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Short Films: A Stepping Stone to Greatness

A short film is one way of getting yourself recognised

22 Nov 2022

So, how do you kick off a film career? You know you have the next ‘Breathless’ or ‘Taxi Driver’ in your bag, but there is just one problem. Where is the finance coming from? And another, who is going to trust you? You must admit, it’s a bit of a leap in the dark when you’ve not produced a thing.

Make a short film. It’s one way of getting yourself recognised and giving you an instant calling card. Not only does it showcase your talent and ingenuity to prospective financiers; but, download your short onto TikTok, YouTube or Instagram and you’ll have access to a vast audience.  Building up follower numbers will also help authenticate your talent. Show what you can do, rather than talk about it

There are many examples of Directors making Shorts and then going onto bigger projects. The hugely talented Paul Thomas Anderson cleaned out pet cages to finance his short, ‘The Dirk Diggler Story’ in 1988 and then turned it into ‘Boogie Nights’. In 1979 James Dearden was commissioned to make ‘Diversion’ a short for TV. This was then made six Academy Awards later into ‘Fatal Attraction’. Damien Chazelle made an 18 short about a High School band, got it shown at Sundance Film Festival and that led to him making ‘Whiplash.’ There are many more examples where shorts have led to features.

Sam Ampah and I attended the Performance Film and Media Short Film Competition on 10th November. Performance Film and TV Insurance together with lawyers, Reviewed and Cleared are joint venture partners with Alliotts in Triple Exposure; a one-stop shop looking after Production Finance, Legal and Insurance matters.  Triple Exposure enables creatives to get on with what they are good at, without distractions.

The event on 10th November was excellent and we saw some marvellous films.

The winners were:

  • Best Short Documentary: Clandestine
  • Best Short Comedy: Non Negotiable
  • Best Short Horror: Eric
  • Best Short Drama: Who’s Counting
  • Best Short Short: Meat Market

My personal favourite was ‘Who’s Counting’ a harrowing story around miscarriage. Not only was it a well-made and moving dramatic story but its underlying message was something I will never forget.

Lloyd George once wrote a note at the end of a letter saying he was sorry for its length, but he did not have time to write a short one. The author William Boyd, who I greatly admire wrote that the key difference of good prose must always triumph over decoration.

When many films run over three hours it’s a welcome relief to dip into a market where one of the definitions of entry is a running time of under 40 minutes.

And of course, for prospective film-makers it could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Now what film is that from?

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