#MFF2021SanDiego RULES!

You need to know the rules before you submit your film. We only accept film submissions through

All film submissions are closed for IMFF 2020. Submissions for #MFF2021SanDiego are NOW OPEN 

NEW! Total length of feature films must be no less than 40 minutes and no more than 120 minutes (2 hours).


Note: All films selected will be streamed online as well as during the live film festival event. We do not accept direct email submissions. All films must be submitted through FilmFreeway only.


Three Little Tips to get your film selected and screened in the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego:

1. Read the rules to make sure you qualify 2. Think "story" for narrative films 3. Production value is important so make the effort to make a great film and pay attention to good audio.

Submissions opened June 19 for #MFF2021SanDiego


No limit on submissions! We lifted the limit of one film per filmmaker to no limit. *Paid submissions only. Note that only ONE film from each filmmaker or entity will be selected.

Due to persistent requests, we are now accepting more than one submission. We have experienced many requests to permit more than one film submission per filmmaker. More entries increases your odds and provides a better chance to one entry being selected. But remember that there is no guarantee your film, no matter how many you submit, will be selected or qualify. The selection process is not a random selection of entries, like picking names out of a jar. 

NEED IDEAS? Check out some categories.

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Why You Should Attend the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego


Read about IMFF on Film Daily News! Film Daily Logo

Raising the bar for smartphone filmmakers

MFF2017 added a new competition to our festival, which we announced in 2016: The Feature Film Competition continues moving forward. IMFF will select a total of 2 or 3 mobile "feature" length films each year. One winner will be awarded with a trophy for the Best Mobile Feature film award at the international mobile film festival in San Diego. All films must be shot with a mobile phone as the camera. Same rules as our traditional festivals apply (see below).

The main difference is filmmakers must be present at the film festival in San Diego during our live event screening.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, we are not requiring presence in San Diego during the live film festival April 2021. We will require a well produced video from the filmmaker about the making of the film if it is accepted. Details will be provided upon selection of the film.

NEW 2021: Total length of feature films must be no less than 40 minutes and no more than 120 minutes (2 hours).


ALL FILM SUBMISSIONS are now OPEN for IMFF 2021. Details and deadlines below. 


Listen to an in-depth discussion about IMFF 2021 in the SBP Podcast Mobile Filmmaking, with podcast host and festival founder Susy Botello with SBP Ambassador Aaron Nabus. Available in your favorite podcast apps.

SBP Podcast Mobile Filmmaking


2021 Festival Rules:

FEATURE FILM COMPETITION: We are looking for cinematic films with production quality with a story driven narrative. Movies must be exceptional.

Regarding documentaries with cinematic value, it may be worth trying but highly unlikely to be accepted. Contact us first! Generally, we are not accepting documentaries, only narrative story movies.

We advise you to focus on a good story and good acting.

SHORT AND FEATURE FILM COMPETITIONS: Vulgar, offensive, porn, nudity or extreme violence are not allowed. Respect other artists by not using media of any kind without proper licenses, permissions and clearance.

We are pioneers in the mobile phone film festival industry, which only accept films shot exclusively with smartphones. The time has come to challenge you to be a pioneer mobile feature filmmaker to compete during the International Mobil Film Festival™. All ages qualify!

Happy filming! The complete rules and details are below. You need to know them! 


Aim for Stars IMFF2021




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THE RULES - The following rules apply to submissions for IMFF 2021.


It is very important that you read the rules because once you submit your film there are no refunds. Also, there is a process after submission. You must read your emails. If we consider selecting your film, we will send you a link to a registration form you will need to sign online. We only send the link to filmmakers who are being considered for selection.

If you don't receive our emails, then you may miss deadlines and timely emails. These disqualify your film from the process. Film submissions are entries for competition. Please do all you can to stay in the competition. Do not get disqualified for ignoring communication from us because it makes us sad to have to disqualify anyone.

