A short film is different from feature films as they are considered to have a screen time of forty minutes or less which includes the credits. Like any other film, it has a storyline with a beginning, middle and conclusion. Short films are usually screened at international, national and local film festivals which are largely possible within the industry, fans, and followers.
A short film is usually shot by independent filmmakers with no budget at all or little budget. The films are, at times, are done as a non-profit film. Funding is usually done through film grants, personal funds, sponsors or through non-profit organizations. Filmmakers will use short films to expose their experience and talents to large entertainment companies, film studios or private investors.
History of Short Films
In the early days of films, shorter and longer films coexisted and were similarly popular however the comedy shot film was produced in bigger numbers compared to the lengthy films. In the 1920’s tickets sales included a variety of programs such as a short comedy, 10-minute cartoons, a travelogue, and a newsreel.
Short comedies were very popular and came in a series form such as Charlie Chaplin or Our Gang movies, similar to modern day sitcoms. There was no set release schedule which was a lower status than the feature films but extremely popular nonetheless. Comedy films such as Laurel and hardy, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin all graduated from short films to features.
Animated Short Films
Animated cartoons started as short subjects. Almost all the major production companies had teams assigned to create and produce shorts. During the silent and early sound era, many companies produce only short subjects.
Package deals in Cinemas
The system changed in many countries around the time of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Cinemas would sell a program assembled by the studios and sold as a package. The packages were centered on the supporting and main features with a cartoon but little else. The interest in the double feature meant that the two-reel shorts began to decline as the commercial category. This is when Hal Roach, in 1935, moved Laurel and Hardy into feature films full time and halved the popular Our Gang short films into one reel. In the 1940’s he then moved out of the short film circuit altogether.
Short Films after the 1950’s
Later the shorts included George O’Hanlon’s, Joe McDoakes movies, as well as the animated works of studies like Walt Disney, Warner Bros. Cartoons/Leon Schlesinger productions. With television on the rise in the 1950’s the short film was virtually dead and the Three Stooges was the last series of the 2-reeler. Short films then become the medium for specialty, students, and independent work.
The cartoon shorts enjoyed a longer lifespan as the implementation of the limited animation techniques which cost a lot less. Warner Bros. shut down permanently in 1969 after its fertile period in its golden era. The famous Pink Panther cartoon was the theatrical short series that began in 1964 and ended in 1980. Animated shorts then shifted television.