What's the main market for short films?

A filmmaker makes a ten or twenty minute long movie. What is his or her intended market for this film? (I’m ignoring student made films or films made for a commercial client here - these films have an obvious “audience” in mind when they are made.) Obviously a film of this length is not going to get a theatrical release by itself. There are a few DVD collections of short films but it’s a small niche market (and I’m one of the people in it). And you can upload it to a website but that’s not really a market. So are these films even intended for a general audience? Or is their main purpose to be shown to people in the film business?

I’d say the main market for short films is the people who can greenlight long films.

Precisely. I’m currently working on a short CG animated film myself, and besides doing it for the love of it, and to create and accomplish a small work of entertainment, my hopes are that it will lead to much bigger things. A proof of some sort to show you have the chops. It’s worked in the stuff I do commercially, so hopefully it applies to the entertainment world as well. An award or two couldn’t hurt either. :wink:

The independent film channel airs a whole lot of them, too. What I wish is that ifc would air episodes of Exposure, which was another market for those short films.

I think jacquilynne hit it on the head, but also there are many films that are made in experimental film styles that might work best (are definitely are easier to fund) in short subjects. And as with short stories, sometimes you have a good, complete plot that just doesn’t need 90 minutes to play out.

Lots of film festivals play short films, and local film societies may run occasional programs of them. They’re available on the internet and on IFC, so these days film fans who want to see them can seek them out fairly easily.

cmyk, might I ask - is making a short CG film an expensive endeavor? I have seen clips of one of yours, I think (the cute little dragon?) and other than the software cost, is there anything else? I mean, the TIME cost must be a lot, no?

I saw a great short animated feature somewhere - I think YouTube - that was Pixar quality. It was about an animal trying to get food off of a vegetable truck. The quality and the length made me think it was so very expensive to make.

Is it expensive to break into the CG animation field?

The shorts programs are usually the best part of film festivals.

I read an interview in a Film Festival brochure once. A filmmaker who had a short featured in the festival, a filmmaker who’d made several well received shorts in the past, said he hates being asked “when will you make your first feature?”, he said he’d prefer that people ask “when will you make more shorts?”

Would be a much better anecdote if I could tell you who the filmmaker was- sorry.
Point is, there are some filmmakers who prefer the format of the short, and/or prefer subjects that are best served by a short. These guys are never going to get rich- they’re looking at film festivals, some showings on IFC, maybe a DVD compilation. They do it because it’s what they love.

Also, in many many cases . . . ditto what jacquilynne said.

It’s just that I was watching some short films the other day and I was reflecting on how they were the least commercial films being made - because they aren’t shown in theatres, they almost literally have no commercial value. So the filmmakers are presumedly making them for completely artistic reasons free from any commercial considerations.

But then I thought that if the main purpose of making short films was for them to be shown within the film industry itself, they were pretty much the exact opposite. If they are, in effect, audition tapes, they are presumedly being crafted to please the executives who will watch them and advance the filmmaker’s career and they are arguably the least artistic films being made.

I think that all really depends on what you’re able to do yourself to minimize overhead. As for me, I have enough experience in the 3D realm as well as all the software that supports it (photoshop, illustrator, graphic design) that I don’t need to depend on a lot of outside resources. There certainly is cost, but I already have everything paid for because my livelihood and job depends on it, so the only real cost is my time.

That said, I am not the creator of “the cute little dragon”, but I have a production diary that I work on and off on for the last couple years marking my progress here in case you’re interested. The older stuff is unfortunately not up to par with where I’m at today, and after this week, I’m going to be taking about 3-4 weeks off of work (I work from home now) in order to really make some headway on the short. I plan on finishing in time to enter it in the Siggraph '08 festival.

The short you mention on youtube, I believe is one that was created by a mediumish-sized pro studio called Blur . The do a ton of commercial work as well as entertainment. Was it called Gopher Broke?

And not all film executives are made the same, so you hope that the stuff you create out of love & hard work will somehow attract people in a more powerful position of like mind. There’s a lot of BS out there, and filmmakers are a dime a dozen… when making a short, you put all that aside, and just focus on what you LOVE about films and making them. It’s a very good place to work from, even if it doesn’t end up applying anywhere practical. It’s mostly an indulgent work, with the bonus side effects of possibly leading to more of the same but with dollar signs attached if you have the right blend of talent, skill and commercial-entertainment appeal. Not only that, but it helps if you’re a very approachable, flexible and down-to-earth person, IMHO. In essence, take what you do seriously, but not yourself.