Most films selected will screen in San Diego at the live festival event. We must consider our audience and program schedule in our selection decisions. If your film does not get selected it does not mean your film is not good. We open the door to every film and consider every film with respect to the filmmaker and our audience.

Be aware that all selected films will also be available online, at least temporarily.

The only mobile device eligible is a smartphone aka mobile phone. No other mobile device is eligible...we decided when we launched in 2009 to give everyone an equal arena to compete using the same device. Any brand or make qualifies!

We respect storytellers who share their stories using smartphone cameras as films. Our mission is to open the door to everyone of any age, economic status, race or anything. Not everyone can afford the gear, the apps, the best phones...but your story is king. If you make a good film, captivate the viewer, share a good story, etc., you have a good chance of your film getting selected.

Vulgar, offensive, porn, nudity or extreme violence are not allowed. Respect other artists by not using media of any kind without proper licenses, permissions and clearance.

Stay tuned to emails from us once you submit your films. You must respond to emails and inquiries from us.


 RULES 2021

RULES FOR IMFF 2021 (open for submissions as of June 19, 2020)

We now accept MORE THAN ONE FILM (full paid submissions only) | ALL FILMS MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD IN HIGH QUALITY HD (see rules)

REQUIRED FOR ALL COMPETITIONS: English embedded captions/subtitles for all foreign, non-English spoken, or hard to understand or hard to hear dialogue and narration/voiceovers in all films is required.

PARTICIPANTS – You must be human beings. That is all we ask for. We don't limit artists/entrants/participants because of their age, income level, disabilities, race or ethnicity, sex or anything! If you are a human being you qualify as a filmmaker if you enter a qualifying film. We encourage anyone who believes they may not qualify even though they are human to give it a shot. Submitting is easy! We only accept submissions through FilmFreeway and we must download the films, once selected, from FilmFreeway.

EQUIPMENT – In case we weren’t clear: FILMS MUST BE SHOT BY MOBILE PHONE CAMERAS ONLY. All other production equipment, lights, cranes, dollies, etc. are allowed. Since mobile filmmaking has become an industry, you can find customized equipment online and stores if you need it. No apps or filmmaking accessories are required to qualify.

ONE (1) ENTRY per person and/or entity will be selected regardless of the number of entries submitted. One prize per film regardless of the number of people credited. If you are an organization, please contact us. We can promote your entity or an individual within your organization per your specific request.

LENGTHShort Film Competition - 00:60 seconds (1 minute) to 05:00 minutes including credits.

Feature Mobile Film Competition - 40 minutes to 120 minutes (2 hours) total including intro and end credits.

FORMAT – We prefer (.mp4) (.mov) files. FULL QUALITY HD video in widescreen format (Horizontal). No square or vertical formatted films. Questions? Contact us! 

APPS – Automatic editing apps which make editing decisions for you are not allowed. The only apps you may use are video editing software such as iMovie, Final Cut Pro, etc. on your phone or computer/laptop/notebook. Using apps may degrade the end quality of your footage or include undesirable app branding watermarks. We advise you to consider this when selecting apps, we won't accept watermarks on films submitted. Also consider not using filters during your production as opposed to post-production, as they also tend to degrade the quality of your video. Cropping video may also degrade the quality of your footage in post production, but that is not always the case.

COPYRIGHTS - We cannot accept any THIRD-PARTY music, images & photos or graphics in your video. We apologize, however, we are keeping your cost to produce your video down and increasing your creativity! If you can verify your right to use them through our strict legal licensing process, contact us. This also limits your risks. Licensing for music is tricky and can be confusing depending on how the music is used in your film. One license may not work for all the ways you use music in your film, such as background, transitions, etc. Music is not the only proprietary license you may need, such as visual items in your films. It is best to be informed before you begin production.

DRONES - In 2017, a decision was made to allow films submitted to our film festival to include not more than 10% Aerial footage/video captured with a drone camera. We announced it during the festival in 2018.

