Onwards, Upwards: a global vertical video crowdsourced during Covid-19 by Adam Sébire

UPDATE: The video is complete! Thank you everybody who sent in their shots. See the result here:



Today we at the Vertical Film Festival joined forces with our colleagues to launch a global callout for vertical filmmakers (or indeed anyone with a good eye and a camera) to submit a short vertically-framed shot expressing their thoughts, experiences and hopes during the Covid-19 crisis.

These shots need to be created on Friday 1st of May 2020 — which promises to be quite different to any other May Day — living in the shadow of coronavirus and social distancing.

Selected shots received by 3 May will be edited together for a crowdsourced vertical video to be released online later that month under a non-commercial Creative Commons license.

Please let other filmmakers know; it’s a collaborative rather than a competitive exercise. (Though we hope to announce plans for the 4th Vertical Film Festival competition in the next few months!) You can share the webpage:


or our Facebook post:

or the project’s Facebook page:

The call-out vertical video features VFF co-founder Adam Sébire in Utsira lighthouse where he has been marooned alone for 6 weeks now due to border closures. Not only the epitome of social isolation, the lighthouse is also the perfect vertical subject, it turns out!


Onwards, Upwards vertical video website shortcut: https://www.vertical.video or see the link in our menu bar, top right of this page.

Vertical Feature Films by Adam Sébire

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov’s V2: Escape From Hell started shooting Feb 2020.

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov’s V2: Escape From Hell started shooting Feb 2020.

Reports that the first vertical “blockbuster movie” began shooting this week under Russian director Timur Bekmambetov leave many questions to be answered. Not least of which is whether the vertical format can sustain feature lengths (durations over an hour) while cinemas remain resolutely horizontal.

The poster's confusing all-caps claim to be "the first vertical film" also made us wonder what other vertical features have been released to date. We know of Mike Retter’s “” (82 mins**) which reached the Adelaide Film Festival in 2017 — and at least three others that alas never made it beyond production.

Do you know of any others? Let us know in the comments.

Other Opportunities by Adam Sébire

Did you know: the world’s first cat film (Falling Cat, 1894) … just happens to be vertical? :-)

However when we started the Vertical Film Festival (VFF) in Australia five years ago there were only two other places to show such works in their native tall-screen format. One was Sonic Acts’ Vertical Cinema, which premièred with commissioned films in Krems, Austria in late 2013 and the other was the in Adelaide in 2014 (sadly no longer running). The VFF started the first worldwide competition for vertical videos that same year, but since then opportunities for pioneering vertical filmmakers to show their works to live audiences on natively tall-screens have continued to grow (albeit slowly).

Two that have open callouts for the next month are:

Slim Cinema (based in New York City) with a callout till 23 March 2019


Nespresso Talents which is open for entries till 25 March 2019 but is more restrictive, accepting only entries 3 minutes or less on the theme of "We Are What We Eat". (It’s important to be aware that they essentially take control of your film for as little as €1,000 if you win; the ‘prize’ is in fact a purchase contract from an Italian company called UserFarm, which may or may not suit you.)

We regularly receive emails from companies looking for vertical video “content” for everything from apps to bus shelters and always ask that they contact the filmmakers directly, since you own the rights to your creations. But it suggests to us that there have always been opportunities for vertical works beyond just festivals and Vimeo/YouTube … since 1894!

The VFF runs in even-numbered years; so all being well we’ll be back with more in the second half of 2020.

Festival Support by Natasha Sebire

The Vertical Film Festival’s co-director, Natasha Sebire, receives a rather big cheque from Peter Carroll of the Katoomba & Upper Blue Mountains Community Bendigo Bank. This very welcome contribution helps offset this year’s prize money and some of the running costs. Peter’s very happy to be supporting local art projects and community events. (They were also the first community bank branch in Australia to go solar!) The VFF is grateful for support from both Bendigo Bank and also from in 2018.


2018 Festival a success by Natasha Sebire

Wenceslao Lopez Meza's Amapola took out 1st prize and Best Cinematography in the competition section for 2018.

We had a lovely warm summer’s evening on 8 December 2018, for the screening of the 3rd Vertical Film Festival in the Blue Mountains of Australia. A 4 metre tall screen took up most of one wall of the Carrington Brewery in Katoomba. For the second time we’ve used the Carrington Brewery, as the old building with its tall brick walls, iron and old timber beams provides a great atmosphere for the VFF screening - and the smell of the beer brewing in the surrounding vats just adds to the effect!

Amapola Cartel 1.jpg

The warmer weather was a good test for the projector, but thanks to a special mount designed by KFM Media to hold the projector on its side, it didn’t overheat. The summer weather was also perfect for sampling the Carrington Brewery’s craft beers on tap.

