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.

3rd Vertical Film Festival

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 : http://collectifslittoral.fr/index.php/fr/petition-contre-les-boues-rouges
If you like it, please follow and share: https://www.facebook.com/impact134k

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


Film program now online by Adam Sébire

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 blog about these if and when they open their calls for entries (our blogs are also be posted on Facebook), so keep an eye on one or the other.  Consider uploading your work to mobile-only vertical platforms such as Vervid and imDown. 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 9:16 Tips & Tricks page.)

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:


For the general public we've limited it to two seats per person, but if you're planning on bringing friends and two isn't enough, you can email us as we have a limited additional supply.

And 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 http://verticalvideo.miptv.com/  — 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... :-)

21 May 2016 — save the date by Adam Sébire

Carrington Brewery.

Vertical Film Festival fans can circle two dates in their 2016 diaries now!

  • Saturday 30 April — this is the deadline for entries to the Festival (both in and out of competition).  Entries are now open, and are free.
  • Saturday 21 May — Festival screening night in the Carrington Brewery, Katoomba, Australia, 8pm.

We're excited to be one of the first events in the Carrington Hotel's atmospheric micro-brewery space, an old power station which was recently renovated to produce boutique beers.

Visitors to the Blue Mountains will probably already know of The Carrington, a grand old hotel perched on the mountain-top, dating back to 1883.  The Katoomba Brewing Company now adjoins it and has beautiful brickwork (around the corner in the picture) on which we'll be mounting our 4 metre-high vertical screen for your viewing pleasure!

As well as enjoying an evening of great tall-screen films, if you're a beer connoisseur you're in luck: the bar will be serving the real thing amidst the hops from 7:30pm, half an hour before the Festival kicks off, as well as at interval and after the announcement of our winners.

2016 — the 2nd Vertical Film Festival by Adam Sébire

We're happy to announce that the 2nd Vertical Film Festival (VFF) will be held in May 2016.

Details are to-be-confirmed, but most likely it will be one Saturday evening in May, and once again in Katoomba in Australia's Blue Mountains. We plan to screen once again in a beautiful vertical venue and to keep the same Festival sections as we introduced last time:

  • ⇧ THIS WAY UP ⇧, the first worldwide vertical video competition for shorts under 3 minutes.
  • TALL SHORTS, an out-of-competition section featuring a curated collection of extraordinary vertical cinema (generally under 10 mins) from around the globe.

To get the word out, Adam Sébire (who's up in the Arctic enjoying the aurora) has created a vertical teaser for the Festival.  Please share it far & wide! https://vimeo.com/150033726


The website will be updated with entry details in early January, but we wanted to let filmmakers know as early as possible, to give them impetus to shoot their next film vertically. If you're new to the concept, have a look under the "For Filmmakers" menu above for tips & techniques. One day it'd be great to set up a kind of vertical filmmaking virtual community & hub ... one day! Meanwhile feel free to add comments below.  

It's been a while between posts, and a lot has happened in vertical filmmaking since our inaugural festival; there are signs that tall-screen filmmaking is on the cusp of something big, including three vertical features (that we know of) either underway or completed and an app called Vervid which is positioning itself as the YouTube of vertical video. A good summary of other goings on (though almost a year old now) is Vertical Film 2014.  And last, but not least, take a look at this beautiful vertical film below, just completed by Jean-Charles Granjon.

That's it for now.  We look forward to lots of amazing adventures in vertical video with you over coming months.  Be sure to check back here occasionally for more details of the Festival in 2016 (and to save your fingers you can also reach the Festival site simply by going to http://vertical.video )

¡Hasta la vista, verticalistas!




Festival Wrap Up by Adam Sébire

Both the 1st Vertical Film Festival and the 2014 Australian Climbing Festival have now wrapped after a crazy but exciting long weekend.  Our thanks again to the ACF for underwriting the VFF in its first edition.

