I think, that I have never loved short films. Of course, I had several favourite ones, but in general – no. Almost never… Most likely that was due to the fact that in Russia there is no such form of art. Shorts in Russia have always been associated only with the students’ work. Not yet mature enough for a big film? Shoot a small one. That is like the process of sketches at the acting course, kind of a rehearsal before the big life. That’s what short films meant for me for a long time.
Throughout all my creative and cinematic life in Russia I have worked on feature films and TV-series. Only one short film (and even that was 30’) was on my experience as a member of a crew. That’s why it was unreally difficult for me to understand – how can you come up with something and put it just in two minutes. I had no idea what to write, no any idea. It was almost two years ago when I have started my new journey to the UK film industry from the Masters course at Screen Academy Scotland. My journey began from the task to write a two minute film.
I thought out and found some way to understand shorts – I started to watch. I have watched everything, I could find. Discs from the University Library, movies on YouTube. Dozens of them. There were terrible films, cute, but quickly forgotten, and some which I wanted to revise and to remember and to share with friends. Gradually I began to limit myself and continued watching not just movies found online by the tag “short film”, but selectively – “award-winning short film”. Probably, after some thirty watched films, I slowly began to understand what is expected from me. And the ideas slowly but surely began to find their way into my head and my heart.
Eventually, I understood what a short film is after I became a volunteer at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, which was held in the beautiful city where I had moved. For a very simple volunteer help, I’ve got an opportunity to watch more than 20 short films of all genres submitted to the festival. Not all the films I liked, and only two or three were really exciting, but I have reached my goal – I understood what do I want to write about.
The most emotional short films I saw were in two collections of short films from famous directors – “All the Invisible Children” and “11’09”01 – September 11”. Both collections are affecting very painful issues (children struggling all around the world and people dying from terrorism). It seems to me that such short films, which are able to turn the soul inside out, to make the audience cry, and even change something in person’s life – that is the top of the writer’s and the director’s mastery in the field of short films. This is something that I personally would like to strive for in my future writing.
Another great example of such short film with a message is “One Hundredth of a Second”. Probably it is the most heartbreaking short film I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And every time I watch it again, I just cry. While watching this film it is almost impossible to stop being the part of the audience and start being the filmmaker.
After watching more than 200 short films during my studies, I can say that not all the directors for various reasons think about the message of their films. I found it strange because I am the fan of “messages”. However, I enjoyed watching some shorts for other reasons: exciting scripts or beautiful camera work, unusual concepts or unpredictable twists.
I am still into the journey of exploring “short film” for myself. Having written more than 10 short screenplays, being a producer of 2 short films and director of 1 short film – I can say for sure that it is a very interesting direction to express yourself. Even being on my way to become a produced screenwriter for festures I will hopefully never abandon expressing myself in this incredibly valuable for any filmmaker format.
Do you have any short films that you love most of all? Have you made any short films by yourself? Feel free to post the links here in comments.
Have a great morning/day/evening/night wherever you are!