What is a Short Film? | Sunday Observer

What is a Short Film?

10 January, 2021

Cinema is one of the few mediums which have managed to successfully depict the true reality of society in general and our lives in particular. As like other art forms, it depicts the multiple realties that one is faced with. It explores one of the most discarded yet eternal truths which every individual experiences and that is isolation. Each individual longs for social ties despite belonging to organised societies; it is what each one of us is ultimately reduced to.

A Short film is a technical description originally coined in the Indian film industry and used in the North American film industry in the early period of cinema. The description is now used almost interchangeably with short subject.

Although the North American definition generally refers to films between 20 and 40 minutes, the definition refers to much shorter films in Europe ,Latin America and Australasia. In New Zealand, for instance, the description can be used to describe any film that has duration longer than one minute and shorter than 15 minutes. The North American definition also tends to focus much more on character whereas the European and Australasian forms tend to depend much more on visual drama and plot twists. In this way, the North American form can be understood to be a derivation of the feature film form, usually acting as a platform for aspirant Hollywood directors. Elsewhere, short films tend to work as showcases for cinematographers and commercial directors. (Short Film)

Short film

A short film manages to tell the same tale as a full length feature film, but in a shorter duration of time. It is characterised by the director’s reflection of the existing social, political and economic conditions. A short film narrative is one which can easily be created by people from all walks of life, it has universal applicability. It enables directors functioning on a small budget to tell their stories to the world. The talent in creating a short film lies in communicating the message of the film to the audience in a very limited period of time. The transitions in a short film are of critical importance. What I find intriguing is how any person imbibes from their existing social conditions and produce work which is effectively communicable to most individuals.

Another reason to dwell into this topic of research is that many youngsters and amateurs start by making short films and use it as a path to grow. As Daniel Wiernicki states, ‘Short films are often popular as first steps into the film industry among young filmmakers. This is because they are cheaper and easier to make, and also their length makes shorts more likely to be watched by financial backers and others who want some demonstration of a filmmaker’s ability. Many things can be achieved by creating a short film so are an ideal opportunity to get recognised and get into the industry.’ (Wiernicki)

Palme d’Or

Through this dissertation, I aim to explore the world of short films in the context of movies which have won the Cannes Short Film Palme d’Or (French:Palme d’Or du court métrage), which is the highest prize given to a short film at the Cannes Film Festival. These short films are a representation of different cultures, ideologies, people, religion, economic background, and political thoughts and history from across the world that come together on one platform and showcase their art.

“The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn’t.”

– Jean- Luc Godard History of short films

‘Short subject’ a name initially given to Short Films came into existence in the 1910s when the majority of the feature movies were being made into loner run-time editions. The name ‘short subject’ is an American film industry term, which was assigned to any film within 20 minutes long or running two reels. Short subject films could be comedy, animated, or live action. One of the best known users of short subject was Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin.

In the 1930s, came the slowdown of the short subjects, basically produced by Warner Bros and Famous studios that owned their own theatres to showcase the films. By 1995s, the rise of television led to the strangulation of the live action- short and at the same time the fall cartoon short. Since the 1960s, majority of the directors of short films have been special studio projects or independent film makers.

Since the 1980s, the short film term was being used for short subject. Short film as a term describes the non- commercial film that is much shorter in time length than a feature film/ an analogy that can be drawn for short film to a feature film is that of a novella and a novel.

The short filmmakers heavily depend on the short film festivals and art exhibitions to showcase their short films. At the same time, these film makers have more freedom to take up more difficult topics than normal feature films as the risks are lower. Short film making is now a growing as more and more amateurs, students, common man, and enthusiasts are taking this up because of the affordability of the technology to make such films. At the same time one can showcase his work to the world by uploading it on web portals and sharing it with others. It is an area where people are turning to as a hobby, as an art, to achieve their form expressions.