Short film

Short film
Early American actor William Garwood starred in numerous short films, many of which were only 20 minutes in length

A short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits".[1]

The increasingly rare term short subject means approximately the same thing. An industry term, it carries more of an assumption that the film is shown as part of a presentation along with a feature film. Short is an abbreviation for either term.



Longer films were rare before the 1920s, so length-based categories had little meaning. By the 20s, a ticket purchased a varied program including a feature and several supporting works from categories such as second feature, short comedy, 5-10 minute cartoon, and newsreel.

Short comedies were especially popular, and typically came in a serial or series such as the Our Gang films, or the many outings of Charlie Chaplin's 'Little Tramp' character. Although there was often no set release schedule, these series could be considered somewhat like a modern TV sitcom - lower in status than feature films but nevertheless very popular (comedians such as Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton all 'graduated' from shorts to features).

Animated cartoons came principally as short subjects, as did newsreels. Virtually all major film production companies had units assigned to develop and produce shorts, and many companies, especially in the silent and very early sound era, produced mostly or only short subjects.

In the 1930s, the distribution system changed in many countries owing to the Great Depression. Instead of the cinema owner assembling a program of their own choice, the studios sold a package centered on a main and supporting feature, a cartoon and little else. With the rise of the double feature as a cinema programming format, two-reel shorts went into decline as a commercial category. Hal Roach, for example, moved Laurel and Hardy full-time into feature films after 1935, and halved his popular Our Gang films to one reel. By the 1940s he had moved out of short films altogether (though MGM continued the Our Gang shorts until 1944).

Later shorts include George O'Hanlon's Joe McDoakes films, and the animated work of studios such as Walt Disney Productions, Leon Schlesinger Productions/Warner Bros. Cartoons, Walter Lantz and Fleischer/Famous Studios. By the mid 1950s, with the rise of television, the commercial live-action short was virtually dead, The Three Stooges being the last major series of two-reelers, ending in 1959, and the cartoon short began to fade beginning in the early 70s due to rising inflation, with The Pink Panther being the last regular theatrical cartoon short series, ending in 1980, despite the fact it began in 1964, when most cartoon studios were closing down or turning to television. Short film had become a medium for student, independent and specialty work.

Modern Era

A few animated shorts continue within mainstream commercial distribution. For instance, Pixar has screened a short along each of its feature films during its initial theatrical run since 1995 (producing shorts permanently since 2001).[2] Since Disney acquired Pixar in 2005, Disney has also produced animated shorts since 2007 with the Goofy short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater.

Dreamworks Animation often produces a short sequel to include in the special edition video releases of major features, and are typically of a sufficient length to be broadcast as a television special. Warner Brothers often includes old animated shorts from its considerable library, connected only thematically, on the DVD releases of classic WB films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures organize an annual release of Academy Award nominated short films in theatres across the US, UK, Canada and Mexico throughout February/March.

Shorts are occasionally broadcast as filler when a feature film or other work doesn't fit the standard broadcast schedule. ShortsTV was the first television channel dedicated to short films.

However, short films generally rely on festival exhibition to reach an audience. Such films can also be distributed via the Internet. Certain websites which encourage the submission of user-created short films, such as YouTube and Vimeo[3] have attracted large communities of artists and viewers. Sites like FILMSshort and the BBC Film Network focus on showcasing curated shorts.

Short films are a typical first stage for new filmmakers. However, professional actors and crews still choose to create short films as alternative form of expression. Short film making is growing in popularity as equipment becomes cheaper and more amateurs are making films. "Prosumer" or semi-professional cameras now cost under USD$3,000, and free or low-cost software is widely available that is capable of video editing, post-production work and DVD authoring.

Short Shorts

Short short films are sometimes considered as a category of their own. The International Festival of Very Shorts is a festival based in Paris which shows only films less than three minutes long. Filminute, the international one-minute film festival, has presented and promoted a collection of one-minute films across multiple media since September 2006.

See also


External links

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