“The fantasy of creating something that has an emotional impact on others is what motivates many people to go into picture-making in the first place. There is, also, the artistic satisfaction”. (Rea 2014) Short films offer media producers the chance to fully understand the learning process of making a film and to hone their craft, it allows them to express themselves and display their talents on a controllable scale. In the course of making your film, you’ll have many opportunities to be creative in the face of limitation. (Gurskis 2006:115)
Often the limitation would concern the audience and their emotional investment into the film. With not a lot of time to get the audience connected to a character stereotypes, dramatic or specific details are often used in order for the audience to guess at the character and their background and personality. This doesn’t mean you have to completely over exaggerate your storyline as often “the best story ideas for shorts are relatively simple.” (Cowgill 2010) Sticking to a handful of characters at the most can help with this.
In the early years of cinema all films were shorts which “can be from ten seconds to 20 minutes long and of any genre” (Dawkins and Wynd 2010), nevertheless with the increase of popularity for feature films in 1910’s, short films continued to be popular as “short subjects” – films often shown before features, headlined by performers like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. Fortunately short films are once again rising in popularity with the Internet, film festivals and more occasions and outlets used to screen shorts now than ever before. (Gurskis 2006:4) Arguably some of the most seen short films have been by Disney and Pixar as they are shown before their feature films, such as ‘For the Birds’ (2000), ‘The Blue Umbrella’ (2014) and soon the more anticipated ‘Frozen Fever.’ (2015) “Pixar’s short films convinced Disney that if the company could produce memorable characters within five minutes, then the confidence was there in creating a feature film with those abilities in story and character development.” (John Lasseter)
Popular actors are also known to feature in short films, the smaller contract times and more creative scripts appealing, also for amateur actors as it can have a large effect on their show reel.
With the advancement of technology it has allowed everyone the opportunity to produce a film, all that’s needed is a modern phone to shoot it and an Internet connection to distribute it, which is proven with there being two film festivals centred around being filmed on an iPhone. (iPhone Film festival and Original iPhone Film Festival) In fact one of the biggest astonishments in this years Sundance Film Festival came in the form of Sean Baker’s transgender prostitution film ‘Tangerine’ which was shot entirely on an iPhone 5S, apparently in order to keep the film budget down. (The Verg)
“Yes you can make a beautiful-looking film on a shoestring budget but you have to know 100 years worth of filmmaking.” (Baker 2015)
Regrettably money is often a limitation when it comes to short films, for students we have it somewhat easier by having access to equipment free, yet independent filmmakers aren’t entitled to such things.
Here are 10 examples of funding available depending on circumstances;
- The Studio Model
- Government Funding
- UK Government Funding
- UK Tax Finance – EIS
- Pre-sales and Co-productions
- Product Placements
- Crowd Funding
- Self Financed
Modern times have brought in the free distribution of films, with sites such as Short of the week, CreateSpace, Vimeo, Youtube, BBC Fresh and others it allows media producers to not only save money on distribution but access an audience they perhaps would of not been able to through traditional methods as less people are more inclined to pay for films. Yet unlike traditional methods this wouldn’t be nearly as profitable.
“The ideal situation was and still is to sign a distribution deal with a reputable film distributor who will then take care of all the possible distribution channels: theatrical distribution, television, DVDs, video on demand, etc. In the ideal situation, the distributor pays the filmmaker a decent advance and they then split the revenues after the distributor has recouped costs (this is known as Gross Adjusted Deal). What many filmmakers don’t realise is that the advantage of an advance payment from the distributor is not just about money — the real advantage of this sort of deal is that it really forces the distributor to do his best with the film, because they paid you an upfront fee for it and are therefore highly motivated to generate some serious revenues.” (LAVideoFilmaker 2012)
Therefore you can see why short films are a popular medium for students, independent filmmakers and film companies wishing for the accolades- though this comes with less creativity and more mass appeal, the history of short films continues through the ages and with the increase in technology, distribution and more funding options available it will be fascinating to see where this history will lead to.
- – 10 Routes to finance your film (2012) [ONLINE] Available from <https://www.raindance.org/10-routes-to-finance-your-film/> [Accessed 14 March 2015]
- – Cowgill, L (2010) Writing Short Films: Structure and Content for Screenwriters. New York: Watson-Guptil Publications [Accessed 16 March 2015]
- – Dawkins, S and Wynd, I (2010) Video Production: Putting Theory Into Practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan [Accessed 16 March 2015]
- – Denham, J. Tangerine: The Sundance Film Festival trans movie shot entirely on an iPhone 5S (2015) [ONLINE] Available from <http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/tangerine-the-sundance-film-festival-trans-movie-shot-entirely-on-an-iphone-5s-10013900.html> [Accessed 16 March 2015]
- – Gurskis, D. (2006) Short Screenplay : Your Short Film from Concept to Production. Cengage Learning PTR [Accessed 16 March 2015]
- – Independent Film Distribution Tips: a Guide for Indie Filmmakers [Online] Available from (2012)<http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/filmmaking/independent-film-distribution-tips-a-guide-for-indie-filmmakers.html> [Accessed 15 March 2015]
- – iPhone Film Festival.(2015) [ONLINE] Available from <http://www.iphoneff.com/> [Accessed 16 March 2015]
– Original iPhone Film Festival (2015) [ONLINE] Available from <http://iphonefilmmaker.com/> [Accessed 16 March 2015]
- – Krell, J. All Of Pixar’s Short Films, Ranked (2014) [ONLINE] Available from <http://animation.io9.com/try-ranking-all-13-of-pixars-shorts-1583360175> [Accessed 15 March 2015]
- – Pixar Short Films (2012) [ONLINE] Available from <http://www.pixar.com/short_films/> [Accessed 15 March 2015]
- – Rea, P.W. & Irving, D.K., (1995) Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video, United Kingdom: Focal Press. [Accessed 16 March 2015]