Short films are a wonderful sub-medium of movies, the short story of the film world. They’re great as calling cards to garner attention, but also an artform in their own right. Making them is pretty much an initial goal of most journeyman filmmakers. How to go about it? Well this guide will certainly help, in the initial stages as well as seeking that elusive funding!
Similar to SoulMatrix, Cinco de Mayo, written by Simon Uttley, was recommended to me by a fellow writer, clearly the best way to find new films to watch. Cinco de Mayo was one of the first UK crowdfunded movies, just getting in ahead of Nick Love’s Outlaw, and managing to gather buzz ahead of the social media revolution. You can watch the result on Amazon.
Between the excellent script, director Giles Greenwood, wonderful cinematography and great cast, the end result is a very professional little film. It starts with a simple narration: ‘I promise this is not what it looks like’. And yet despite that, the film surprises all the way through, continually twisting expectations. It starts powerfully and draws you in immediately; and even when we think we know where it’s going to go, there are still more surprises to come.
(I’m purposefully not revealing the turns of this one, as I feel it really deserves experiencing)
In my view, this is a perfect example of a ‘calling card film’, showcasing talent and providing a career launch.
When I recently asked on Twitter for recommendations of short films, I was expecting to basically be given a litany of recent BAFTA and Oscar nominees. What I was pleasantly surprised by was how many of my fellow writers had made short films they were keen for people to see.
Writer/director James Griffiths won the BAFTA for Best British Short Film for Room 8, so that was next in line for a viewing. Watch it on YouTube below:
Room 8, a story about a prisoner, curiosity and a box of secrets was surprising. At first its slow pace had me a bit bored, and I was watching time tick away quickly. However, when reveal piled upon reveal, this five and half minute film engrossed. By the end, the atmosphere, the implications and the wider world it hints at have drawn you in effectively.
I’ve always believed a short film needs to be economical with its time, it needs to start late and finish early, even more so than a scene from in a feature film. Room 8 does that very well indeed. However, so far, of the shorts reviewed here, my favourite is still The Voorman Problem.
Short films have great difficulty entering the awareness of the public. I learnt of The Voorman Problem from a segment on BBC Breakfast this morning, and it was only covered because not only was it Oscar-nominated, it also stars Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander.
If you wish to remain free of spoilers, let me just say, you should absolutely pay money to download and watch it, it is excellent. It’ll cost you less than the price of a cup of coffee. Come back when you’re done.