In order to qualify, the entire rest of your film must be shot with only mobile phone cameras. Not One Second More than 10% of the film may include aerial video or aerial footage recorded with a drone. This is the only exception to another camera or device allowed. You must do your own math! Example for a *Short film of five minutes: 10% of (5 minutes) = 30 seconds.

*Short film competition must be between 1 & 5 minutes and Not One Second Shorter or Longer including intro and end credits and/or video black at beginning or end.

Drones: You must enter the name, brand and the model of the drone and smartphone you used to film/capture your footage and certify the information with your signature in a separate registration form which all filmmakers must submit and sign *even if they did not use drones in their film. 

You MUST include the time code where drone footage begins and drone footage ends and you must also include several time codes if 10% of your drone footage is spread throughout your film in different areas. It's a bit of a pain so unless you really feel your film needs aerial footage, it's simpler without it.

*By submitting media to this contest, you acknowledge that you have read and understand the terms and conditions of this contest.

**Affiliates, employees, interns, contractors, & subsidiaries are ineligible to participate.

Music got you down? Don't fret. Here is some info to research using music in your films to ensure the proper licensing. This is not the only resource, but it's a good start., New 2018 Copyright Law and ASCAP

*If you have questions or need help contact us. We will allow a couple shots from another mobile device or traditional cameras only by individual basis after a conversation which determines you need it to tell your story and cannot recreate it on your phone in time for the festival. This is usually historical footage that cannot be recreated, and again, limited to one or two shots not lasting more 3 or 4 seconds.

Please respond to email requests in order to qualify even after films are selected.

We require your permission to download films from FilmFreeway and will not "stream" them from Vimeo or YouTube (or any online platform) during the live film festival due to issues which may arise in the quality of the video stream, internet connection, etc.

*Please make an effort to be in attendance to receive free engraved trophy with your name if you win in feature or short film competitions. Festival will not cover shipping of trophies. 

NOTICE: You will only be required to sign the separate registration form if your film is selected, in order to complete the selection process. You may also be required to submit licenses, proofs and other items such as talent release forms; upon request. 



Submissions for Short Mobile Film competition are currently OPEN | CLOSE November 19, 2020 

The Mobile Shorts competition must be between 1-5 minutes total length including intro and end credits. See RULES above for more details. Same rules apply.

We have created a scholarship program for the mobile short film competition ONLY in order to keep providing this opportunity to ALL human beings around the world regardless of income.

Vulgar, offensive, porn, nudity or extreme violence are not allowed. Respect other artists by not using media of any kind without proper licenses, permissions and clearance.


Contact us to apply for our scholarship program with your request. No automated or mass mail scholarship requests will be accepted or responded to. Only one film scholarship (if approved) submission/one entry, per filmmaker. Unlimited submissions are for fully paid submissions only. Feature film entries will not be considered for scholarships.



Submissions for the Feature Mobile Film competition are NOW OPEN | CLOSE October 19, 2020

We will select, not more than three (3) mobile films to compete for an exclusive mobile feature film award. Filmmaker must be present at the festival. The films will screen in San Diego. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, we are not requiring presence in San Diego during the live film festival April 2021. We will require a well produced video from the filmmaker about the making of the film if it is accepted. Details will be provided upon selection of the film.

Films must be cinematic in nature. Good quality and full 1080HD. Films must be shot with smartphones only, High Definition and look good on a big screen in widescreen format (Horizontal). No square or vertical formatted films. Any media not owned by the filmmaker must be fully licensed for distribution.

Feature films must be no shorter than 40 minutes and no longer than 120 minutes (2 hours.), including intro and end credits. *May need to mail us a USB drive with your film, per request, at your own cost.

Qualifying for submission does not guarantee selection to the competition. Not more than (3) films will be selected to compete in the Feature Film Competition. One film will be awarded Best Mobile Feature Film Award by International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego. IMFF is an official festival listed on IMDb.

