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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 03:14 PM   #1
Air China Pilot
 
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Shorts: calling cards, mini-features, dark films?

This Globe and Mail article begins as a discussion about the various celebrities who are trying their hands at making short films. I found the interesting part of the article is in the discussion about their different motivations behind making shorts. Generally, 1) calling cards 2) because they want to make a feature later 3) for the sake of making a short medium story. The most provocative part is where Sarrah Polley (who I didn't know made her own short films) says: "You can smell the ones that are calling cards," she adds, "a mile away."

http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/...Entertainment/

I will add a fourth motivation: 4) experimentation

I think it calls into question our own motivations for making short subjects. I've frequently come across concepts that seem to be "like this Hollywood film but smaller". These are the ones that seem to stink of what Polley is smelling.

To me, shorts can be compelling and don't have to be quirky or dark wanks. They can be commercial too. I was a big fan of "The Twilight Zone". I'm not old enough that I saw them when they first came out, but on rainy weekends, the original TZ and the Outer Limits episodes were on rerun TV. I loved them then and I love them now. The same with "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". Those are excellent models for shorts that tackled popular genres which were aimed at large audiences. I'd love to hear about other examples.

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Old June 3rd, 2003, 05:10 PM   #2
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There is very little "commecial" call for shorts. And the ones that are picked up commercially, usually have commercial production values... (That is, their budget is basically the same per minute of screen time as a feature film)

As someone who writes, produces and has won awards for shorts, I think the three reasons cited in the article are dead on. I also think it can be any combination of those three reasons simultaneously.

Funny you should mention the TZ, Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock... I would add "Night Gallery" to that list... also hosted by Rod Serling.

I am currently in Pre Production on a short to be shot here in Houston. When it is completed, we will shoot a second, and a third... Each short will ultimately be capable of standing alone. But together, they will comprise a feature.

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 05:25 PM   #3
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When I say 'commercial' I really mean aimed at a general audience, not necessarily that there exists a proper avenue for distribution. I guess I'd prefer not to think about that right now :)

"Night Gallery" was awesome, agreed. Some people should note that Steven Spielberg got his start directing one of the episodes in the film, I believe it was the one with Joan Crawford as the woman who temporarily regains her sight.

I really like your idea about slowly building a feature based upon separate elements that are stand alone. I think this especially makes sense given that you often have access to the same locations and the same stars, why not make them all integrate in the bigger scheme?

You could certainly construct a film like "Pulp Fiction" or "City of God" using this method with proper planning.
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