Before a capacity crowd we screened twenty-one films totalling around 90 minutes, from filmmakers in Australia, Cyprus, Germany, Switzerland, UK and USA, about half of whom were in the audience. (We'll be sending all participants stills of their films taken during projection, soon).

They ranged from Matthew Gray's excellent vertical documentary treatise on the significance of doors to the incredible animation skills on display in The Numberlys and Everything I Can See From Here — as well as a number of climbing and adventure-related works.  Putting on their judges' wigs were Cedar Wright, climber-filmmaker (and 2014 ACF special guest), and Chris Caines, multimedia artist and Katoomba local; both have won a string of awards in their own right.

Around half the films shown were in the competition which we titled ⇧THIS WAY UP⇧ and the winning entries as chosen by the judges are detailed below.  We hope to begin uploading competition entries as Vimeo videos by the end of October.

For its sheer beauty, technique and storytelling, First Prize,

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit • Goal Zero Luna Light • $200 Patagonia Store Voucher 

went to:

On a lonely beach Fish flops desperately, trapped by a yoke of plastic rings. Girl sees him and lovingly releases him. Both are transformed. As time passes they're propelled on a desperate search for their unlikely love. Magic awaits them.

(Commissioned by 9:16FF, Adelaide) • Created by Ana María Méndez Salgado & Carlos Manrique Clavijo (Karu Karu Studio, Adelaide) • Duration: 2’54 

Second Prize,

Goal Zero RockOut 2 Speaker • $100 Patagonia Store Voucher

went to Simon Baré's haunting experimental portrait study:


An experimental video work exploring portraiture in a liminal and uncertain space.

Director: Simon Baré • Subjects: Pete Conroy, Ron Kelly, Jenny Leonard, Amanda Stephens Lee, Sylvia Griffin, Nikki Walkerden • Duration: 2’31" • Shot on Canon 60D DSLR.

The prize for Best Vertical Climbing Video,

Goal Zero RockOut 1 Speaker • Goal Zero Lighthouse Lantern • $200 Patagonia Store Voucher 

went to a short shot in the glaciers and mountains of Europe & China:

Following a shadow of expectancy, making a mountain out of a mountain, shifting balance is found in suspension.

Director & Performance: Nikki Walkerden • Sound: Shaun Hay • Duration 2’31 

As mentioned in the printed program, the 1st Vertical Film Festival offset its carbon emissions for lighting, sound, projection and heating during the Festival.  From meter readings before and after the event, this equated to 0.15 tonnes of C0₂, which has now been offset using GoldPower renewable energy credits.

Thanks once again to everyone who entered a film, to our judges, to our audience, to Rev. Ray Robinson & Michelle Seers at St Hilda's, to Andrew Gelao at KFM Media, to David Neal, and to everyone who offered advice, help and encouragement.  We couldn't have done it without you!

Winners & grinners by Adam Sébire

What an amazing night! The Festival was packed to the rafters to feast upon 90 minutes of Vertical films & videos. We're totally exhausted after packing up the screen and everything, but before bed, the winners are:

1st Prize: GIRL & FISH created by Ana María Méndez Salgado & Carlos Manrique Clavijo

2nd Prize: TIMMH: Study (Phase 2) by Simon Baré

Best Climbing Film: CLIMACTIC ACTUALITY by Nikki Walkerden

Congratulations, winners, and a huge thank you to everyone who entered. More to come soon...

Program and complete list of films by Adam Sébire

It's all go in Katoomba with the Australian Climbing Festival kicking off today, and our Festival tonight.  Our incorruptible adjudication team for ⇧THIS WAY UP⇧ (the world's first competition for short vertical video) will comprise US climber-filmmaker Cedar Wright as well as media artist, UTS lecturer and Katoomba resident Chris Caines.  Here's the program.  Click to view both pages (3.3MB).