The audience was treated to 23 vertical films and videos, some created with smartphones, others shot on high-end cameras such as Arri and Red. The panel of judges awarded both 1st Place and also Best Cinematography in ⇧THIS WAY UP⇧ competition to:

Amapola — by Wenceslao Lopez Meza from Mexico. A big congratulations to Wenceslao for taking out both categories as the competition was tough with a fantastic line up of films! Thanks to Bendigo Bank and for sponsoring the cash prizes.

It was great to see Ben Kumanovski, Director of , and Sidat de Silva, the film’s Cinematographer, attend the festival. ‘Rectangle’ had its world premier at this year’s festival and was a very close runner up, with its entertaining story about the vertical format, excellent production design and cinematography.



We’d like to thank Bendigo Bank and Scenic World Shared for supporting this years festival. It’s great to have local community support to help make this event happen. We’d also like to thank all of our in- and out-of-competition filmmakers for allowing us to screen their works. The high quality selection showcased this year shows vertical film and video is well and truly in its golden age. We look forward to more in the future.

¡Viva la Vertical!

Natasha Sebire & Adam Sebire
(founding directors of the VFF)

Tonight! by Adam Sébire

We’re looking forward to seeing those of you in the Sydney/Blue Mountains area at the Festival in Katoomba this evening, Saturday 8 December 2018. Details and program are on our Screenings page.
If you live further afield, there’s a little treat: With the rise of vertical video a few vertical documentaries about the form itself have begun appearing. Our favourite so far would have to be Argentinian Javier Pazzano’s thesis film, which he’s just finished. It’s 20 minutes long, features shots from a number of films that had their first première at our 2014 and 2016 Festivals, and you can view it below:

Documentary about the use of vertical video format. Completed as the thesis of the Audiovision´s Degree of the National University of Lanús. September 2018.

3rd Vertical Film Festival trailer by Natasha Sebire

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Trailer for the 3rd Vertical Film Festival, Saturday 8 December 2018 in the Carrington Brewery, Katoomba, in Australia's Blue Mountains. Includes a few seconds from films in both the ⇧THIS WAY UP⇧ competition (for 9:16 videos under 3 mins), and TALL SHORTS, our out-of-competition section.

Entry is by donation, doors open at 8pm for an 8.30pm start. Reserve your free tickets here

Thanks to the filmmakers for content in this trailer.

Music: SaReGaMa saregama-music.blogspot.com.au

Countdown to the festival by Natasha Sebire

The screening of the 3rd VFF in the Blue Mountains is fast approaching. The final selection of films has been made, and the program will be up shortly. We will be screening 23 short films for the in-competition and curated sections of the festival. The filmmakers are from culturally diverse places around the world, but their common link is their passion for vertical film and video. From Scandinavia to Australia and everywhere in between, the films span a wide range of genres.

To reserve your seats at the one and only screening of the 3rd VFF to be held in Katoomba in Australia’s Blue Mountains, visit http://verticalfilmfestival.eventbrite.com.au/

Entry is free but donations are welcome to help cover costs for this event. For those that want the full vertical experience, bring your own beanbag - we have reserved a special space right under the big screen!

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Judges announced by Natasha Sebire

This year we have Erika Addis, James Cunningham and Kim Batterham judging this years 2018 VFF. All have many years experience in the industry. Read more about them here.

This year there will be a special category for ‘Best Cinematography’. How effective has the cinematographer been with their use of light, shape, tone, colour, movement, rhythm and space to tell the story?


Great local support for the Festival by Natasha Sebire

We are pleased to announce Bendigo Bank are helping sponsor this year’s Vertical Film Festival. It is great to have community support for this, the 3rd VFF.

A huge thanks to Bendigo Bank, which values events like this as an opportunity to reinvest in local communities. The Blue Mountains is a strong community and the Vertical Film Festival is proud to have its home here (and in one of the most ‘vertical’ places in Australia!).

Entries have now closed by Natasha Sebire

Thanks to everybody who submitted an entry to the 2018 Festival. We’ve had a record number of entries from places as far and wide as Venezuela and Nepal. Vertical filmmaking has really taken off since our first festival in 2014! Stay posted for news of the final selection.

In the meantime, you can now reserve a free ticket to the screening here. Seating is limited so be sure to register. See this page for screening details.

Vertical format is the only way to go sometimes! Photo: ©Natasha Sebire

Vertical format is the only way to go sometimes!

Photo: ©Natasha Sebire


Welcome aboard Scenic World by Natasha Sebire

Great news! Scenic World is providing some sponsorship for the 3rd Vertical Film Festival. So a big thanks to them as getting support for events like this is always difficult.

