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Old March 27th, 2006, 11:52 AM   #1
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Short film lengths

I have read elsewhere that a short film should be: either less than 10 mins or 25 mins... any other running time would throw out the scheduling at festivals and will therefore have less of a chance at being screened. Is this true and if so are these lengths the correct ones - or is this a load of nonsense?

I'm beginning work on a short and am wondering what running time I should aim for.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 12:13 PM   #2
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Different festivals have different definitions, but 30 minutes is pushing it by anyone's standards.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 12:28 PM   #3
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By which you are saying that the info in the original post is nonsense... ie that a film MUST be must be either: <10, 26ish (Academy length) or 90+.

I remember reading that some guy said his film couldn't get into any festivals because it was 19 mins. Is that just sour grapes or does the above actually have some grounding?
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Old March 27th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #4
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I have heard repeatedly that shorter is always better, as far as your chances of getting into a festival. It's too bad, as I feel 30 minutes is the ideal length in terms of plot development and story.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 01:55 PM   #5
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The requirements vary widely. Each festival has a different definition of "short." For instance, to Cannes shorts are under 15 minutes, features over 60, with no room for films in between. Some are under/over 60 minutes as the split for shorts/features. Some are specific to just 3 minutes, 5 minutes, etc.

In the end, there is a fest for nearly every film, if you can find the right one.

My advice is that shorter is almost always better. Having seen (and produced) lots of local shorts, the shorter versions are almost always better, and longer version ("Director's Cuts," etc.) tend to drag. It's tough to have lots of material and have it all be spot on. Almost everything could use some "tightening up."

Keep the opening titles to a couple seconds (or jump right into the action), and keep the end credits as fast as possible (individual title screens with lots of names are better to me than a slow crawler). There's nothing worse than a self-important short film.

If I were to define a rule of thumb it would be that the film should be as short as possible while conveying the essential story elements. That goes for all films, short or not.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 02:13 PM   #6
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I definitely agree about the credits. If it ain't a feature nobody wants to sit though an entire song. I don't know if they've changed it, but years ago I believe that Sundance used to consider a short at under 40 minutes.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 07:20 AM   #7
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RE: the credit roll. OF course, for every rule there is an exception. Remember "Bambi Meets Godzilla"?
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Old March 30th, 2006, 10:40 AM   #8
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