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Courage and Creativity: An Interview with Award-Winning Filmmaker Courtney Coker

We had the opportunity to connect with Courtney Coker, writer and director of LODI, winner of the the Best International Short Film award, at the Dublin Smartphone Film Festival 2024. The film follows two sisters on a road trip to visit their dad's grave as they confront the emotional weight of the last six years.

LODI was filmed on an iPhone 14 Pro using Filmic Pro and Moment apps. Courtney chose a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which gives the film a unique visual style and enhances its intimate and personal narrative.

A little bit about Courtney

Courtney Coker - writer and director of LODI
Image: Courtney Coker

Courtney is a multi-talented actor, poet, film producer, and director. 

Born and raised in southern Oregon, Courtney began her filmmaking journey by creating rap parody films for school projects using a borrowed Canon XL1. Her career advanced to production roles in major films such as Transformers: Bumblebee, Top Gun: Maverick, and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part I.  She is the Creative Executive on the feature development team at Lucasfilm, one of the world's leading film and entertainment companies. That's right, she works in a galaxy far, far away.

We asked Courtney questions about LODI, mobile filmmaking life and challenges. Here's what she had to say. 

Can you tell us about LODI?

"This is an incredibly personal story that took a lot of time and courage to share. I decided to film on an iPhone 14 Pro because it felt akin to how I would document a trip with my family. [It's also] way easier (and cheaper) to film with a phone when you shoot 11 pages in one day and drive over 200 miles in a vintage Mercedes with no A/C".

On Location LODI
On Location with LODI: Image courtesy of Courtney Coker

What are the top 3 things you have in your film kit bag for mobile filmmaking? 

"I always have a pretty good lighting setup. I usually bring a gimbal and then always remember to bring a charger. That is essential!"

What was the last movie that made you cry?

"The last movie that made me cry was Ghostlight [Directed by Kelly O'Sullivan and Alex Thompson]. I got to see it at a Film Festival, and it was a really beautiful story about a family dealing with past trauma". 

What were the greatest challenges in making LODI?

"One of the main challenges in making the short film was the fact that it was so hot outside. When we were shooting, the cameras kept overheating, so we would put the phones in a little cooler and let them take a break between our takes. 

Behind the Scenes film LODI
Behind the scenes LODI: Image courtesy Courtney Coker

What is your biggest fear as a filmmaker? 

“One of the biggest worries I have about making a film is if it's going to resonate with anyone. That's the whole reason we tell stories. I want to speak to people's hearts, to inform the way they change their relationships or live in the world. So that's always the greatest hope but also the greatest fear that no one's going to like or watch the thing you make. I'm very honoured and excited that Lodi is playing for the Dublin Smartphone Film Festival. I'm very grateful to the programmers. It's always just a joy to know that people around the world are going to see your film”

LODI screening at the Dublin Smartphone Film Festival
Image: LODI screening at the Dublin Smartphone Film Festival

Submit your film today—we’re excited to see your work!

We loved Courtney's film LODI and learning about her journey in filmmaking. Whether you're a budding or experienced mobile filmmaker, if you have a story to share, why not share it with the world? The Dublin Smartphone Film Festival is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your work and connect with our community of filmmakers.

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