There are many reasons you should make short films if you’re interested in a film making career. (There are a few reasons not to make them but that is a topic for another discussion). Here’s just some of them:
This one’s a no-brainer right? Even so, there is more to this than just the fact that working on your project gives you the unique opportunity to fine tune your film making skills. What people often don’t realise is that creating your own film projects exposes them to all aspects of making a film: from hiring locations, to casting, to costuming and even to organising catering for the event (you should always feed your cast & crew!). Now it is true that as you hopefully move up the ranks in the industry you won’t have worry about these aspects of film making. But the fact that you have spent years perhaps learning it all will make you a better film maker. You’ll have a better understanding of how the whole process comes together which means that you will have more control over the process. You’re exposure to the various tasks required will give you an in depth understanding into the various departments which means that you will be better at selecting and hiring others when it comes to the real thing.
At this stage of your film making you are still learning. You may or may not have gone to film school. You may or may not studied the history of film and film technique. But you will have varying degrees of talent and passion. You will have a particular story or a group of stories you want tell . But do you yet know how you can more effectively portray those ideas so that audiences can be moved, entertained or touched by them? And how do you gain this priceless knowledge?
Say you may set out to make the scariest film the world has ever seen. But how will you do that? Which camera angles will be most effective, which lighting setup should you use to create your desired mood? Should you use sweeping long shorts or quick cutaways? Should you close on the victim’s face or should you pull back?
The simple answer is practice and application. Only practice will enable you to understand what will work or what won’t and in what context and how. Practice will also reveal to your your strengths and weaknesses as a filmmaker which is the most important in your development as an artist. That is where short films come in. They are a (relatively) cheap way for you to learn your craft.
LEARNING FROM MISTAKES
This follows on from the above. Short films are the perfect place for you to make mistakes. If your short horror film wasn’t that scary after all, learn from the experience. Perhaps the story needed some fine-tuning or perhaps the staging wasn’t quite right. Whatever the mistakes you made, correct them in your next short film. It is better to make a particular mistake than to make when on your first studio funded feature. If you make a mistake then, you will be putting your career in jeopardy.
You may very well be the next Alfred Hitchcock, the next Stanley Kubrick but do we know that? Will we ever? Unfortunately, because the rewards are (at least imagined to be) so great, there is a lot of competition in this game. This means that to break into the film industry is so damn hard, and rare. But do not be discouraged. In the film industry like in all others, the cream rises to the top. Luckily there are a few different ways to get to the top (and by top I mean working in the industry). One of those ways is through making short films, and lots of them. Expose your work (hopefully it good) to as many people and audiences as you can. Show the world a glimpse of your vision in your next short and if it good, and if the world likes what they see, they’ll want to see more.