On Short Films

Presumably coming soon to a theater near you is the latest attempt at comedy from Adam Sandler, an homage to early video games called Pixels. Astute fans of pop culture may recall an episode of Futurama that had a segment where the Earth was invaded by video game creatures – but that’s not the source of this movie’s theme.

You’ll have to go back to 2010, to a short film by Patrick Jean….

This isn’t the first time a short film has been reworked to feature length. “Le Jetée” became 12 Monkeys, Neill Blonkamp turned “Alive in Joburg” into District 9, and Office Space evolved out of a series of cartoons by Mike Judge. These situations may be the only ones where most film buffs ever pay attention to short films. While the Oscars do have a category for short films, the economics of theater management mean that you won’t generally see a short outside of an arthouse cinema, film festival, or perhaps at the beginning of a Pixar or Disney film. It just doesn’t pay to give shorts much time on the big screen.

All is not lost. There is the Internet… Amongst all the video blogs and “unboxing” videos cluttering up YouTube, you can find quite a few decent – and original – short films.

Some channels and users to check out:

AniBOOM is a community of thousands of animators around the world who offer their services to ad agencies, TV networks, and the like. There are quite a few very good short films amongst their finished products.

Future Shorts is another online collective for the distribution of short films, both animated and live action.

You won’t find an official channel for the Ringling College of Art and Design, but a lot of their film and animation students post their final projects on YouTube.

However, France’s ESMA (Ecole Supérieur des Métiers Artistiques) actually does have a channel for its student’s work.

For that matter, not everything gets posted on YouTube. Vimeo is another very good video sharing site. Their “Staff Picks” some of the best work there.

Some of my personal favorites:

In 2004, Belgian film student Jonas Geir-Naert was persuaded to submit an animated short that he was working on to the Cannes Film Festival. Despite his not having finished the sound work in time, “Flat Life” still managed to win the Short Film Jury Prize:

In 2009’s “Logorama”, by a trio of French animators calling themselves H5, every character and object of importance is a corporate logo or trademark of some sort (Language NSFW…):

Also in 2009, Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Álvarez released “Ataque de Pánico!” (Panic Attack!), in which giant alien warbots attack Montevideo. His production budget is given as $300 – After he posted it to YouTube, Álvarez was offered a $30 million deal to develop and produce a full-length feature film version:

Released in 2014, Oscar Sharp’s “The Karman Line” has been winning all sorts of critical acclaim for its metaphoric portrayal of terminal illness:

So, what are your favorites?

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