The Short Film
I like short films. I know they're out of style for some. When the age of relatively low-cost digital tech arrived and the general ease it is now to shoot, edit and post on-line content, the advent of the web series was a great draw for many, including me. Obviously. Just check out my stuff. The chance for episodic storytelling was huge, but at the expense of the short film. (Technically, they're not films, but the name stuck and calling them "short movies" or "shorts" doesn't really do it for me.)
But why the hate for short films? I've previously blogged about two of my earlier works which were shorts and what struck me was that they were completed works. Smaller in scale and in story, but brought to a completion. Web series are great and fun to do, but how many times do you watch one and it's not fully completed? Whether it's not enough money for another season or it's a one episode and done kind of thing.
This is not a referendum on people making short films. Many people do make short films, but because of lack of interest and lack of funds, these short films are no very good. Short films may be considered less-than by some when compared to features, but in reality they are far from that. Short films are stories just the same as features and I know a few features that would've worked much better as a short film. The short film genre is misunderstood by many.
I wrote a short film script - "Kiddo" - and I showed it to a few people with the help of my partner in crime, Adrian, and the response we'd get was: "I like it, but I can get you money easier if it was a feature and not a short." So, of course, I wrote it out as a feature, but the story of an underground Nazi spy ring in New York City circa 1940 starts to out-price one's budget and I didn't even mention the final shoot-out atop of the Empire State Building. (Excerpt from script, if interested)
Needless to say, we did not make that movie. But the short would've been great. I often wonder, even though I love the script, that perhaps I missed out on a chance to make something special.
I have another short film script. "22 Miles From Trenton". The title refers to the distance of the town of Grover's Mill, NJ from Princeton, as it was referenced in the 1938 War of the World's broadcast. This story is about 20 pages and it tells the story of two sisters, who reside near Grover's Mill, dealing with the reality that the broadcast is in fact real and they are in danger. I culled real-life stories from that time period and shaped a story out of them.
Could I make that into a feature? Sure. But I don't want to. I think it would work lovely as a short film. And again, we showed this to someone and got the same general response. "It's great. But it's a short? Why make a short?" I actually understand that thinking. Most people are creating content in hopes of getting paid to create bigger content, but when you do that, you're chasing the dream and not living it.
Short films were good enough for these directors: Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Christopher Nolan, Martine Scorcese - Shouldn't they be good enough for you.