A Short Rant on Short Films (also: film v. theatre)

A very mild (short) rant on short films.

Maybe it’s just me, but short films don’t always seem to tell a story.

If you read my comment to JJG from a couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I’m coming from a theatre background.  Short plays (particularly ten-minute plays) are very much en vogue right now.   One thing that you notice about short plays is that the good ones have the same stuff as a good full-length play:  Well-drawn characters, conflict, narrative question, theatricality – but on a smaller, quicker, scale.

It’s sort of like geometry or trigonometry class, when you had to draw the same shape but smaller and to scale – everything has to be there, just on a smaller scale.

I’d say that of the short films I’ve been watching (and granted, I’m new to this, so I’m sure I haven’t seen all that many) about 50 – 60% DO NOT seem to tell a story.  They almost all have a beginning, sometimes a middle, or a part of a middle, and not so much of an end.  Or sometimes, they’re what my middle school English teacher used to call “A slice of life.”   They show a day (or a few hours, or a few minutes) in a character’s life.  Sometimes something happens, sometimes nothing happens.  It’s about the audience member living the character’s usual life for a short while.

I don’t know about you, but I find this ultimately unsatisfying, most of the time.

I was talking to one of my bosses (a film buff who has probably seen more films than I ever will even if I were to watch a film a day for the rest of my life) the other day, and mentioned this to her.  Her theory is that some writer/producers/directors are so used to making funding teasers that the art of the short film, the ability to tell a full story on a smaller scale, has gone out the window.  To quote her, “People are just f___ing lazy.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2008 at 2:44 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “A Short Rant on Short Films (also: film v. theatre)”

  1. Nathaniel Norton Says:

    Hey, I completely agree. I’ve never understood why short films are so boring to watch. You’d think they’d be a great tight story. Thanks for the insight.

  2. mk_writer Says:

    Actually, I think there are some good short films out there – just not always easy to find.
    I think it was 2006 that yielded some good short films – I Netflixed the Oscar-nominated short films, and at least 3 out of 5 were memorable, good stories (I think it’s the year that West Bank Story (which, frankly, I found a bit over the top silly, but fun) won).
    The thing that surprises me about compilations of shorts made by famous directors, is how a famous director is no guarantee of a good short. Which may also just go to show you that good directors are not always great writers.

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