Author Topic: What is short film  (Read 4966 times)

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Tictacbk

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What is short film
« on: September 06, 2005, 11:55:34 PM »
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Being the film students that some of us are we are all faced with the challenge of creating short films.  My question to all of you is what should the short film be as a medium?  Me and my future partner are diving into this question as I type this.  What makes a good short film a good film?  Do they have a beginning middle and end, are they what could be a feature film cut down?  

I personally think the best short films are about simply and experience or a conversation or an idea, with no "plot" in the beginning middle and end sense of the idea...but I respect the opinion of mostly everyone on here...so what do you think?

polkablues

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What is short film
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2005, 01:47:56 AM »
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My personal taste runs to short films that are all middle.  A series of snapshots of a character's story without trying to slam a three-act structure into fifteen minutes.  That said, I've seen (and made) short films that I liked very much, which were essentially shrunken features.

Shorts really give you a great opportunity to be as obtuse as you want to be, to make the film solely about theme or style, being able to ignore plot entirely if you feel like it.  You're not beholden to trying to sustain people's interest for 90 minutes or longer, so you're more free to give them something they're not expecting.

The best short film I've ever seen was one called "Warmth", directed by Michael Schaerer, which won a student academy award in 2001.  It had no real story to speak of, just sort of jumped around between a series of groups of people eating at a diner, and it was beautifully shot, almost entirely theme-based, and had this amazingly impressionistic, surreal ending that you could never get away with in a feature-length film.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

SHAFTR

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What is short film
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2005, 01:50:42 AM »
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I like that a short can just simply be an exercise in style.  There is a lot that can be learned from that.
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ono

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What is short film
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2005, 02:07:22 AM »
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Short film: a film running under 50 minutes in length.

If Sundance says it, it must be true.

Seriously, how long does a piece of string need to be?
Quote from: polkablues
The best short film I've ever seen was one called "Warmth", directed by Michael Schaerer, which won a student academy award in 2001.  It had no real story to speak of, just sort of jumped around between a series of groups of people eating at a diner, and it was beautifully shot, almost entirely theme-based, and had this amazingly impressionistic, surreal ending that you could never get away with in a feature-length film.

Where can I see this?

Most short films I find tend to be high-concept.  Really, I mean, where else can you go?  High-concept isn't necessarily a bad thing, though.  There are a few that have worked.  An idea, and yeah, there usually are three acts, and that structure (all stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but that begs the question should films -- shorts especially -- be bound to this rule?), with that limited amount of time, leaves you very few places to go unless you're willing to drag things out.  After 20 minutes, things become a sitcom.  And after 40 minutes you're wondering why they didn't either stretch things into a feature and flesh things out more, or simply cut down, and leave certain things alone.

I've seen very few good short films, that is, ones that leave an indelible impression.  It's an economy thing (or maybe it's just I've seen too many student projects).  They're an art form unto themselves, and very few people have taken the time to master them.  Music videos, though, take this idea to the next level, exploiting all a short film can really be, given a blueprint of the song it represents.

socketlevel

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What is short film
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2005, 08:23:14 AM »
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even a scene can have a three act structure.  i find there usually is this even if on a microcosm in short films.

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Ghostboy

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What is short film
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2005, 01:08:34 PM »
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I think a perfect short film, like any kind of film, is no more or less than it needs to be. I've seen some brilliant shorts with precise three act structures, ranging from three to forty minutes; and then there are those that are just a fragment, an impression of a moment or series of moments with no overt narrative, that can be just as wonderful; and on a different level, there are the abstract pieces, the video installations, that truly take the possibilities of film and run with them, free from narrative constraints.

I lean more towards the plotless style of short film at the moment, just because that's more what I'm interested in making, but I have nothing against a tightly written short film that hits all the traditional beats of a story.

It's true, too, that even the most abstract and seemingly arbitrary of narratives can be seen to have a three act structure. Sometimes this is inherent to the form; other times, as in the case with, for example, Stan Brakhage films, it's because we the audience impose these recognitive values on the work.

