All posts by ginaagnewthriller

Short Film Examples and Analysis

1. The first short film I analysed is from a website called http://www.shortoftheweek.com and was called ‘A Man Who Delivers.’ It is based upon a true story about the life of a cocaine dealer in East London. We are not aware of his name so the clients in the text messages refer to him as ‘Mr’. Throughout the piece, we don’t actually see the face of the character, let alone any of the other characters involved. All that is shown is the text messages between the dealer and his clients, and occasionally his girlfriend questioning his whereabouts. The voice over presents the dealer as a fairly normal man, who only sells cocaine to ‘pay the bills, feed the kids’. He is portrayed as a protagonist through his casual tone and in the way that he doesn’t seem like a typical drug dealer; he receives messages from his girlfriend asking what time he will arrive at their children’s football game.

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http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2013/06/20/a-man-who-delivers/

Within the film, all the audience sees is the atmosphere of the streets of London, along with the text messages alongside the screen. The audience is therefore able to listen to what ‘Mr’ has to say, and gain an impression from his personality. ‘Mr’ refers to his clients as ‘very nice people who’ve made me a lot of dough’. He often laughs at what he tells us about his clients going behind each other’s back to buy cocaine, how one of them called Sally says “don’t tell John, and John’s like ‘don’t tell Sally” suggesting he has a personal relationship with his clients, conveying him as a nice man. During the whole film, there is often a shot of the time on a digital clock showing his working hours during the day; the story is being told over the time of a day.

Personally, I loved this short film. I found it intriguing and I felt that the fact that his accent was very cockney that he was a more relatable and personable character.

The next few films I analysed are from the short film website: http://www.filminute.com

2. The first one minute film I analysed was called ‘Chop Chop’. It is about an animated character who sweeps in to a situation in which a woman is about to be executed so he fights all of the guards in order to save her. There is plenty of heroic music as he fights and the colours are very pale in the background to grasp the focus of the audience on the event in the foreground. As the men continue to battle, the music suddenly slows and stops as the final guard is held at sword point. He flinches and points to the woman underneath the guillotine. As the character portrayed as the hero pauses and glances at the woman, he realises that she has already been beheaded, and must awkwardly depart from the scene. It turns out that he was much too late to save her, and ended up needlessly killing the rest of the men around her. He whistles for his noble steed, who gallops straight past him. The hero must climb down from the stage and walk away in shame.
What I enjoyed most about this short was the unexpected humour. At first the short seems like an animated action scene that would continue on in a similar manner for the whole minute. However, the contrast that strikes the audience in the middle of the film is so different and awkward to the start of it, that it is amusing and in some ways, believable.

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3. The second one minute film I analysed was called ‘Schnitzels’.
It is a simple short about a man and a woman in a kitchen. The man is sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and a newspaper whilst the woman is at the kitchen surface hitting some meat with a mallet. It is done very repetitively at an equal pace. As the man sits uncomfortably at the kitchen table, the loud banging coming from the mallet pounding the meat is causing his cup of tea to shake on the table. Suddenly, the woman stops pounding. The man uses this as an opportunity to drink his tea while it is no longer shaking on the table. However, as he sips, the pounding begins again causing him to start and spill his tea down his shirt. As he reaches for a tea towel to mop himself with, he spills the tea and it crashes and breaks on the floor. The pounding stops again and the woman slowly looks around with a strong look of grimace on her face. The man looks petrified as he reaches to clean up the broken cup and the woman turns back around to continue cleaning up the cup.
What I enjoyed mainly about this short was the simplicity of it. There is only one main event that occurs and it is also very realistic. What I find most amusing is the look on the woman’s face. She seems to possess some sort of power over the man, simply because he broke the cup full of tea.

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4.  Another short film I analysed was called ‘Lady I’. It begins with the image of a middle aged woman putting on some lipstick in a circular mirror. From this shot, one can assume that she is somewhat middle class by what she is wearing on her face. She smears some of the lipstick from her lips on to her cheeks to work as blusher. After she has applied her make-up, the light hearted music stops and a sound of doors locking and keys jangling appear. In the mirror, the woman’s face begins to wrinkle and shed tears.

