Musings on Short Films — What are some of your favorites?

Hello all, in light of an upcoming interview with a short film director I met at TCFF, I thought I’d switch the focus from feature films to short films today.

Per Wikipedia, a short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: 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.”

Historically, shorts were the norm before the 1920s, when longer films were still rare. My mom used to bring Laurel & Hardy films back when I was a wee kid, and along with Charlie Chaplin films, comedy shorts were popular back then before they became feature films. Nowadays, shorts generally rely on various film events to reach a larger audience. Most film festivals have a special category for them, as do the Academy Awards. Of course the Internet is a medium that short films thrive on. There are a plethora of sites dedicated for shorts, i.e. Short of the Week, The Smalls, Atom, etc. and my hubby goes to Vimeo often to watch shorts. I think he watches them more than I do. Judging from the impressive quality of a lot of short films, I really should watch more of them.

For the filmmakers themselves, making short films could lead to a breakthrough in their career when their work gets noticed. I posted this one called The Gift by Carl Rinsch on this post last year which is an impressive sci-fi short about a futuristic robot butler who flees the police. Granted Rinsch already had a successful career as a commercial director, but this short might’ve boosted his career big time and now he’s directing 47 Ronin, a samurai thriller with Keanu Reeves.

Short films I’m most familiar with are those by Pixar as they’re always shown at the beginning of their feature films. My favorite one is For the Birds… I mean it’s just so darn adorable!! It just proves not only the technical prowess of Pixar, but also their keen storytelling ability and in creating such fun characters. A few years ago, I also watched a bunch of those BMW short films, a series of eight shorts called The Hire starring Clive Owen. It’s a very clever way to market their luxury cars, and expensive too I reckon, as all of them are directed by famous directors such as Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Alejandro González Iñárritu, etc. Most of them are very impressive, they could almost work as a feature film as well if they’d invest on building the script.

I find that shorts are often more creative than feature films. Perhaps because a lot of them are created without the influence of studios, the purse-strings that dictate what the films are supposed to be. Creative freedom seems rather scarce these days, I mean just look at most of the mainstream offerings at your local cineplex.

So anyway, here are my five favorite shorts that I can think of at the top of my head. I posted Please! a couple of years ago but I watched it again recently and the ending still gave me chills. Some of these are whimsical and some are serious & heart-wrenching stuff, the World Builder one actually made me cry!

The Raven

Pixar’s For The Birds

World Builder

Please! starring Gerry Butler

BMW Films – The Follow starring Clive Owen

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So are you a big fan of short films? Please do share some of your favorite short films you’ve seen.