Regardless, I don't think they become sitcom-ish past a certain length, as ono suggests, because they are not ongoing. If 'Friends' had never been conceived as anything more than a single thirty minute episode, well, then it would be a short film.

kotte

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What is short film
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2005, 01:56:53 PM »
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I appreciate short films with strong ideas. Don't care what it's about, it's short and the filmmaker is free to do any fucking thing he wants.

A short needs a strong idea and the sense of a creator with a vision.
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Slick Shoes

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What is short film
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2005, 06:50:08 PM »
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i recently attended this thing called the '48 hour film festival' where they screened about 20 shorts films back to back to back. each film was made in two days. they all clocked in around ten minutes, some less. the best ones didn't take themselves too seriously. they were more comical. a few tried going to this deeply emotional place and those ones didn't  work so well. i think you gotta be really skilled to pull off heavy drama in a short.

polkablues

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What is short film
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2005, 08:36:10 PM »
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Quote from: ono
Quote from: polkablues
"Warmth", directed by Michael Schaerer

Where can I see this?


I wish I knew.  I saw it while going to school at Eastern Washington University; one of my professors had gotten ahold of a tape with all of the 2001 Student Academy Award winners, and we watched them all over a couple of days.  "Warmth" was by far the most amazing.  Sadly, I never got a copy of it, and I've searched everywhere to try and buy it, to no avail.  It doesn't even have a page on IMDB, which suprises me.

Another film that I saw under the same circumstances that I would love to find again is "Helicopter", by Ari Gold.  It's a very experimental, multimedia (if that makes sense) non-fiction short film about the director's coping (or more accurately, failing to cope) with his mom dying in a helicopter crash.  It's the only movie that's ever made me cry in a public place.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Ghostboy

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What is short film
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2005, 08:56:21 PM »
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Quote from: polkablues
Another film that I saw under the same circumstances that I would love to find again is "Helicopter", by Ari Gold.  It's a very experimental, multimedia (if that makes sense) non-fiction short film about the director's coping (or more accurately, failing to cope) with his mom dying in a helicopter crash.  It's the only movie that's ever made me cry in a public place.


You can get it on DVD right here.

The best film I've seen all year is a 30 minute short film called The Phantom Limb, directed by Jay Rosenblatt. It's similar to Helicopter, and it's sort of about the death of the director's younger brother. I saw it a festival a few months ago, and had to leave afterwards - I couldn't watch anything else that night. You can see a few minutes of it at the director's site, http://www.jayrosenblattfilms.com/phantom.html

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matt35mm

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What is short film
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2005, 09:36:49 PM »
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Quote from: Ghostboy
You can get it on DVD right here.

"Culture," his one minute film available for download on that site, is great, pure and simple.

polkablues

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What is short film
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2005, 10:30:41 PM »
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Ghostboy, I love you.  If you found a place I could buy "Warmth", I would marry you and never leave your side.  

I'll have to check out "Phantom Limb"... sounds like something right up my alley.

That's another thing short films are particularly good for: telling stories about grief and loss that are so oppressively painful to watch that no one would survive two hours of them.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Ghostboy

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What is short film
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2005, 10:48:17 PM »
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You can e-mail the director and ask him where you can get a copy....

killafilm

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Re: What is short film
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2006, 01:35:51 AM »
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i recently attended this thing called the '48 hour film festival' where they screened about 20 shorts films back to back to back. each film was made in two days. they all clocked in around ten minutes, some less. the best ones didn't take themselves too seriously. they were more comical. a few tried going to this deeply emotional place and those ones didn't  work so well. i think you gotta be really skilled to pull off heavy drama in a short.

Has anyone participated in one of these? Some friends are competing in the DC fest next month, and I'm looking for any and all advice. 

We'll have at least one DVX100a, maybe two.  My friends dad is a sound engineer for ABC and he's doing all of the recording so we're set there.  It just seems like a big task to get everything done.

Ghostboy

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Re: What is short film
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2006, 01:55:11 AM »
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I've done them, although it's more fun when they're limited to 24 hours. You really just have to be prepared to think fast and to not sleep, and otherwise it's not too hard. It's a hell of a lot of fun. The ones I've done had Red Bull sponsoring it, so you could put in an order at any point during the 24 hours and they'd deliver Red Bull to everyone on your crew.

 

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