Why Aren’t Short Films More Popular?
Wireless Theatre is an audio company. We live and breathe audio and love making it. There will always be a space in the world for audio entertainment, but sometimes you just want to watch something – and when you do, there is a whole world of choice. An abundance of new films at the touch of a button, TV dramas, soaps, documentaries, serials, porn, game shows, cooking shows, chat shows, culture shows, education shows and of course, the dreaded reality TV shows – you can literally get as many of these as you want in the blink of an eye, whole channels devoted to just one genre of visual entertainment. Yet for some reason, the mainstream just don’t seem to be that into short films – people are making them, but large audiences just don’t seem interested in them.
Perhaps people simply don’t want to watch stuff that is so short – but then why, for many years, were entire channels devoted to music videos – which are, in essence, short films aren’t they? Take for example, AEROSMITH – their videos are often set out like short films – telling stories with a beginning, middle and end:
These channels were hugely popular with all ages – I remember going round to friends houses sometimes just for us all to sit transfixed by THE BOX or MTV.
When films first started being made they were short. Short and silent, but hugely popular.
Thinking it through, I assume that it is down to a few reasons.
1) There doesn’t seem to be a mainstream TV channel devoted to short films. The Pixar short films that are played at the start of their features are seemingly well recieved – shoudln’t short films be shown at the start of every feature… instead of endless adverts about fast food, perfume or the actual cinema you’re already sitting in?
2) They cost a lot to make, but don’t make much back – therefore there isn’t the variety there should be. For a long time that may have been true. Little funding available for short films, and equimnet, time and skills are expensive. However, this is changing, for sure. A time will come soon where a decent film can be made on a mobile phone. People can make GOODquality films for SMALL budgets. Recently, we entered the 48 Hour Sci Fi Film Challenge (with over 300 others!) and if you have a look at the entries, the level of production quality is incredible: http://www.sci-fi-london.com/48-hour-film-challenge – these are generally all low budget films, made in 48 hours!
3) They are too “wanky?” (bear with me!). I recently went to see a series of short films in a London cinema, the auditorium was only half full and it was clear that most of those people were family and friends. I took along two friends, who are not involved the enterainment industry AT ALL, but they do enjoy the cinema, theatre and TV. After watching seven beautifully made short films, we naturally chatted about them. I questioned my friends as to whether they would come and watch short films again out of choice and neither were overly enthused by the idea. “Well, apart from not knowing where they’re on – they can be a bit wanky can’t they?” which was met with a hoot of agreement from my other friend. This amused me – I didn’t agree with them, but I was interested in where this feeling comes from. We discussed it for a while and came to the conclusion that perhaps, if they are “wanky”, it’s because they are often experimental; a toe in the water of film making for directors who dream to make features? An editor who is using it as a showcase for some new tricks? A final film for a student? A showcase for an actor?
This may be so, but if you take a visit to Vimeo or You Tube and look around there are some stunning, non ‘wanky’ films out there that have depressingly view hits (in comparison to the singing cats, drunk celebrities or children being weird).
Perhaps famous actors should start lending their performance skills to short films to make them more commercially appealing? Surely the internet is the perfect place for this?
A quick search online brings up: www.filmsshort.com – a website showcasing shorts, and there are some great ones on there, but the website doesn’t look like it has huge backing or funding and is apparently run by just one man. There is also the lovely blog: lunchbreakshorts.wordpress.com uplaoding and blogging about short films she enjoys – run by Peggy Nuttal. I wonder if these sites have a lot of visitors? I wonder if short films will ever become popular enough that you don’t have to be searching for them to find them? I certainly hope so.
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