Scenic Skyway.jpg

This view is literally just down the street from the festival venue! The Scenic Skyway is the largest aerial cablecar in the Southern Hemisphere, offering a 720m journey across the valley with incredible views of the Blue Mountains.

Master-Wordmark copy

We're Mushrooming.... by Adam Sébire

A one-minute vertical video callout from the Vertical Film Festival team shot with GoPro & drone on a recent Sunday morning in the Finnish archipelago. Music from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg.

Remember, the VFF is **now open** for vertical filmmakers to show off their creative explorations of the tall-screen format. Entry is free and closes 18 Nov 2018. Details on our guidelines page: https://verticalfilmfestival.org/guidelines/

3rd Vertical Film Festival announced! by Natasha Sebire

It’s on again!  The 3rd Vertical Film Festival will be held in Katoomba, in Australia’s Blue Mountains, on Saturday 8 December 2018.


The formula is the same as when we launched the world’s first competition for vertical film & video in October 2014: entries in high definition of up to 3 minutes, created and delivered vertically (9:16) for tall-screen projection in front of an audience, on any theme, in any genre, pushing the creative possibilities of vertical filmmaking. Finalists films will be available online.  

In 2014 it was just beginning; now vertical videos are on the cusp of going mainstream. But a lot of it is just widescreen “content” cropped vertically :-(

We want to see how you explore the inherent possibilities of tall-screen.  If you're an independent filmmaker or artist and the vertical format is essential to your creative vision then this competition is for you!

Conditions of entry and an online entry form are now on the website: Submit Your Film

(No entry fee; prizes to be confirmed; videos to be submitted via Vimeo.)  

Entries close Sunday 18 November, 2018.

2016 Festival Wrap-up by Adam Sébire

Jean-Charles Granjon's Impact took out 1st prize in the competition section of 2nd Vertical Film Festival, Katoomba, Australia, 21 May 2016.

As darkness fell and fog rolled in across the Blue Mountains, the Vertical Film Festival once again raised its tall-screen — this time up the old walls of the Carrington Brewery to show 28 vertical films from 14 different countries, over a third of them directed by women, and created on formats ranging from smartphone to AfterEffects to 35mm Kodak film.

Projectors are notoriously fickle about being tilted 90º due to overheating but perhaps due to the cool mountain air ours managed to project 2hrs of stunning images on a 4m high screen. Beautifully designed soundtracks reverberated around the brewery’s hops (where beers could be sampled at interval).

In 2016 our ⇧THIS WAY UP⇧ competition was decided by a popular vote of our enthusiastic audience. We tallied everyone's votes while the out-of-competition TALL SHORTS were screening.  

The results gave 1st prize, with a lead of 63 points over its nearest rival to... (drum-roll please...)

Impact — by Jean-Charles Granjon from the south of France.  He wins a Nespresso by KitchenAid machine (rrp: $799). Heartiest congratulations and magnificent work, Jean-Charles!

The 2nd and 3rd prize were only separated by a single 1st preference vote.  

Basket Case

Basket Case

2nd prize went to Basket Case — made by James Bedford of Hampshire in the UK, who wins a Nespresso Pixie Clips machine (rrp: $349).

And 3rd prize, a Nespresso Inissia machine (rrp: $249) goes to Yoshiyuki Katayama of Kanagawa in Japan for Umwelt. (For film details see the 2016 Program page).

Congratulations to all three filmmakers and their teams!  All the prizes will be coming with a set of accessories (see photo below).  We’re extremely grateful for Nespresso for being our prize sponsor this year, and to the three filmmakers (Erik Schmitt, Eva Weber and Gaëlle Denis) who Nespresso commissioned to promote their Talents 2016 Prize for allowing us to show their films at our Festival as well.

And last but certainly not least, thanks to all of our in- and out-of-competition filmmakers for allowing us to showcase such marvellous works of creativity and for the love and effort they and their collaborators have so evidently put into them.

¡Viva la Vertical!

Adam & Natasha Sebire
(founding directors of the VFF)

Jean-Charles Granjon writes about his film: "Impact tells the story of the mental journey of a high diver in the seconds before his jump. Impact is a world first in several respects: The vertical format – 4K – 1000fps slow-motion – the environment (underwater and cliffs). Impact is a team imaging adventure, directed by Jean-Charles Granjon and shot in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeast France. This is thus a condensed reflection of the cinematic expertise of Marseille, southeast France.

