Short Films VS Long Films
Films, what would we do without them? Pretty much just forced to rely on sleeping on our bellies and dreaming.
How well do you know your films? In this fast-paced digital era, it seems almost inevitable that people are gravitating towards short films, blame it on the diminishing attention span thanks to ephemeral content social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram (Instastory).
It has become a possibility for people to create successful viral content within a shorter timeframe. At present, influencers from social media have become a huge part of the ongoing youth culture and according to surveys, the top ten videos on YouTube have an average duration of 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
This is even briefer than a short film, which the Academy of Motion Arts and Picture define as a film 40 minutes or less.
Why Short is the New Long?
This makes a lot of sense since the young generation or affectionately touted as generation Z /digital nomads, have the attention span of 8 seconds. Thus, it might be important that aspiring filmmakers consider the characteristics of this upcoming generation, which might make up as much as 30% of the workforce within the near future.
These consumers will become the next wave of moviegoers and critics and if done right, you might just snag their attention within 8 seconds, quite like the rumoured memory of a goldfish.
“Misunderstood genius?” (Credits: Zhengtao Tang on Unsplash)
But more on that later.
Now, let us proceed with the description of a long film, which has come to represent the hallmark of cinema over the last couple of decades. We shall also look at some of the winning examples from that category.
A long film is also known as a motion picture or feature film. Based on the definition of the Screen Actors Guild, the film must be at least 60 minutes long, which is the average duration of a movie at the theaters. However, the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences believes that anything beyond 40 minutes should suffice, while other film organizations have given their own variation on this rule.
Regardless of the definition, the film is simply put, long enough to be disqualified as a short film.
The first ever feature film was a British training documentary shot in 1900, uninspiringly titled “In the Army”, while the predecessor of dramatic feature films was the Australian-made The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) directed by Charles Tait, which reenacts the life of the notorious outlaw Ned Kelly, who terrorized the land down under in the 1700s.
Noticeably, film did not begin on a chirpy note.
Some examples of critically acclaimed feature films include Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and The Maltese Falcon (1941).
A feature film is usually costlier to produce and takes a longer time to shoot compared to a short film but those are not the only reasons why a budding filmmaker should be leaping at the thought of producing a short film in his/her young career.
In the next segment, we shall talk about short films and how it is recommended for upcoming filmmakers to try their hand at them before moving on to the complexities of a feature.
So, you wish to make a short film?
Aside from a reduced shooting schedule and a slighter pinch of the wallet, there are other perks involved in embarking on a short film project, such as the versatility of using the footage as a showcase of the screenplay for a feature.
“The long and short of things” (Credits: Annie Spratt on Unsplash)
This tried and tested method has been worked out by Leigh Whannell, the screenwriter of cult movie Saw (2004), where the main piece had lacked funding but eventually won over financiers through a well-produced 7-minute short film showcased to studio execs.
Thus, one may consider short films to be a slice of the pie or one of those perfume strips that get handed out in malls, when it comes down to the world of cinema. Additionally, short films afford new director more opportunities to get familiarized with his/her inner voice and style through experimentation.
Compare failing with a twenty-million-dollar budget feature, which takes months to complete, as opposed to a short film flop that ran on a few thousand dollars and shot within days, the difference is staggering.
As Director Michael Litwark once concisely shared:
“If you make a ten-million-dollar film and you mess it up, no one’s ever going to give you ten million dollars ever again. Whereas if you make a short for a thousand dollars and it’s a bust then the only thing you’ve lost is maybe five or ten days of time and $1,000.”
And the art of filming, like any other field, demands plentiful experiences that will bring about some measure of error and disappointment. So, if you are going to crash anyhow, at least prevent the burning part.
Examples of short film hits include: Six Shooter (2004), Successful Alcoholics (2010) and House on Little Cubes (2008).
“Short films and the world at large” (Credits: Unsplash)
Consider the short film as a way of displaying to the broader audience that your concept is a workable one with a certain depth of storytelling, perhaps through focusing on one interesting detail that grabs attention.
For example, if your feature is about an island paradise invaded by bloodthirsty midget natives, your short film could feature a single narrative from the perspective of a survivor who witnessed the ordeal; a microcosm of your grand idea.
As mentioned earlier in the article, younger audiences are exhibiting a trend in their consumer practices.
Due to the speed of information transfer and level of stimulation offered by the internet, now might be the ideal time for filmmakers to perhaps shift their focus onto short films.
So, go out there and experiment!
In fact, now is a good time for film enthusiasts to begin their venture if they have not already done so.
Film equipment is becoming readily available through high specification phone cameras such as with the iPhone 7 plus, which was the device of choice for director Steven Soderbergh when he filmed the 2018 thriller Unsane, starring Claire Foy who gained recognition from her starring role in The Crown as queen Elizabeth II.
“The endless magic of cellphones” (Credits: Neil Soni on Unsplash)
The movie is about a troubled woman who unknowingly checks herself into an asylum while avoiding a stalker, which triggers a series of unfortunate events. It is impressive to say the least, that the movie had been fully captured by a phone with the FiLMiC Pro application.
Video-uploading platform YouTube has seen a recent resurgence due to the rising number of gen-z users who depend on social media for their daily news, life updates and general information.
The platform has been extremely successful for some filmmakers who have uploaded their content on the site, which became viral.
“Feeling blind” (Credits: Akira Hojo on Unsplash)
Lights out (2013), a creepy horror film directed and produced by David Sandberg is quite possibly the ideal nightmare for Nyctophobic (darkness-fearing) viewers. The content was released on YouTube and Vimeo, to an overwhelmingly positive response.
The strong reception led to the production of an extended feature film version of the video with a line-up of prolific producers including James Wan (director of Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring). The film was given its world premier at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2016.
Speaking of YouTube, big stars have taken to starring in content launched on the platform. In Rakka (2017), legendary actress Sigourney Weaver (iconic for her role in the 1986 movie Aliens) played the lead role of Jasper, a resistance leader in an apocalyptic world.
And speaking of video platforms, why not visit Premise TV, the edgy interactive media platform that allows aspiring filmmakers to fulfill their crowdfunding and networking needs? The site was created by film enthusiasts for enthusiasts and has a highly interactive interface that encourages online discussions and cohesion between members of the film community.
Additionally, the site is engaging in its radical content as the creators do not believe that a good idea should go censored. Premise TV revives and allows good films to come to life. Join us today and kick-start your projects towards acclaim!
Author: Laurenzo Jude