The short film is enjoying a renaissance in the current cinematic climate. Pixar, so often the masters of complex yet simple movies, have been inserting short pre-credits animations into their films since they began making features, and their unique blend of animation and emotion befits the style almost perfectly. It could be suggested that their work has inspired many filmmakers into creating short films, and this would certainly be applicable in a few cases.
However, with the rise of digital cameras, easy-to-use editing software and the ability to create special effects at home, short films’ rise can more readily be credited to technological innovation. Many of them never make the big screen, even the Oscar-winning entries go largely unnoticed, but there are hundreds of aspiring filmmakers working today who, without a meaningful budget or any recognisable on-screen talent, are making some extremely interesting, captivating short films. Many sites on the web are hosting such videos for free, and there are some which provide not only quantity, but quality in abundance.
So, if you want to enjoy some interesting new movies without paying out for the cinema or a rental, here are some websites that are well worth your time.
Hosting a vast array of movies at all times of the year, Culture Unplugged offers an insight into the volume and skill of filmmakers working independently. Having recently announced the award winners of their 2010 Film Festival, the website at the moment is especially bountiful, with movies ranging in style from documentary to experimental and in length from less than 2 minutes to nearly feature-length. Alberto Gomez Uriol’s Ruedas (or ‘Wheels’ in English) is a perfect example of the kinds of film CU hosts on a regular basis, a touching tale about a young boy and his bike.
The Smalls, like Culture Unplugged, has just announced its winners for this year’s Short Film Fest, and the video below (Chris Fallen’s brilliantly funny A Cheeky 20) was a Scottish entry which won in the ‘Best Under 5 Minute’ category. The Smalls’ output is perhaps more easily categorisable than some other sites’, but that is not to the detriment of the movies’ quality. Ingenuous filmmakers use simple but effective means to communicate their messages, in some cases paying homage, in others developing their own interesting ideas.
Somewhat more enigmatic than its compatriots, TNV is a sparsely designed site where the focus is clearly set on the films being produced. The site’s motto is ‘Pushing the boundaries of digital filmmaking since 1996’, and a look through the available archived videos proves that this mantra is completely accurate. Featuring films in multiple languages, experimental animations and frankly bizarre shorts, TNV is perhaps a site for those with an acquired mindset, but one which can lock you into its ideas very quickly too.
With all its content hailing from – you guessed it – Australia, ASF is a website which looks to highlight homegrown talent. Although not popularly considered a hub of cinema, Australia has produced a number of highly talented filmmakers –Phillip Noyce, Peter Weir, Baz Luhrmann – and literally dozens of Hollywood stars, from Cate Blanchett to Heath Ledger. So it’s fair to say that the talented people on ASF are well worth keeping an eye on. The site hosts many award-winning films from Down Under, such as this beautifully animated film by Simon Streatfeild, entitled Rain.
Nice Shorts features perhaps the largest quantity of short films of any of the sites mentioned here: its seemingly limitless archives could likely fill many hours every single day. Every genre is fully represented, and the inventiveness of the filmmakers on display seems to know no bounds. With a hugely impressive scope of talents and ideas, NS can offer the erstwhile film viewer almost anything they can imagine, and some things they can’t.