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It then fades to black and in the next scene it shows her sitting on the bottom bed of a bunk bed, turning the radio up. The black bolted door in the corner implies that she is in a prison cell, which is much unexpected due to the initial impression the audience may have gained from the first scene. A compartment of the door unlocks and a tray of food is passed through. She looks at it with no emotion and then looks away out of the window, not bothering to go and pick it up. The writing then fades in revealing that ‘Lady I’ in fact stands for ‘Lady Inmate’.
I felt that this film short was fairly simple, yet at the same time had a strong message about first impressions.

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5. The final film short I analysed was my favourite of them all: ‘Flip Book’. The film begins with a crime scene investigation scenario in which photos and notes are being taken of a blonde woman who has a large wound on the side of her head who appears to be dead. The detectives are discussing what has happened. As two of the detectives in white coats begin to talk, the detective who has just entered examines the dead woman more closely. He notices a little book on the floor which reads ‘flip me’ and picks it up. He asks ‘what’s this?’ to his colleagues; however they do not respond and continue to compare notes. The detective decides to flip the book and an animated image of a duck appears. At first it seems like nothing, until the duck’s head begins to spurt blood. The duck is then seen holding a gun, and BANG! A shooting sound is heard. The camera cuts to the floor where the flip book drops and the scene ends. What I loved most about this short was that the innocence of a flip book was counter typed as some form of weapon and it was so unexpected. The flip book acts as an antagonist- I’m afraid I won’t be using one for a very long time now…

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Short Film Research

What is a short film?

A short film can be as short as one minute to one hour, anything longer than that is considered as a feature film.
The main aspect of a short film is the story it entails, there can be as many or as little characters and locations but the story line is the most important part. Originally, films were made as long as the actual film strip would last, which was fairly short.

The very first films were presented to the public in 1894 through Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope, a peepshow-like device for individual viewing”. – (Davies, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-life/7593291/The-long-history-of-short-films.html , Apr 2010)14590133-illustration-of-a-clapboard-clapper-clapperboard-front-view-with-hand-holding-on-isolated-white-back

However, as the 1900’s dawned, films began to get longer with more content. Often, these short films would solely be “actuality” or “interest” films depicting celebrities, royal processions, travelogues, current affairs and scenes from everyday life.” (Davies, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-life/7593291/The-long-history-of-short-films.html , Apr 2010)

Short films do not usually have specific genres; it is defined by its length. “Short film is not a genre description or category but rather a generic term used ever since the early days of cinema to describe all possible forms and genres of film” – (Reinhard W. Wolf editor@ shortfilm.de, http://www.shortfilm.de/en/short-film-magazine/archive/topic/what-is-cinema-what-is-short-film.html,  2006) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1954972/

Why make them?

Short films are usually made by aspiring film makers who aim to try and promote their talents to other film makers who may take them on as interns.
It is a good way to test an idea for a story out. If you have the initial ideas in creating a film, a short film is an effective way in order to make a pilot version before creating the whole film itself. It is also less expensive

“you might be pursuing a career in filmmaking and want to demonstrate your skills” –( http://www.bbc.co.uk/filmnetwork/filmmaking/guide/introduction/why-make-a-short)

Although not that well recognised or advertised, short films are found to be very entertaining, and obviously not very time consuming.

With a short film you can keep the audience’s interest far easier than a long, dragging picture… make each individual part of the film mean something which helps to make the whole piece more impactful, … spend less time worry about budget and actor salary because they are engaged for a shorter amount of time.” – (http://www.theshortsheet.com/2012/08/01/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-short-film/ August 12th 2012)

Funding

The UK Film Council (which has now been taken over by the British Film Industry) has spent £15 million a year funding short films, feature films and new upcoming talents. The BFI “supports filmmakers in the UK who are emerging or world class and capable of creating distinctive and entertaining work”- (http://www.bfi.org.uk/film-industry/lottery-funding-development-production)

The website below is by a “filmmaker and producer/director working in both film and television“:

To get finance for your projects requires a strong and compelling core idea, in depth money-logoresearch, a clear plan for what you want to achieve, and most importantly, the ability to create a strong proposal package for your short film.” –( William Mager, http://wlmager.com/funding-guide/).