The rear-projection screen is up by Natasha Sebire

We had a bit of a test run tonight and it's looking and sounding great.  If you're coming tonight (Friday 17th Oct), the hot tip is to BYO beanbag or cushions, then you can snaffle the floorspace we'll clear up front to have The Ultimate Vertical Cinema Experience.  Get there early — doors will probably open around 8.45pm and once we're full we're full.  Be there ... or be horizontal!

And finally, the trailer! by Adam Sébire

Well, it's snowing up in the Blue Mountains tonight — it'll be fine for the weekend but better bring your woollies if you're coming up on Friday: 6-14ºC is predicted!

Hot on the heels of the teaser here's the official trailer, with extracts from all the films in both sections, ⇧THIS WAY UP⇧ and TALL SHORTS:


The program is more or less locked off; about 30% of the duration is climbing/outdoors, another 30% is experimental art works, and the remaining 40% are animation & documentary.  Our plan is to mix them all up!  Pure diabolical programming genius...

And while we're at it, a big thanks to Mike Retter and the 9:16 Film Festival in Adelaide for allowing us to re-screen Matthew Gray's Door: Over The Threshold and Karu-Karu studios' Girl & Fish (below) at the 1st Vertical Film Festival this year. We're delighted to be able to give these two terrific made-for-tallscreen films another outing in their original aspect! 

The 1st Vertical Film Festival program takes shape by Adam Sébire

Entries for our ⇧THIS WAY UP⇧ competition have closed and our selection panel has notified the 10 talented finalists — we're almost there!  Thanks to everybody who entered, and to all the filmmakers who've allowed us to program their existing longer-form vertical works in the out-of-competition TALL SHORTS section.

A big thanks to Patagonia for coming on board as our co-sponsor, offering $500 worth of prize vouchers for 1st & 2nd prize, and Best Climbing Film.

Come along on the evening of 17 October to catch the out-of-competition screenings of some marvellous vertical animation films: The Numberlys from Oscar-winning filmmakers William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (trailer for the crossover film/app, below); and another we'll tell you about in a future blog post. We're very excited to be able to bring you these works, plus a whole swag of live action films to boot!




One month to go... by Adam Sébire

Thank you to everybody who's put in an entry for ⇧This Way Up⇧ so far.  We're very excited to see what people have been doing with the 9:16 format!

A lot's been going on.  Adam is busy curating the Tall Shorts part of the programme for films out of competition (and up to 10 mins long).  Technical details are being ironed out — with big thanks to Andrew at KFM Media in Katoomba who's been up late testing HD projectors for us to ensure they don't blow up when mounted vertically!  (Believe it or not, some manufacturers recommend against running them on their side, presumably due to airflow issues?!)

Our friends at the Australian Climbing Festival have been reconnoitering St Hilda's for ways to mount a large screen with climbing ropes hung from the nave's supporting beams.  Also at St Hilda's we've decided to employ a donations system for entry to the screenings to cover equipment hire.  This means we're waiving the cost of entries in ⇧This Way Up⇧ (absolute deadline remains 28 September 2014, however).

So, tell your friends, and get cracking!

Last, but certainly not least, we have the first of our prize sponsors on board — welcome (and a big thanks!) to Goal Zero.

Still from Vertical experiments 001: Rondell (2014) by Kuesti Fraun and Frank Lin.

St Hilda and the Tiger Snake by Adam Sébire

With two months to go, we're happy to report that we've confirmed our venue of choice, the beautiful St Hilda's Anglican Church in Katoomba (pictured, right). With a lovely tall nave, stained glass windows, glass doors to bring people in from the main street of Katoomba, and the friendly Reverend Ray Robinson it'll be a great venue for the first ever Vertical Film Festival screenings on the evening of 17 October. St Hilda is regarded by some as patron saint of culture, so that bodes well too!

In the meantime I, along with VFF coordinator Natasha Sebire (below), have been out shooting a vertical teaser for the festival in Tiger Snake Canyon in the deepest, darkest parts of Australia's Blue Mountains.

