“Shorts for some time have been the redheaded stepchild and don’t deserve to be. And I think audiences have proved that over the last five years, especially with documentaries, that they’re willing to tune in for nonfiction content in a million different forms,” says director Ryan White. He joined us for our short-film directors panel along with his fellow documentarians Alexandria Jackson (“Sophie and the Baron”) and Christine Turner (“Lynching Postcards”), as well as animated short filmmakers Reza Riahi (“The Musician”) and Mikey Please (“Robin Robin”). All five of them have been shortlisted by the Oscars this year.
Watch our group roundtable discussion above. Click on each name above to watch that person’s individual interview.
Turner sees short films as a way to reach audiences for whom it’s “easier to find 15 minutes, for example, in one’s day-to-day routine than it might be two hours.” The format also “offers the opportunity to have experiments. We’re seeing many different styles and approaches to the short documentary.” For Jackson, “the content in the story dictates the length and how much time you really need to say what you need to say … It’s good to see what the story needs.”
“There are so many doors that open to you,” adds Riahi about watching short films, especially collections of multiple short films that are sometimes programmed together in movie theaters. It opens doors for filmmakers too since shorts tend to take less time and money to produce. And given their economy of length, “every minute counts, every second counts to develop the character, to bring the emotion that you want.” Please agrees that the limited running time of short films can bolster your creativity: “You have to make sure that absolutely every little frame you’re using is put to its best use … That lack of room for indulgence I think is a really strong creative ingredient in producing something good.”
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