What, I hear you say? How can that possibly be? So many of us are making them now, it’s a thriving art form, just look at Vimeo!
Right. Name one great short film. Go on.
Okay, name another one.
For me personally, my favourite is by the Diamond Dogs, amazing music video directors who won VM Shorts a long while back with the Black Hole. Stunningly simple, but perfect. That was when I thought that VM Shorts was a great comp. Subsequent winners have tempered my appreciation of it however. Since then, I could possibly name Mustapha Kseibati’s Painkiller as one to watch. I liked the winner of the Sci-fi London 48 hour film challenge a year back. Pitch Black Heist is another one that’s definitely worth seeing.
There is no real meaningful platform for short fiction content. Vimeo is great but it’s not heavily curated. There’s also this overwhelming sense that shorts are just a rite of passage, a quickly forgotten calling card exercise on the way to feature films. No-one really gives a shit.
Let me make this clear. I don’t hate shorts. Not at all. I’ve made plenty. They’re invaluable for learning filmmaking in a relatively risk free environment. There’s a vast amount about making features that you simply can’t learn from doing them but there’s not much to be done about that. And most won’t ever get there. What should they do then, just give up?
My gripe is that shorts are basically worthless. There’s no value attached to them. This is made worse by the instant access, always on, digital culture of online distribution. Sure, go and watch it whenever you want. Admittedly this is better than the situation where, if you missed a film at a festival, you didn’t see at all.
What we need is a rethink about the way we value our work. Shorts are important. They should be treasured. They should not be available at all hours to all people whenever. And they should be valued not by themselves but in the context of a filmmakers entire oeuvre. No-one does this.
So, fuckwit, do something about it then, I hear you say.
Well, I have. I’ve written a proposal for an entirely different way of thinking about our work, the audience that watches it, how they watch it and how valuable it is. It will be published soon on a popular blog.
Till then, consider this – why bother making shorts at all? If a funding scheme will grant you at best £5k, why not crowdfund £10k more and just shoot a feature. Should we even care about shorts?
My feeling is absolutely. We short change ourselves by making them so often and to such a mediocre standard, flooding the web with our crap.