Lionel Franc, world champion cliff diver is the head-first "hero" of Impact. Impact is also a reflection about the way we use our natural environment. The wonderfull natural sites where we shot this short film are just 7km away from a site which faces massive pollution by the aluminium industry of The City of Gardane, south of France. This has been happening for 50 years. More than 20 millions tons of toxic waste is now lying under the surface of The Mediterranean Sea. Despite a National Park being created on this site, the aluminium industry still have permission to pollute! If you feel concerned about the protection of your natural settings, please sign this petition :
If you like it, please follow and share:

Line producer: Bluearth Production
Vertical film Post Production : La Planète Rouge
Equipment: Phantom Flex


Film program now online by Adam Sébire

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Our program of films for screening in 2016 is now online (though the exact order is still to be confirmed). We received dozens of films — from every continent except Antarctica — and the final decision proved very difficult for the selection panel. Selectors gave each film a rating 0-5 which was then tallied.  

Check out the complete list of films chosen here, & have a look at the 2016 Teaser, right.

For the filmmakers who missed out on a screening slot, there will undoubtedly be other opportunities. We already know of half a dozen vertical film screenings in planning around the world and we will  about these if and when they open their calls for entries (our blogs are also be posted on ), so keep an eye on one or the other.  Consider uploading your work to mobile-only vertical platforms such as Vervid and . Also, to make your film more visible on Vimeo, consider adding it to a vertical filmmaking “Group” (in Settings / Collections). There are several such vertical film communities on Vimeo, for example: 

(But make sure your video is the right-way up first; see Editing on our .)

Blue Mountains Gazette 11 May 2016

And a reminder: tickets are going quickly. Reservations are free so get in soon if you're planning to attend as the Blue Mountains' main newspaper has just given the Festival some timely publicity!

Reserve your VFF tickets now by Adam Sébire

Submissions have closed, and we've had entries from Almaty to Arkhangelsk, from Uganda to the United States. The quality of entries and the fact that we received three times as many as for our first edition bode very well for vertical filmmaking.

The selectors are working the way through many dozens of films and we hope to let all entrants know this coming weekend.

Meantime, we've opened seat reservations for the Festival. Because it's free to reserve (entry is by donation at the door) and because in a week's time we expect some media coverage in Australia, we recommend that our loyal VFF followers who are planning on coming to Katoomba get in soon to reserve their seats:


If you want the REAL vertical experience, you can also bring your own beanbag — there will be a special space for you under our big screen.

All the screening details are on this page.

Inside the Carrington Brewery. Seating (and the screen) are around the righthand corner.

T-31: APRIL 30 entry deadline approaches! by Adam Sébire

Only one month remains to enter the 2nd Vertical Film Festival, so get your skates on, verticalistas!

Remember, as per our previous post, you CAN enter your vertical film in both the Nespresso Talents competition (which closes 10 April) AND our Festival (which closes 30 April) without disqualifying yourself from either.  That's two opportunities to have your work seen by audiences, and a rare chance to have it projected in our lovely tall-screen venue here in Australia.

In that vein, here's a brilliant short film that Nespresso commissioned from auteur Gaëlle Denis to get people enthused by the form: Rhapsody in Blueberry.

Other opportunities for your vertical videos by Adam Sébire

In the interests of promoting opportunities for vertical filmmakers, we want to let you know about another tallscreen video competition (some might say our ‘rival’ — but so far as we’re concerned the more the merrier! :-)

Nespresso Talents 2016 is for 3min vertical shorts also (although our Vertical Film Festival accepts longer videos for screening out of competition). Nespresso's event happens before the VFF (their deadline is the 10th of April) so the good news is that you can enter their competition and ours without breaking any rules.

Nespresso deadline 10 April
Vertical FF deadline 30 April
Nespresso winners announced 12 May at Cannes screening
Vertical FF winners announced 21 May at Katoomba screening


Or, if your film’s already finished and ready to go, here’s one other (much smaller) competition to consider: MIP Digital Fronts   — but be quick as it closes today!


The Rise and Rise of Vertical Video by Natasha Sebire

There have been a flurry of articles about vertical video's ascendancy lately.  Vertical 2015 is an overview of the last year's vertical developments, and contains an interesting graph showing the ever-increasing hours spent using mobile screens:

(Note that the report seems to assume that smartphones & tablets are always used vertically)  Source: http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

And recently we at the Vertical Film Festival were contacted by a researcher at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. The resulting article (or see here for German version) provides insight into the growth of vertical video in the commercial world, quoting the astounding figure of over seven billion vertical videos viewed daily on Snapchat (below).

Above: An example of how National Geographic is centrecutting material shot 4K+ resolution (below) for vertical presentation on Snapchat. Photo: Brian J Skerry, National Geographic . 

Above: An example of how National Geographic is centrecutting material shot 4K+ resolution (below) for vertical presentation on Snapchat. Photo: Brian J Skerry, National Geographic

Although many of these are simply landscape-format videos cropped vertically (see left), a substantial number of them are created vertically from the outset, and the article describes the difficulties this involves, citing the Vertical Film Festival's very own "how to make a vertical video" guide as a repository of technical & practical solutions. Always happy to help... :-)