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12th March 2020

Opinion: The finicky fight for short films, funding, and finding resources

Deputy Music Editor Georgina Davidson examines the difficulties in creating, distributing and funding short films
Opinion: The finicky fight for short films, funding, and finding resources
Photo: Tobias Soar

The creation of a piece of short film, whether fictional or based on fact, can often become a challenging journey through the various demands and abilities to push through difficulties. Pressure on time and resources can have a strong economic impact, whether healthy or detrimental, on these films.

The ability to distribute film has only become more abundantly available – just a quick search can reveal the expansive use of social media, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other online platforms, keen to provide new, original content at faster, regular rates to a wider audience. Gone is the all wielding power of Hollywood and huge economic pressures to create feature length, colossal tales. Frankly, the amount of unnecessary remakes and unrelenting desire of studios to sell out and grow the span of archaic tales appears to be causing audiences to switch off.

Just months earlier during his satirical stint as host of Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais quipped tellingly: “No one goes to the cinema anymore… This show should just be me going ‘Well done Netflix. You win everything. Good night.’ But no, we’ve got to drag it out for three hours.” Of course this is not quite how the award show eventually played out, but it was just one example of a hit back at the Hollywood film industry and its contemporary creators.

There is just something that’s quite tangibly exciting about the potential of Netflix original films and series. At it’s conception there were doubters who could not see the delight of the peppered internet space which offered the opportunity for smaller, lower budget offerings to finally come to light in new and exciting ways — inspiring a new generation of film makers to see the possibilities of film and the potential of their storytelling.

Having made a short film myself as part of my undergraduate degree, I discovered that it was an artistically rewarding and culturally enlightening process, even if it was, at times, tricky to plan for. It took hours alone to film my 3 minute creation. Then there has to be consideration about how different audiences might view and perceive it with regards to distribution. However, as one of my heroes of filmmaking Andrei Tarkovsky once said:

“Relating a person to the whole world: that is the meaning of cinema.”

Using this to guide the way you might consider making film, it kind of clears the pathway a little. Tarkovsky’s words resonate with me because his statement puts the passions, thoughts, and interests of your own individual exploration first. The enemy of creating an engaging film is trying to write for the masses and seeking to tell a story that you think people will like or will garner interest.

Although funding can often be a tricky element to master and balance, it is, however, promising to see festivals, such as Manchester Lift Off 2020, which promote new UK short films and international filming projects. Described as “a unique channel consisting of eleven global cities and an on-demand platform”, this creative network intends to provide unique insight into the possibilities of alternative global distribution by allowing creatives to take their work to the next stage of competing in the wider film market effectively.

The festival is a showcase of some of their latest season of creative projects and is just one of many opportunities to catch some talents that have yet to break through into the wider market. Taking this time to view this work now could provide crucial encouragement and space for the artist to grow, develop and create a network of creators for huge features of the future.

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