It proved to be a steep learning experience, pardon the pun. Even us verticalistas forgot to rotate the camera 90º on a few occasions, so ingrained in us is the horizontal mode of filming. Also, how exactly does one capture L/R stereo audio when the microphone is vertical?!


A lot of the time we decided to use the camera handheld. Lenses with image stabilisation were ideal for this purpose, and most likely we'll add some shot stabilisation during editing as well.

Abseiling into the canyon meant we needed to travel as light as we could. However we splurged a couple of kilos of our equipment allowance to take a Steadicam Merlin 2 for tracking shots on a Canon C100 along the canyon's most extensive section, where the walls are worn smooth by millions of years of water. (Note Natasha's el-cheapo L-bracket solution atop the steadicam, pictured below — $4 at the local hardware store, with the addition of two 1/4" threaded holes and one 1/4" bolt.)

We look forward to showing the finished film soon.

The simplest way yet to mount a camera vertically by Adam Sébire

Thank you to everybody who’s mentioned they’re going to enter ⇧ This Way Up ⇧, our 3-minutes-and-under competition section, to us so far.  We're very excited to see what you come up with!

If you haven't already, now's a great time to start thinking about suitable subject matter, and checking how your equipment might allow you to do it.

On that subject, Adrian Reinhardt, currently shooting in Madagascar, just gave us a dead-easy tip we’d not thought of for vertical camera mounting: just to rotate the baseplate — the part of your tripod that screws into the bottom of your camera — 90º (and remember which way you rotated it, to keep all your shots consistent).  Then, with the camera mounted on the tripod, just tilt the head forward and, voila!

Of course the centre of gravity has now changed and the tripod may fall over if you’re not careful. Always make sure the legs are positioned to give maximum stability, and consider adding a counter-balance to correct the centre of gravity.

We’ve added this idea to the tips & tricks page.  Good one Adrian, and thanks for sharing!

Some other examples of Vertical Cinema by Adam Sébire

To the best of our knowledge our own VFF is the the world's first competition for vertical films and videos, but are we the only such festival? Not quite! Here are a couple of other temples to the tall image.

Vertical Cinema, 12 October 2013 at Kontraste Festival Krems.  https://flic.kr/p/h7GdPP

Vertical Cinema

Vertical Cinema commissioned a series of 10 works for the vertical screen from Austrian, Dutch and Japanese audiovisual artists.  The works are made on 35mm film and projected in apposite architectural surrounds in vertical Cinemascope (their main problem was finding a projector that could function at 90º to the angle for which it was designed!)  In the above picture the resemblance of the screen "monolith" to a church stained-glass window is quite extraordinary.

Vertical Cinema at IFFR (Rotterdam) 2014. Photo by Pieter Kers. https://flic.kr/p/k3Q1bL

I was lucky enough to catch the program in Amsterdam at the beginning of 2014.  Only one of the films, Pyramid Flare is what might be called 'live action'; the rest comprised abstract, chemical and structuralist explorations of the medium. Arguably though, most (except the live action film) could also have been shown horizontally; they were a series of abstract canvasses that happened to be tall.  Think Gerhard Richter's Cologne Cathedral Stained Glass Windows.  That's not to say it wasn’t a pretty extraordinary experience though.

You can see some short excerpts of these films (pillar-boxed, ie. with strange black bars down the side) here, and a Flickr gallery here; however the affect of the larger-than-life vertical screen is impossible to replicate on the web, of course.


9:16 Film Festival

This Adelaide-based festival commissioned seven works for vertical screening earlier this year. 9:16 is "the aspect ratio of our time" says the website.  A bold claim indeed.  But why not?




Their films are available on YouTube (but again, in pillar-boxed 16:9. See our 9:16 Tips & Tricks page ("Working Vertically Online" section) for a discussion of presenting vertical work without it being molested by black bars on the sides).