Is it worthy to work on narrative?

On May, 2010, the LA Times released an article speculating if “Short films can be a shortcut to Hollywood success“. Overall it claims that short films are receiving more attention nowadays and opening gates at Los Angeles. It selects a few examples of short films which caught the eye of several producers and closed important deals for the filmmakers. Yet, you shouldn’t expect this kind of talk in this blog, what i actually want to point out is the selection of short films chosen to illustrate the aforementioned movement. Here’s the list:

The article might look dated, but the timing is important here. The deals suggested by the LA Times, if had gained texture, might be possible for checking the outcome by now, two and half years later. Mamá became a feature film. Panic Attack‘s director is finishing the remake of Evil Dead. Tim Smit has been working on videoclips, not much news on the feature film for What’s in the Box?. Alma is an upcoming featured animation for Dreamworks. Patrick Jean doesn’t seem to be doing anything lately. Ricardo de Montreuil left the Sundance world and is attached to the next Zorro movie. Blomkamp, as we’ve seen previously, have directed District 9 and is nowadays finishing Elysium.

If you haven’t seen these shorts until now, you must. It won’t take much of your time and it is really important for the following discussion.


Did you watch them all? Really? Which one is your favorite? I’d like to know but it actually doesn’t matter. These short films made me wonder where is the boundary between a situation-driven and a concept-driven short film. I consider each one of them besides Alma as concept-driven. The animation is the only one with a clear introduction, development and conclusion. Mamá is the one which gets closer to not being so rooted on concept, yet the own declaration of the Muschiettis in the LA Times’ article suggest that they were guided by the concept solely.

“We didn’t even have an outline,” says Barbara Muschietti. “We just wanted to do something scary.”

The main concern here then is: what’s the point on working at narrative if the hollywood executives are glazing at concepts to turn into big screen feature films? Experience has proven that the narrative of a short film doesn’t prepare for the work on a feature film directly, they’re very distinguishable forms of storytelling (we’ll visit this subject a bit further when discussing web series). People seem to be more pleased by sneak peaks of possible projects. The excitement of waiting over the experience of completeness. Great special effects to close the package and create a visual impact instead of a visual continuity of story. Every image is a story, if i deny that i’d have at least three university teachers bashing at my door with shovels, nevertheless we must evaluate the priority in the creation of that image to understand what is being discussed in here.

Here’s my piece of advice: even though these concepts have brought attention to their makers, is not a guaranteed pass to Beverly Hills. A great narrative short film is going to bring buzz, perhaps you won’t adapt it to a feature film, most short films can’t migrate anyway, however a shot as a Hollywood director is not something to refuse. I’m honestly anxious to see what Blaas is going to do with the solid story of Alma. As in concept-driven short films, they’re expandable by nature, because they’re more an environment than anything else. Above everything said, you must respect your idea, don’t distort something good the way it is to achieve a long-distance dream. Baby steps. Most of the short films related here had a pretty similar theme and Hollywood can’t drink from the same wheel for too long (unless it turns into a franchise), thematically speaking, so i believe some of the concepts listed here are, unfortunately, going to find eternity only in the fifteen minutes run length.

There’s a solid chance concept-driven short films will become the pitching for shy people. Let’s hope it keeps moving that way, otherwise our introspective fellows are screwed.

1 Response to “Is it worthy to work on narrative?”

  1. 1 mypenandme November 11, 2012 at 4:00 am

    I enjoyed viewing the films. Interesting article. Alma, Panic Attack and Pixels were my three favourites. Mama made me laugh. The speed at which she moved did it. Watching it on the big screen would probably be more terrifying. Amazing camera work in all. Thanks for sharing.

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