases on the internet. People have been making videos and films for as long as cameras have existed. They have used them to create media in ways that the average person could not for two main reasons. One, the average person cannot afford to invest in a camera. Two, the average person does not have the time or passion to learn how to use a camera.

Smartphones are consumer friendly…as a matter of fact, even a toddler can use it. Children enjoy watching videos and looking at photos. They enjoy interacting with apps and games. An adult, or a child, can create videos if they want to. Wanting is the only real requirement. Creating stories and sharing them takes a bit more. And while we all have stories we can imagine, stories we have experienced or have an interest in…can we really turn those stories into films? How? Why?

What our eyes can see is a metaphor for our perception. What we experience is limited by what we perceive it to be. Films can bring someone from one part of the world to experience the story of someone in another part of the world. Your neighbor and your best friend may not understand, or know, what you are experiencing through your own perception. However, a film can enlighten them. When you enlighten someone it is as if you are educating someone. Education can be entertaining. It can inspire.

As we look back to how mobile filmmaking became a trend and created a niche around the world, we find that in many ways it’s about our need to get our stories out. We find the answers to why we should join the people who are doing it and how to improve how we make our stories into films. But most importantly, we look into how we can use the smartphone camera to create our own change in the world and make it better. This has been part of discussions during all of our film festivals.

By connecting our stories we build the biggest story of all, the one story that humanity created together. And perhaps, we can empower each other through the stories in the same way a few people who could afford to invest money and time into creating films could, in a new world created by all of us instead of a few of us. Because that is the power of a story.

The International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego would like to bring the conversation to the table…where is mobile filmmaking taking us? Where would we like to take it? Why should we be part of it? How can you be a mobile filmmaker and a better storyteller no matter what industry you are in? How can mobile filmmaking and storytelling educate all of us?

International Mobile Film Festival theme April 2020 in San Diego, California.

The theme for this year’s festival is Hindsight 2020. We created the hashtag: HindsightMobileFilm to continue the story of mobile film as it continues to grow around the world. The festival takes place in San Diego, California during the last weekend in April 2020. You can find out more on the website.

If you want to be a part of the story, add the dates to your calendar now. Don’t put it off another day. This is one event you want to attend and be inspired.


Storytelling through film and video with your smartphone.

Susan Botello

Written by

Official International Mobile Film Festival founder. CEO S. Botello Productions. @susybotello Smartphones. Storytelling. www.internationalmobilefilmfestival.com


Storytelling through film and video with your smartphone.

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