BIFF 2009, Day 5: Short Films (Mostly) Suck

Bermuda Short -- haha, get it?

Such a bold statement is tantamount to heresy from this Film School Graduate, but hear me out…

I remember hearing or reading somewhere that if you want to make a feature, why waste time and resources on a short film that could be better spent on your ultimate goal?

Indeed, of the eight films that made up this year’s Bermuda Shorts Program two were actually good (with Rúnar Rúnarsson’s 2 Birds by far the best), one wanted desperately to be an action film (and failed miserably) and the rest were built upon a single revelation so arbitrary that it would make M. Night Shyamalan wince.

It also didn’t help that these films were pitted against each other in the same screening, encouraging the audience to pick favourites and boo the rest. And for the first time since I started attending the festival, there weren’t any local entries.

Could the 15-20 minute short film be a dying art form?






2 responses to “BIFF 2009, Day 5: Short Films (Mostly) Suck”

  1. Ed Miller Avatar
    Ed Miller


    Web video has probably helped hurt the 15-20 minute film more than anything. I suspect there are probably more shorts being made now than ever before, but that darned web is driving the content. Comedy is king (can’t recall any viral dramas off the top of my head but I can come up with quite a few comedies), so the other genres get ignored. The shorter the project, the better for the web, and I don’t think anyone ventures past the 5-minute mark very often.

    The typical festival submission means an entry fee, a projection copy, a press kit and other materials, plus you have to get past the gatekeepers. The web, on the other hand, only requires internet access and webspace to store it.

    I wonder how many film school grads these days are making 15-20 minute shorts (with an eye to making features) versus grads who are putting together a reel based on web shorts with the hope of going viral and getting work that way?


  2. Sabaa Avatar

    Yep. Short films, for the most part, do suck. Heretical of me to say because I am co-founder of Filminute, the international one-minute film festival.

    We certainly found a way around short films that suck. After audiences screened about 3 million minutes worth of our short films collection last year, I think we’ve confirmed one way around the problem. To create a one-minute film is a challenge. We did gather submissions from 60 countries and from a wide pool of creative people, not just filmmakers. So, I can say that creative people like to make them.

    The audience dives into them because one-minute films are like candy. Sophisticated candy, funny candy, hard hitting candy, but arguably all high quality, entertaining, and compelling candy.

    One way Filminute likes to think about it is that a one-minute film levels the playing field. Short commitment combined with high expectation of quality (like a television commercial), and you end up with are MUCH more impressive films.

    Yep, I hate short films. But thankfully there will ALWAYS be a handful of exceptions to the rule.

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