Film Shorts roundtable: ‘Almost Home,’ ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,’ ‘The Elephant Whisperers,’ ‘The Flagmakers’

What do you enjoy the most about the art of short films? How do you decide if a story should be a short film or feature length? How have streaming platforms impacted short films? What were the most difficult scenes to cut in order to keep your film under 40 minutes?

These were some of the secrets revealed by four of today’s top filmmakers when they joined Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with Film Shorts Oscar contenders: Nils Keller (“Almost Home”), Peter Baynton (“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”), Doug Blush (“The Elephant Whisperers”) and Sharon Liese (“The Flagmakers”). Watch our lively group discussion above and click on each name to view their solo chat.

“Coming from a student background, it’s just more common to do shorts,” says Keller. “You don’t have the money or you don’t get to choose. It was more natural to do a short. What I really love about shorts is that this is a very unique format where you don’t have to follow the hero’s journey, but you can just think about the thing you want to tell and have a slice of life. You can approach it from different angles and can be very free if you want to.”

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Blush reveals, “It’s a huge question for us documentary filmmakers because we tend to have enough footage, even with a short, to make a feature. Your ratio of shooting is massive. You might have 300 hours. Of that, you could easily construct a physical length of a feature. I love shorts. I try to see as many shorts as I can. By form, they have to tell a story really coherently. They have to get down to what the story’s about. A great short is like reading a great short story. It’s a punch and then you really felt something. They all tell a great, focused story. Sometimes that can help the message of the film.”

While discussing his partnership with Apple TV+, Baynton says, “I feel hugely fortunate. It’s a great honor. In a nutshell it means, immediately, our film has the potential to be viewed by anybody in the whole wide world. It’s as simple as that. It’s a dream come true to be partnered up with someone who can reach everyone. That’s always the hope with one’s film. It’s a great privilege.”

Liese adds, “There’s so much of a greater appetite for shorts now, now that the streamers have been putting them out there. It’s not just something you go and see at a film festival. And when you tell someone, ‘You can watch this, it’s only 35 minutes,’ that’s really helped with exposure. I had a film once, four years ago, that was on CNN. In the first year it got 16 million views. It was amazing! It would have been lost in some film festival yeas ago.”

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UPLOADED Jan 12, 2023 3:31 pm