Certain film companies such as ‘Film London’ offer finance programs to upcoming short films and work alongside the BFI London Film Festival.  “Film London Production Finance Market will table 800 face-to-face meetings between film producers and financiers (as well as financier-to-financier meetings) over the course of the market”-(http://filmlondon.org.uk/business_and_training/finance/pfm)  which allow opportunities for filmmakers to pitch their idea and persuade larger companies to fund their projects.

Success

Will Mager (a short film maker) provides a list of successful tips about creating a short film. In order to begin creating a short film, one must:
1. Watch short films
2. Read short film scripts
3. Learn more about script writing
4. Start writing a script
5. Research local funds and begin contacting/networking
6. Create a funding proposal
7. Create a sizzle reel (a short video that demonstrates the tone and style of the film you want to make).
When writing a short film script it “requires the exact same skills as writing a feature length script – though on a smaller scale” –(Stephanie Jolland, http://www.raindance.org/7-rules-for-writing-short-films-2/ )

She also comes up with seven rules that one must consider when designing a short film (seven seems to be a recurring number in short film production eh?) Here are a few of them:
The shorter the better:from fifteen seconds to forty five minutes in length”. Usually if the film is shorter it is also more cost effective as it will cost less to pay the actors and for the equipment which are both being used for a shorter amount of time.
Keep the practicalities of writing in mind:If you only have access to modest resources, think small”. It is unlikely that when producing a short film you will have a lot of money or props. Therefore, ideas should be short and simple with little need for extravagant special effects.
Beware of clichés: Avoid stereotypes unless you have a fresh slant on them. There are too many short films in which typical textual features are used, such as children representing innocence or a hit man being hired, therefore you should try and come up with new fresh ideas that nobody would expect.

Distribution/ Exhibition

Short films are often debuted in film festivals such as Sundance and Cannes and are later uploaded online for the public to see.
It is rare that they would be screened in a multiplex cinema; therefore the public are less likely to have as much interest in them as they are not as mainstream.
Art house cinemas would be more likely to screen short films.
Short films are usually funded and distributed by independent distribution companies, as it is rare that large successful companies would take the time to look at a short film; their target audiences are completely different. Short films target a more niche audience distribution_halis_dokgoz_512175whereas Hollywood targets the general public.
It is likely that if a Hollywood vertically integrated distribution company were to take control of an independent short film, they would glamourize and detract from the rawness of it.
A few short film distributors are:

– Dazzle Short Film Label (run by Dawn Sharpless, an independent London-based short film distributor and sales agent. Dazzle Films represents and distributes worldwide a catalogue of high-quality shorts.) www.dazzlefilms.co.uk

– Shorts International (A short film distribution and production company based in the UK who specialise in programming and selling short film).
www.shortsinternational.com

– Film festivals such as FutureShorts (http://futureshorts.com/htmlViewer.php?id=44) which is known as “the largest short film network in the world” works as a worldwide short film festival whilstproviding an alternative system to the traditional film festival model”.
It often organises film tents at some European music festivals such as Glastonbury, The Big Chill and Benicassim. This allows further promotion for the short films and artists who create them.

Audience
Short films can attract many different types of audience. Often, it is less likely that more mainstream cinema viewers would watch short films, it is more common that audiences would have interests in artistic productions.
Plenty of UK film festivals exhibit short films to the public every year. Raindance, a European version of the USA’s Sundance film festival, provides “short film and screenwriting courses”. stock-illustration-10285375-cartoon-audience
“Over the years, the festival has hosted such guests and filmmakers as Christopher Nolan, Shane Meadows, Iggy Pop, Anton Corbijn, Quentin Tarantino, Faye Dunaway and Lou Reed”. (http://www.raindance.org/festival-2013 )
There are also many short film websites which present new the more independent style film viewers, such as :

  • – freshshorts.com
  • – filminute.com
  • – sci-fi-london.com

First thoughts

Hi!!

My name is Gina and this is my blog on short films.
I am a 17 year old A-Level Media student from East London and I love watching and analysing the deeper meanings of films. I tend to prefer psychological thriller films; these are my favourite genre of films as I enjoy the thrill and challenging my mind.

The brief of our project is:

To produce a short film of any genre

I was very excited to hear about this brief as it allows plenty of freedom as well as allowing my creativity to flourish. I am excited to participate in this project  and hope to produce the best work possible.