But… What’s a short film?

Obviously, the same rule applies to when you set the logical difference between a person with dwarfism and a person without it. Well, actually, this goes much beyond a matter of length when discussing the differences between short films and their bigger brother (not older, since, obviously, short films are the first instance of cinema)

If you look for the best-voted short films in IMDB you’ll find some REALLY great films: Sherlock Jr. (45 min); La Jetée (28 min); Un Chien Andalou (16 min); Partie de Campagne (40 min); Meshes of the Afternoon (14 min); Zero de Conduite (41 min); Nuit et Brouillard (32 min); Scorpio Rising (28 min) etc. See that i kept the runtime for each example? Can we have a 45 minutes short film nowadays? Honestly, i don’t think so. From that list only Un Chien Andalou and Meshes of the Afternoon fit in the 15-minute limit (ok, mercy for Buñuel in this one), yet, both are experimental projects, quite absent of a logical narrative, which is our goal here in case you forgot. Concluding, IMDB gave us nothing at surface.

In my personal opinion a short film should have AT MOST 15 minutes, but if you want to know my preference it would be 5 minutes. FIVE? What can be told in five minutes? The examples shall come.

The main way of exhibition for short films is the internet, more specifically youtube and vimeo. Now tell me, what holds you longer than 5 minutes in a youtube video? FinalCut Pro tutorials? Certainly not a videoblog. In those places we’re expecting short experiences.

You go to the mall, buy a movie ticket, enter in the theater room, sit, watch the trailers, the movie begins. You possibly went to the bathroom BEFORE because you did this entire ritual expecting to sit still for 90 minutes at least, so if not much happens in the first 5 minutes, we forgive the movie. In a short film, if you don’t deliver something in the first 30 seconds, the spectator will just close the video or click in a featured suggestion beside, because the DEAL you’ve made with your spectator is a short-term one and it demands a quick response from your side.

The reason why i indicate the 5-minutes edge is because of our exhibition devices. When Sherlock Jr. or Partie de Campagne were released, 40 minutes was a quite common runtime for movies, the effort was to sell a Napoléon or longer length movies. Nowadays we just can’t enjoy that luxury anymore.

This post intends to stand basic differences between short and long films, which will consequently lead to the divergence of their narrative resources. To emphasize how quickly the PROBLEM that a short film story will deal in its length should be exposed, i’ll give two examples:

Lucky, by Nash Edgerton

The Black Hole, by Phil and Olly

Until next time.


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