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,

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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,

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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).