It’s been over a decade since YouTube launched its video sharing service. While it is true that most of us, myself included, tend to use YouTube primarily to find videos of crazy cats and hilarious fails, sites like YouTube and Vimeo have also become platforms where indie filmmakers have been able to share their short films broader audiences than ever before. But more than just a great means to reach a global audience with your latest project, the advent of online video sharing has changed the very nature of short films, how they’re made, how they’re structured, and how they’re seen. Understanding these changes has been a particular passion of mine over the last several years of making short films with Stories by the River.
For one thing, short films have gotten dramatically shorter in recent years. New filmmakers are finding increasingly creative ways to tell complex stories in a very short time frame. A lot of what is happening with short films today involves a move away from making short films that have what I call a “mini feature” structure that sticks closely to the traditional three act structure and usually takes between 20 to 30 minutes to play out. But the short films really making a splash online these days are often between 5 and 10 minutes. Some are even shorter still. In many ways, modern short films have dumped all the excess baggage of drawn out opening credits, mood setting, and lengthy exposition. Within seconds, the central conflict of the film is introduced. Often times, the best short films today are the ones offering up just glimpse of a moment that is sure to change the characters. Here’s a quick video I made explaining how new filmmakers can focus their short film script in a similar fashion.
Based on my experiences making and distributing short films, as well as battling for attention in the film festival circuit (which has been greatly altered by online media as well), I wrote the book, Short Films 2.0: Getting Noticed in the YouTube Age. The book is out now on Kindle and will come out on June 7 in trade paperback. In Short Films 2.0 I discuss how short films have changed as a result of YouTube and similar sites as well as how the most effective short films today embrace a very a different core philosophy than short films of decades past. I also explain why understanding these changes matters to filmmakers, and even draw of philosophy and neuroscience to help filmmakers think about how their short films are being seen and experienced by online audiences. I provide lots of practical examples from short films you can watch and even bonus materials like short film scripts and lists of helpful books, websites, apps, and more.
You can grab your copy of Short Films 2.0 by going to: www.amazon.com/dp/B01ESCNCP0