Shorts are perhaps not the most obvious route a beginning filmmaker might take. You can’t pop down to the local theatre and see them. The only ones you can recall being in the public discourse are the ones shown before Pixar blockbusters.
So what’s the point? Why even bother? If it’s not a feature – what use is it, because no one’s going to see it anyway?
Whether you’re just starting out or an old pro, shorts DO have a point, you SHOULD bother, and people WILL see them.
1. ARTISTIC FREEDOM
Let’s start with some of the reasons you’re on this website, why you might be reading this right now: Curiosity. Passion. Drive. All obvious qualities you know you’ll need to get your film made.
When you free yourself from the burden of making sure your concept has to sustain a 60-90 minute running time, you free up your creative instincts to let them guide you on just how long your film should be. Certainly the longer film is not always the better one.
2. PRACTICE YOUR RISKIER, UNIQUE WORK
When you free up your creative instincts from some artificially conceived running time, you’re freer to create riskier, more inventive, more interesting work. No one’s barking down on you telling you anything has to be a certain length. At the heart of your film might be a message – a statement you want to make to the audience through your work.
A shorter message can be more incisive than one diluted by length. This leads to one of the most quintessential benefits of doing a short: The practice. Anyone can do risky, creative work. But the skill to do risky, creative work well takes practice. Shorts allow you to hone every aspect of your filmmaking skills.
3. POST-PRODUCTION EASE
Imagine how much more efficiently you’ll be able to pay attention to every frame and shot you know is necessary to tell the story when your running time is 15 minutes instead of 50. How increased your ability will be to go back and refine, go back and refine, go back and refine until it’s just right.
4. THE ALMIGHTY BUDGET
Getting your film made, the story effectively told with as low a budget as possible provides obvious benefits. As if you need to read anything about its virtues. But that idea extends deeper than you might expect. The film industry is obsessed with money. It is a business after all.
If you want to impress the movie-business moguls, all you really need to do is understand exactly what the realistic income is for your movie. Then make it for less than that. You will be deemed to have talent. In the end, while you want the film to impress viewers, you want your budgeting skills to impress executives. Your hours of practice and refining of skills proves to those executives that you’re worth taking a chance on, and that you know how to make a picture that doesn’t risk money.
5. ONLINE MARKETING
Impressions. Ultimately, you want your film to be a launching pad for audiences and executives alike to give you the support to make more films. That’s what it’s all about: how are you going to get your film seen when you’re a budding filmmaker, with a low budget, and fewer reliable contacts than your more established peers?
A short can be easily put on YouTube, easily posted as a status on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, or embedded in an article on an indie-film website. You’ll be submitting your short to the same festivals where feature-lengths are, but you have the advantage. You can go viral. A short can provide the break or breakthrough you need to launch your career.
6. THE UNTAPPED MARKET
Going viral is even more likely in this digital age than it ever was before. Much has been written about our shortened attention spans. Many theatre shows are almost three hours, and movie tickets are expensive. I fully believe there is a budding market out there for short films in the popular marketplace, because shorts allow an audience to see a greater variety of interesting work.
Even better, getting your short screened at the right festivals or three theaters allows you to qualify for the Best Short (Animated or Live Action) Oscar. As if you needed any extra incentive.
Stop reading this right now, and go write, shoot or direct your short. Power through. Then do it again!
I’m Not Gonna Move to LA – 2012 Finale
“OUR YEARLY FINALE OF OUR LOCAL FILM SERIES IS GOING TO BE A TERRIFYING GOOD TIME”
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