Vulgar, offensive, porn, nudity or extreme violence are not allowed. Respect other artists by not using media of any kind without proper licenses, permissions and clearance.

The rules are otherwise the same as for the short film competition. Do not send experimental, music videos or documentaries as they will *most likely not qualify.  

We don't want you to submit a film, which does not qualify, because submission fees are non-refundable. Qualification does not ensure selection. No reason will be given as to why your qualifying film was not selected as is customary in most competitions. However, if we feel feedback may benefit you as a filmmaker, we will share some feedback. We watch every film. 

Best of luck! 


Trophies banner 2048X1152 2015 Edit smaller 


Suggested Categories for Short Film Competition Only

If you need some guidance, some ideas or some inspiration, you can use the following categories to enter your film. We encourage creativity for you to succeed with your project. We do not require you to enter particular categories in order to be a part of IMFF and compete. We believe some of the categories are ideal for mobile phone filmmaking. If your film does not fall in a category it's okay. Submit it.

All rules apply (See rules above): Remember vulgar, offensive, porn, nudity or extreme violence is not allowed. Don't forget that all films must be shot horizontally and we won't accept non widescreen formatted films and videos.

There are rules to adhere to. Don't forget to read the forms you fill out and submit as well. We sincerely wish you the best of luck!


This is where all films go if you have not picked a category. Please note that this includes children. We will not assign categories to our films for filmmakers. If you don't pick a category, your film will go into our general category. The judges will not judge your film based on the categories below. Your film will be judged among all films in the category that show creativity and other general film criteria such as the look of a Hollywood film for any genre.

This category is especially for you if you are also editing your film on your cell phone. Although we don't recommend any particular apps, you may use editing apps on your phone or computer, which do not make the edit decisions for you. This category is about doing it all only on the phone including audio. Make sure apps export in full resolution and in wide format for a large screen or theater.

Ages 0 through 17 years, this category gives youth a platform to use their storytelling techniques and abilities. Capturing video with smartphones (all rules apply) is an incredible boost for confidence for the youngest members of society and the film community in general. Youth can use smartphone filmmaking to realize their potential and stand out as innovative filmmakers. Their participation at our film festival brings them alongside other filmmakers during Q & A Panels sharing their voice as filmmakers with experienced professionals. Youth films selected and in attendance will receive the same treatment as other filmmakers where they will share their experience with the world on the red carpet in San Diego. 

Youth Film Category



With the collaboration of choreographer and soloist filmmaker Jamiel Laurence, we are introducing a unique category to our film festival. Screendance is for dancers using smartphones to choreograph performances for the camera. Using camera movement and style, this category hopes to inspire dancers who perform in front of the camera to team up with a camera person, or more than one, to shoot a story driven performance precisely for the screen.

"The universal language of dance has always held a special place when being performed in the realm of cinematic capture. Fred Astaire once said "Either the Camera will Dance, or I will" and this really captures the essence of the synergy between dance, choreography and filmmaking. With the rise in popularity and easy access to mobile filmmaking technologies, choreographers are naturally finding new and exciting ways to evolve dance alongside developing mobile form factor stabilisation and affordable lenses & filters. The International Mobile Film Festival is a welcoming group of like minded creatives, and the ideal place to have your Screendance work seen by new audiences and industry professionals alike." — Jamiel Laurence: Dancer. Choreographer. Filmmaker.

Screendance Category



Cosplay Film category is for films featuring cosplayers of all ages. We are looking for superheroes, steampunk, comic book and cartoon cosplayer films for this category. If you are a cosplayer round up your friends and your team! Shoot your film with your smartphone and read the rules, because the rules apply to all categories. Make it fun. You can make your film in any genre, music, documentary, dark or comedy, drama; it's your call. And speaking of call, this is your CALL TO ACTION! You got the costumes, you got the camera on your phone and you got stories so we are looking forward to your films to screen them during IMFF in San Diego...and yes, you can dress in your cosplay outfits for the red carpet!

