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Short Films

By: Fermin Rojas

filmmaking short film

Short films are a unique and valuable form of storytelling that provide a platform for filmmakers to showcase their creativity and skills. While feature-length movies often take center stage in the film industry, short films offer a different kind of experience, one that is focused on concision, innovation, and experimentation. Short films are an art form that should be celebrated in its own right.

First and foremost, what is a short film. Although there are varying opinions, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits”. But their greatest relevance is that short films offer a way for filmmakers to experiment with new ideas and techniques without the financial and production demands of a feature-length film. This freedom to explore new concepts and push the boundaries of filmmaking can often lead to groundbreaking cinematic experiences that challenge both the filmmaker and the viewer. They also allow filmmakers of varying genres to test their own boundaries and hone their craft. Whether it be drama, comedy, sci-fi, horror, or documentary short films allow for a wide range of topics and styles that may not be suited to a feature-length format.

One of my favorite classic examples is a film that inspired my love of movies when I was about ten years old. Albert Lamorisse directs this short film about the experiences of a young boy and his balloon in Paris, one of the greatest survival and friendship stories ever told in a mere thirty-three minutes. It is also a platform for emerging filmmakers to showcase their talent and gain recognition in the industry. Another hallowed example is a1967 student film that, in fifteen minutes, creates a dystopian world with a unique immersive social and visual language. A film that foreshadowed the genius of the man that would go on to create Star Wars and Indiana Jones - George Lucas. Yes, I confess! I’m a science-fiction fan. At the other end of the creative spectrum is by Minhal Baig, a daring taboo storytelling about a sixteen-year old Muslim girl who struggles to reconcile her inner world with her socially conservative home.

Short documentaries are particularly well suited to tackle emotionally and socially challenging topics. One of the most powerful filmic gut punches I’ve experienced is Lucy Walker and Marianna Palka’s emotionally devastating film; in which a young woman confronts the possibility of having inherited the gene for Huntington’s disease from her father. Or, Rayka Sehtabchi’s 2019 Academy Award-winning film Period. End of Sentence in which a group of women in India install a machine to sell menstrual pads in their village with the help of students in the United States.

Short films were once relegated to the world of film festivals. However, over the last few years the film industry has seen a rise in online and distribution platforms for amazing short films. Some of my personal favorites are , and the YouTube channel for horror fans. This accessibility has created a new avenue for filmmakers to gain exposure and connect with potential collaborators, investors, and audiences.

So, take the time to explore the richly cinematic world of short films. You will find treasures and learn about people, places and things that we may only ever encounter on film - all in a compact amount of time that may be suited for a lot of viewers nowadays. As a short filmmaker myself, I urge you to show some love and financial support for today’s short filmmakers. It is an art form worth, at least, a little bit of your time.


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