Should YouTube be worried? Mobli ‘Tropfest Micro’ offers amateur filmmakers a spotlight

mobli tropfest channel

Just existing as a mobile app isn’t good enough any longer. The bubble has burst for camera and video apps, motivating photo-sharing apps like Hipstimatic into rethinking their strategies. Mobli, an underdog competitor to SocialCam and Viddy, is looking to establish itself as the YouTube of short-form social video by partnering with Tropfest for the Tropfest Micro Film Festival.

The synergy between the two is apparent. Mobli, backed by investors Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio, is a platform for recording and quickly uploading quality short form videos. The Tropfest festival is the largest short film festival in the world that travels from city to city, making yearly rounds in Abu Dhabi, London, Toronto, Bangkok and finally this year in 2012, to New York City. The festival’s U.S. debut will be supported by A-list ambassadors including Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Liev Schrieber. For Mobli, the festival is the quintessential public medium to make a splashy launch for its first channel, “TropfestMicro.”

Mobli is calling TropfestMicro a “film festival in your pocket.” It will showcase submissions for Tropfest’s first Micro Film Festival, headed by Tobey Maguire. “We’re all storytellers–and with a visual platform like Mobli, we’re not just being given access to watch films at a festival, but to be active participants, no matter who we are or where we are in the world,” Maguire said.

For those of you interested in the details for submissions, entries for Mobli’s Tropfest Micro Film Festival must be a “micro” film with a maximum length of 70 seconds, and contain audible laughter. Entries can be uploaded to Mobli’s TropfestMicro channel until January 15, 2013. The Grand Prize winner will be selected from a panel of celebrities and industry insiders for a prize package including $10,000, and a paid trip to debut the winner’s film at Tropfest Australia 2013.

Mobli’s adopters thus far have been from the opposite ends of the user spectrum. At one end are the celebrity ambassadors who have made Mobli their video app of choice. At the other end of the spectrum is its core target demographic, the unknown filmmakers that Mobli hopes will usher in the next generation of Web stars. After all, why does YouTube have to be the only platform to deliver Web celebrities to the Internet?

With YouTube beginning to sway under the weight of its own hosted talent, whose personalities are outgrowing the platform, there’s a developed market and an open opportunity for Mobli to scratch out its own YouTube-like channels with the hope that it will birth the next Web stars.

Edit: We initially wrote that Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Liev Schrieber were Mobli ambassadors. These celebrities are in fact the U.S. ambassadors for Tropfest.