5 Reasons Why a Short Film is the New Documentary

I’m a filmmaker and some of the best films I’ve seen have been short films. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences recently launched the Oscar Shorts program for people to see nominated live action, animated and documentary shorts in theaters. Concept boards can be used in a short film for some documentary shots.

Here are five reasons why a short film is the new documentary:

  1. You can make one on your phone.
  2. They’re a great way to get discovered as a filmmaker.
  3. They’re less expensive than documentaries.
  4. You can always expand it into a feature doc or narrative film.
  5. You can use short films to promote longer projects, like feature docs or narrative films, or even a business you’re trying to build an audience for.

In a word, yes! Short films are an economical way to present your business story or promote your product or service. It’s an exciting way to connect with your audience and show the personal side of what you do. In fact, it can be a great alternative to traditional marketing and advertising methods.

Here are 5 reasons why:

  • Short films are more interesting than commercials.
  • Short films can be used for marketing purposes (e-commerce, social media, websites).
  • Short films are great for branding as they’re unique and creative.
  • Short films can be used by businesses as part of their corporate identity (CEO interviews, profiles of employees).
  • Short films have a higher quality than most TV commercials because they’re not limited by censorship rules or advertising regulations (no nudity allowed on TV).

Short films have been around for decades, but their time has come. Today, short films are the new documentary.

The short film format offers a similar experience to the documentary, but with a focus on a more concise and relevant point that can be conveyed in under 40 minutes. The best short films are made by filmmakers who have a clear vision about what they want to achieve with their film and an understanding of how to communicate it effectively. Unlike feature-length movies, which take years to produce, short films allow everyone involved to concentrate on the one thing that matters most: communicating the message while still offering an aesthetically pleasing experience.

Short films are often more easily digested than feature-length movies because viewers can identify with them on a more personal level and appreciate how they connect with real-life experiences. They’re also available in a variety of digital formats (online, DVD/Blu Ray), which means they can be enjoyed at any time and place—anywhere you have an internet connection or a DVD player.

Over the last few years, the documentary has been taking a back seat to its younger sibling, the short film. Documentaries have always been great at getting viewers engaged in important topics and raising awareness to causes that may not otherwise be addressed. However, in this time of social media overload and time-crunched attention spans, the short film is an ideal alternative that is actually much more captivating than its longer counterpart.

The documentary is often a long process for the crew, but for many viewers, it’s just not enough. With a running time of 40 minutes or more, it can be hard to hold someone’s interest. Especially when we’re hit with so many new things every day—new videos on Facebook, new images on Instagram—the average person’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter.

Short films are more engaging because they focus on one topic or theme without straying too far off course. It’s easier to keep track of where you are with a film that clocks in at only five minutes—and if you don’t like what you’re seeing by minute three, you can always stop watching. No need to power through an entire hour and a half when you can get the gist from something 15 minutes long.

Short films are becoming the new documentaries.

It’s no secret that we’re living in a time where short form content is fast overtaking long form. Each week, millions of hours of short films are consumed on YouTube and Facebook, much of it documentary-style content. And this makes sense — research shows that viewers retain more information when they consume it in shorter doses.

But the real reason why people are gravitating towards shorts is that they can be made quickly and without a large budget — even a single person with little equipment can make them.

Why do short films have a bad reputation? Most people, if they think of them at all, think of shorts as amateurish and pointless, something you make when you don’t have the money to produce a feature. A short film is not the same as a documentary, right?

Let me tell you about a short film called The Red Turtle. For the most part it is dialogue-free, and tells the story of a man who crashes on an island and tries to escape from it. He tries to build rafts from bamboo, but each time he does so his rafts are destroyed by a giant red turtle that surfaces from under the water. Eventually he becomes resigned to living on the island, and makes his home there.

Short films may be less common than documentaries these days, but they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand in the way that many people do. Here are five reasons why I think we should take them more seriously:

  • They are cheaper to make than documentaries
  • They take less time to make than documentaries
  • They can tackle big issues in a small space
  • They can feature in festivals like Sundance
  • They don’t have to have a message