He Said She Said: The Internet and Short Films: An Overview

Since the beginning of this new millennium we as a society have found ourselves embracing the advent of the digital age.  Mostly due to the growing popularity of the internet in the mid nineteen nineties, this digital revolution has effected all facets of popular, and even obscure culture. Even the medium of short film has been effected by the recent technological booms of the past two decades, namely in the boundaries that the internet has pushed this medium to go to.  It is my contention that the internet instilled a new life, and quite possibly saved the art form of short film.

Coming out of the late seventies and early eighties there were not a lot of short film makers, especially within the United States that could receive any kind of national distribution (unless being packaged with other shorts from various film competitions/ selections). As the later part of the eighties came upon us, the world was given Music Television, and there was a spark in the medium of short films again. This concept of making videos that last as long as a single song became the first step in creating a resurgence for the publics interest in short films.

Music videos continued to boom, and then in the mid nineties, the internet really began to take off with the advent of American Online pushing forward the technology. As the internet became more popular society demanded faster computers, and better download speeds. In the early double O decade, high-speed internet became a reality and with that came the desire to watch something from the comfort of your laptop, and thus the idea of streaming videos was born

With this powerful new ability to stream content waves of videos numbering in the billions have been uploaded to the internet, many of them short films in some aspect or another.  The internet has in fact become one of the most powerful tools for directors and artists to get noticed or funded for their projects.  During this time other products like digital cameras,  cell phone cameras Like the days of old people began simply filming whatever they could and uploaded the videos from said devices to platforms such as youtube and vimeo.

While many maintain that the over saturation of the market and endless wave of amateur videos, combined with endless waves of illegally distributed clips is destroying the film industry in general, this medium of easy self distribution has been proven to showcase many unknown and talented directors; in conjunction with a more easily distributable market to advertise to. Key short films were discovered by placing their works onto youtube, one such film was “9”, a short film that took director, Shane Aker, four and a half years, on and off, to create. Acker used the programs Maya 1.55.5, Photoshop for the textures, After Effects for compositing, and Premiere for editing. This film was one of the top contenders in the best animated short film category at the academy awards, as well as garner such critical acclaim that in 2009 the short was adapted into a full length feature, produced by Tim Burton. That being said the short film is much better and clearly and precisely explains in ten minutes, what the feature consistently over simplifies and reiterate. The short simply had more resonance, tonally you were on the edge of your seat most of the time, and if not, you would be almost moved to tears at the emotions of the voiceless main character. This short is a gleaming example of the power that short film is now privy to thanks to their assimilation into the aforementioned digital viewing devices.

As you can see “9” is a truly masterful short that was allowed to succeed because of its popularity on the internet.  The director of the self made Mortal Kombat trailer that had the internet a buzz, Kevin Tancharoen, is one such success story. Here is a director that has to this day directed movies that were swept up in the big break dance challenge phase, with his only big screen credentials being the movie “Fame”( 2009), “Britney Spears: Live in Miami, and a run as director for several episodes of the series “Pussy Cat Dolls Present: The Sear For The Next Doll”. That being said I was absolutely astounded and aghast that the same director that had previously made these films, somehow make such an outright tour de force with his pitch to direct Mortal Kombat.

If you just viewed this and are in as much disbelief as I am I believe the man’s point has been made. It is phenomenal that a director that, given his previous works, said to the industry he himself will fund some scenes and place it on youtube, in short, he was able to make a short feature and pitch it not only to movie executives but also the movie going public. Thanks to the outcry of support the public had for this short he is now commissioned to make a seven episode series of short films based on his take of the Mortal Kombat mythos.

Successes like these are happening all the time now thanks to the internet and its easy accessibility. Not only has the internet allowed enthusiasts to give it their best, but it has also allowed up and coming directors  a new platform to practice and display their craft. Many of the artistic film community has also used the internet to start distributing their works. Foreign film makers are now able to reach the entire world with their pieces all that they need is a computer and a connection to the internet. It is now literally that simple to be noticed on as a film maker, and in the fast paced short attention span world we live in today, short films are the perfect medium to embrace and use the internet to its full potential.


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