Short film research
1) What is a short film?
A short film early is a technical description originally coined in the North
American film industry in the period of cinema. A short film is any film not long
enough to be considered a feature film. Date it was found 18/06/13
What makes short film interesting, though, is not its reduction to an indistinguishable
format, but above all its hybrid variety. Date it was found 18/06/13
Short film history
The very first films were presented to the public in 1894 through Thomas
Edison’s Kinetoscope, a peepshow-like device for individual viewing.
The best-known film from this time is perhaps the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of
a Train at La Ciotat (1895), which supposedly had audiences fleeing in terror as
a celluloid locomotive hurtled towards them.
In the early 1900s, improvements in recording and editing technology allowed
film-makers to produce longer, multi-shot films. From about 1910 onwards,
studio competition and audience demand induced film-makers to make even
longer, multi-reel films and the first features were born.
Dr Richard Farmer, an expert in British wartime cinema-going at University
College London, sees the period between 1939 and 1945 as “something of a
high-water mark for the short film in Britain”, though not everybody liked
them. “While the government was extraordinarily keen to place its messages in
British cinemas, cinema managers and patrons were much more ambivalent,”
“Some short films, especially those that showed British servicemen actively
fighting the war, proved to be very popular, but there were also concerns that
the cinema would gain a reputation as an 'interfering marm’ if it dedicated too
much time to short government films and not enough to the [predominantly
American] feature films upon which the magic of the pictures rested.”
Written by Rebecca Davies. Date: 18/06/13
Short films often cross genres. These are the best of the main film genres,
including; comedy, drama, horror, sci- fi and thriller.
Here is an example of a short film
The Last 3 Minutes by Po Chan (2010) (US) (5minutes)
Written and directed by American cinematographer Po Chan, The Last 3
Minutes is an unashamedly tear-jerking flashback through a dying man's life.
Every shot is lovingly crafted and there are some beautiful landscapes - as one
might expect from a DoP. Made in 2010, Chan also shows the possibilities of
the new class of video-capable DSLR cameras (in this case a Canon 5D). It is
Features of a short film
Hook - Transition from real world to film world. This usually starts in the
middle of a mess or
mid-level climax to get the audience quickly into the story.
Setup - the lead character is introduced with external wants (plot goals) and
(Theme goals). Limits and rules of film world are established.
Inciting incident - An event happens that changes the status quo (what's
Protagonist to take action to restore what is normal.
Journey into unknown - Protagonist sets off to accomplish his goal, leaving
what is safe and
Normal behind and entering the vast unknown (physically, emotionally, or
Investigation - Protagonist searches for the goal object or information while
series of obstacles, interactions, or conflict.
Turning point / big twist - A big plot twist, unexpected surprise, plot goal
information or unforeseen problems occurs to test the new change in the
Final confrontation - Confrontation between two characters has been building
beginning of the story and it finally happens.
Climax - the most intense moment of the film; a very big grand moment full of
tension, and epiphanies.
Resolution - Ties up loose ends in the story. Who lives/dies, wins/loses, gets
returns with the treasure, celebrates after a quest, or has a big death scene in
From the university of Florida. Date: 19/06/13
Shorts often cross genres
2) Why make them?
There are many reasons why you might make a short film and these will impact upon how
you go about it.
Making a film - be it a short or a feature - is largely a labour of love, so it's always worth
clarifying why you are embarking on such madness and adventure. You could be making it
Experience - you might want to experiment with pulling a team together to make a story on
A showreel - you might be pursuing a career in filmmaking and want to demonstrate your
Partnerships - you'd like to try working with certain people to see if you can go on to
collaborate on projects in the future.
Kudos - you may have found a high profile director/writer/actor, who'll help you raise your
filmmaking profile, or want to use your film to elevate your own industry profile.
Testing an idea out - you've always thought a certain story would work well on screen or
you've got a feature film idea that you want to try out on a small scale first.
Money - you may have been asked to work on a production with a budget to pay its crew.
(This is very rare as short films don't generally pay in any financial dividends.)
This link is an example of a short film, where it gives information about the producers,
Government funding for shorts comes largely through the UK Film Council*, but there are
other sources if you are prepared to look hard and to work your film around their agendas.
Many funding sources look to fund digital shorts rather than projects that want to shoot on
film, based on the argument that new directors should cut their teeth on the cheaper
UK Film Council/British Film Institute
Until recently the first place to look for funding on a national level was the UK Film Council,
but since the UKFC is due to close with the BFI taking over the majority of its responsibilities,
this is no longer the case. Until the BFI releases more information about future funding
models, filmmakers are in a temporary limbo, but more information will be posted here and
in our Related Links: Funding section.
National and Regional Screen Agencies
The UKFC model of nine independent regional film bodies has also been revised by the
coalition government. In its place is Creative England, a new organisation composed of three
regional hubs. Creative England is currently undergoing a strategic consultation and until
that is complete, funding options for filmmakers are again uncertain. We will try to post any
new on this page and in this section, when it is forthcoming: Related Links: Funding - UK
Local councils will often put money towards a short filmmaking initiative, especially if it
deals with social exclusion or aids the local community in some way. You could visit your
local council or county website to find out if their arts department will support a film
a number of charities fund short films (often though on an ad hoc basis). If you're interested
in getting funding from a charity, think laterally about the type of film you are trying to
make and don’t be afraid to contact organisations that are in some way linked to the
topic/goal of your film. For example the Welcome Trust (UK's largest medical research
charity) has an Arts Award that funds projects (including short films) inspired by biomedical
4)Short film success
The pitch: In November 2009, Uruguayan advertising director Federico Alvarez signed up to
visual effects blog www.motionographer.com and posted Panic Attack, an atmospheric
short depicting a robot attack on the city of Montevideo, which was three years in the
making. “People living in New York have watched Godzilla climbing their buildings,” says
Alvaraz, “but the people of Uruguay have never had that experience. Panic Attack was my
way of sharing that feeling with Uruguay. I wasn’t counting on it going global.”
The cost: Filming took place over one day and cost $300, most of the budget going to the
puzzled extras whose job it was to run screaming from absolutely nothing. The robots and
explosions were added later.
The reaction: Within days of the film going online, Alvarez was receiving calls from
Hollywood; by the end of the following week he was in LA with his new agent. Less than two
weeks later he had a contract with Mandate Pictures and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi to
create a $30 million feature film, an alien-invasion set in Buenos Aires, due to be released
- KEEP THE PRACTICALITIES OF WRITING IN MIND
- THE SHORTER THE BETTER
- MAKE IT VISUAL
- FIND SINGLE MOMENTS
- TELL A STORY
- ENGAGE THE READER
- BEWARE OF CLICHES