There is no denying the thrill of seeing your favorite flick on the big screen, taking your mind off work and getting lost in the film. But with more demands on us with work and every day life, do people even have time to go to the cinema or has the digital age simply taken over? With the incredibly fast speed of mobile and tablet devices, everything is available at the click of a button. However, with the busy schedules that seem to consume our lives, have we moved into a time where ninety minutes is just too long to sit and watch a film? Is short really the new long?
For filmmakers, short films give them the chance to create great cinema for a smaller budget and gain experience in the craft. But is finance the only reason they choose this medium or is it because you can enjoy a wonderful story in less time than it might take you to travel to the cinema?
Filmmaker Vikram Dasgupta’s decision to make his award-winning short film ‘Calcutta Taxi’ wasn’t down to choice; he was offered a deal by Bravo that he couldn’t refuse and reduced the film length accordingly. “Fortunately, my story had three lead characters and the way it was structured was about how the characters intersected each others lives and eventually found their respective story arcs and pay offs. It also meant – the opportunity for an indie filmmaker like myself to get funding for my ideas to get made. It was a sort of a litmus test to see if the story would fly.”
For Vikram it isn’t just about budget, but the freedom of being able to try things out stylistically and structurally. Money saving is also a factor that could entice the viewer; if the film costs less to make, it costs less to watch. However, there is more to these films than time saving; the quality of films has increased drastically and filmmakers are now making big budget style films, as shorts.
Francis Dreis directed the award winning short film ‘Point Mugu’, starring Skeet Ulrich (Scream) and Amelia Jackson-Gray (Entourage) and feels cheaper technology has created easier access to filmmaking. “Short film has seen an explosion since the democratization of filmmaking (cheaper technology). Every company has a short film about themselves, some of the bigger ones have many. It will only continue to grow and I think will find a way to monetize itself successfully online (YouTube, Vimeo), in television and in the theatre (playing before features like in Frozen).”
Amelia Jackson-Gray, star of ‘Point Mugu’ feels less time means you have to work harder to prove your talent as a filmmaker. “Making a short film can be harder than a feature film to pull off successfully as you have much less time to tell your story, which is how and why you can prove yourself as a filmmaker if you can do it well. The secret is to keep it simple. Keeping locations and characters to a minimum is key. Making sure every scene drives the story forward and if you’re really good at it every choice you make from music, dialogue and even color correction adds to driving the story forward.”
Not only are they timely, they are easier to access and take a lot less memory to download on to a portable device. Short films are simply more convenient, being easily available online and on-demand. Christoph Kushing the director and producer of the award winning short film ‘Hatch’, he feels it is not just time saving but our attention span is getting shorter and shorter. “A short is a great form to tell a story and engage an audience, while allowing directors to showcase their talent and get seen by a wider audience”.
Philippe Andre producer and director of the short film ‘Delicate Gravity’ shares “I chose this medium because it is the perfect one to develop any sort of idea.” Andre also feels “Short films are 100 meters and movies are marathons. Even for the audience. It’s more immediate. The journey is shorter and it’s very exciting.” To ensure the audience fell in love with the characters in this award winning film, he couldn’t make it too short. “In my film, Delicate Gravity, it’s first a very simple idea of a message left to the wrong person on an answer machine. But I’ve made a kind of complex short film with interesting characters. The film needed 30 minutes to achieve that.”
Are shorts the new long? Yes if you want to enjoy a quality film in less time, on the bus, on the train or at home. If you don’t have much time to spare, but want to escape for a while – short film could be the way forward.