Cosplay Category



Our community stories category is perfect for youth, kids and documentarians as well as just about anyone. Are you a teacher who can create a documentary with your class about a community event or news story? Are you a family going through a tough situation? Or are you simply a business owner who is working on improving the community where your customers live? Maybe you are a fan of a local band and want to feature them in a documentary or a child with a friend who needs help from the community.

Use your smartphone camera to share a story from your own community. You must be a part of the community whose story you tell through film and video.

This is not just a category. Community Stories is also open year-round as a program to encourage members of a community or culture to share their stories with the world through their mobile phone.

In order to screen your Community Story during IMFF in San Diego, submit your film for the short competition following the rules. Each year, we try to select one film from the shorts competition to feature as a Community Story. Contact us and tell us why your film should be selected and featured.

*There are many examples of topics you can choose to enter the Community Stories category or take advantage of the program without submitting a film for competition. Tell your own story through film and video.

Community Stories


A film that has cinematic qualities in both story-telling and aesthetic qualities. We hope to inspire you to create films that look like the films you see at the movie theaters with all the elements of a cinematic film including audio, effects and more. Films must all be filmed using a mobile phone and should be full High Definition (HD) quality. The same rules that apply to the other categories apply to this category. Rules apply.

Cinematic Category


We hope to encourage journalists to use their cell phones to tell their stories. Sharing stories instantly and without a huge intrusion in the lives of others has its benefits when the content and the action is taking place and it is dire to capture the action that does not wait for camera setups. The less intrusive mobile phone and the quickness of its setup, for either quick recording on the fly or planned productions, is beneficial and truly an innovation to the industry of journalism. If you are a freelance journalist or documentarian of current news, this is for you. If you are a blogger or if you are experimenting you qualify. Must abide to journalism ethics and policies. This is the ideal opportunity for MOJOs (Mobile Journalists) and Vloggers to be a part of our International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego! Rules apply.

We feel that the mobility and size of a mobile phone should produce some eccentric and access nature in it's natural state. If your film is about animals and species, or natural wildlife and the environment around the world...or in your backyard; this category is sure to be a creative challenge for mobile filmmaking. All rules apply. 

High quality creative business films shot with smartphones in horizontal format. All rules apply. These include promotional videos and event videos, branding and more. If your video is selected your video producer can attend the film festival representing your company and promote, network and use the red carpet film festival experience in your company's promotional and marketing campaigns. Rules apply.


Entering #MFF2021SanDiego with a mobile film is easy with FilmFreeway!

IMFF 2021 takes place in San Diego during the last weekend in April 2021.


Open Call for Films for IMFF 2021: OPEN June 19, 2020!

Shorts Competition: 6/19/20 thru 11/19/20 at 11:59PM (PST) 

Feature Film Competition: 6/19/20 thru 10/19/20 at 11:59PM (PST) 

Check Regular and Extended Deadlines on FilmFreeway.

International Mobile Film Festival is anIMDb Logoqualifying film festival 

Due to the Corona Virus COVID-19 situation during the Spring 2020, IMFF 2020 went virtual.


Read a bit about a lot that happened during #MFF2019SanDiego & #MFF2020SanDiego


 International Mobile Film Festival is a GOLD Member Film Festival on


The International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego is a member of GMFA. 

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Selected AWARDED films in IMFF 2020 may be nominated to the Global Mobile Film Awards™. Fee is waived. Online Awards Ceremony and Show.

Other filmmakers who shot a film with a mobile phone and have received an award by a non-member film festival can submit their awarded films to GMFA for a nomination for a fee. Read more on the GMFA website. All nominees from member film festivals and individuals must agree to make their nominated film available online publicly as part of GMFA's program for a selected period of time.

Films awarded by GMFA member film festivals are free and will be submitted by the member film festival at their discretion. Not all winning films will be selected for a nomination. Details will be provided on the website.

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