Short films are the gateway to filmmaking for many people. Whether it is by participating in them on any role, or watching them at the movies or online, short films remain one of the best ways to be introduced and introduce others to film. The medium itself is not that much different from feature filmmaking in terms of techniques or execution, but there are some misconceptions that lead people to believe it is a lesser art form. If you are interested in making short films but feel somewhat discouraged due to what you’ve been told about them, here are 7 things you should know before you get shooting.
How long does a film have to be to still be considered a short film?
A short film is considered such as long as it is up to 40 minutes in length. Anything within that range is a short film, and anything over that limit is then deemed a feature film.
How long should a short film actually be?
Just as some films can sometimes be considered too long, short films as well can be a bit over their ideal length. It all depends on the piece, but the sweet spot in general should be around 10 minutes or a maximum of 15 minutes. Aside from the fact that keeping their work short and sweet should be the aim of every filmmaker, these short lengths also help in terms of audience engagement, theater showings, and even in terms of commercialization.
Don’t say what you can show
The very limited time you have to tell a story in these cases means that time is more precious than ever. While you could just use expository dialogue to get out of the hassle of explaining your plot, the idea of film is to use the potential of the medium, reason for which showing actions instead of explaining them through dialogue is something that should be even more present in short films.
Your short can be the start of something greater
Short films and feature films all start as ideas. The fact that you develop your idea into a short film doesn’t mean that tomorrow it can’t turn into a full-length feature. It’s all a matter of exposition and dedication. If you make a short film aiming to catch the attention of producers and distributors, don’t discard the idea to turn that very same project into a full-blown movie.
Shorts are the best way to experiment new things
If you have new things you want to try out and see what kind of effect you get, shooting a short film in which you test them out is a great way to both get practical experience and also end up with a finished product that you can add to your reel and put out into the world. If the technique or effect is somewhat complex, the short format helps to reduce costs and focus more on that particular element as well.
There is money in short films
It is no secret to anyone in the industry that there are plenty of industry contests and awards to get both locally, nationally, and even internationally. These are also windows to greater exposition, and even distribution deals in different platforms. Making films costs money, but there is also money to be made from them!
The biggest award shows are just a short film away
Some of the same contests that give out prize money to their competitors also happen to be some of the broadest windows to the world, and pathways to some of the most highly coveted award shows in the industry. Although it helps a lot, you technically don’t have to be sponsored by a big studio or company to make a quality film that might qualify your work to reach the highest stages in film.