In an era which is saturated by visual media, there has been a reduction in the attention span of viewers of cinema. These are the times of listicles and Gifs, and the audience expects to consume more information in shorter periods of time. Thus, there is an increased demand for short films and the art of making one is experiencing an evolution. The short film-makers lifestyle is considerably impacted by the content that they have to produce, since they have to condense a lot of film into a limited period of time. This not only needs an artistic eye, but also an organizational one that can effectively sift through information.
There are several forms that a short film can have, whether it’s a documentary, a fictional story or an abstract piece with visual effects. The form chosen by the short film maker affects his lifestyle. For the documentarian, it is key for the camera to not be imposing during the shoots. Thus the film-maker has to learn the means by which the camera can be as invisible so that the subject can be caught in its closest essence. This means that the film maker needs to constantly be shooting and being present at various moments while engaging with the subject. After all the footage is collected, the difficulty of sifting through the material requires hours of effort. The work is composed of two parts that requires equal weightage, and therefore when one studies short documentaries, it’s important to study not only the content but also the selection of it. A popular YouTube channel Seeker Stories provides some excellent examples of documentary short films. These films vary in topic from Varanasi “Death Photographers” to a couple living out of a bus in Chicago. It is interesting to note the balance between interviews and shots of the subject. The documentary short film maker also has to learn to communicate effectively with the subjects, and make them comfortable in front of the camera, and this is a very important skill set.
In fiction films, on the other hand, there is a requirement of creativity in terms of plot and narrative. The film (within its limited time frame) has to introduce the characters, give a sense of the setting and then move on to providing an entire story with a conclusion that can satisfy the viewers. This makes the fiction short film maker’s lifestyle different, since the focus requires a lot of time spent on actually creating a story prior to the film’s shooting and then looking into the casting, set design etc. However, this also gives the film-maker a lot of creative freedom. The film maker’s lifestyle will include travel and exploration through a completely different mind-set, and he or she will also engage with a variety of creative practitioners such as costume designers, actors, sound engineers etc. who can all contribute to an enhancing of the film. Horror films are a very popular form of fictional short films, and the restricted time span actually aids in adding to the suspense and the sudden shocks. The thriller ‘Ahalya’, directed by Sujoy Ghosh and starring Radhika Apte got considerable recognition recently for its eerie rendition of a mythological story. It is an example of how a short film maker can create an aura of suspense and fear and conclude it in a restricted period of time, making it complete within itself.
Within art cinema, short films completely break away from traditional norms and expectations, and thus the short film makers in this genre need to think beyond conventional boundaries. They also need to require a different kind of editing skill-set that emphasizes on the visual impact on the viewers and the various emotions and thoughts evoked by them. A short film that revolves around the work of surrealist artist Salvador Dali was produced by Walt Disney. It is interesting to see the difference with which the producer and artist approached it, while Dali called it “a magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time,” Disney stated that it was “a simple story about a young girl in search of true love.” Destino is a complex and beautiful whirlwind of paint and film that provides insight into the artistic potential of the short film.
The short-film maker’s lifestyle is impacted by his or her work, and takes shape according to the demands of the film’s form. The work and the lifestyle are as intertwined as the time frame of the short film and the content that is to be conveyed. A well made short film can make a rainy winter’s day feel bright or a sunny day seem eerie, just in a few brief minutes of inspired creation.
Samira Bose (Content Intern Applicant)