With the rise of the internet and all the new ways of sharing, short films are arguably more popular than they have ever been. That means there are more ways than ever before to show off your work, but it also means there is the most competition and without the clear cut path, things might be harder than they ever were before as well.
Fortunately, much light has been shed on the matter by the likes of Oscar-nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (“Super-Size Me”), Op-Docs producer and curator Jason Spingarn-Koff, ESPN Films’ Director of Development Dan Silver (“30 for 30”) and actress Gillian Jacobs (“Community,” “Life Partners”), all of whom sat down for a panel discussion moderated by General Manager of Audience Networks at Vimeo Greg Clayman at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
“Bigger is not always better. Morgan Spurlock asserted his claim that “there are stories that are made to be feature length movies, and there are stories that should be television projects — 45-60 minutes — and sometimes people try to stretch those into features and they shouldn’t. And then there are stories that are perfect or fantastic in a 3-5 minute segment, that’s where they should live. And one of the things that we try to do and one of the things that I believe in is that you need to explore that creative process. You shouldn’t stretch things longer than they should be.”
Networks won’t interfere. Gillian mentioned another benefit of working on Helms’ project, the fact that “it’s really fun. There were no notes [on Helms’ project], there were no studio representatives on set saying ‘Please don’t do that’ or ‘Say that.'” Spurlock also pointed out the fact that “there’s not as much pressure as a network where you have to get a certain number every single week or they’re gonna cancel the show. Things are done at a certain price point, they have a little more fun and basically the networks, be it AOL or Yahoo! or Hulu, want to give that creative flexibility. That’s what enticing about it.”
However, he also brought up the issue that “it’s gonna be harder for people when you come up, as it is for anyone. The question is can you drive people to smaller channels to watch things? It’s still gonna come down to marketing, it’s gonna be coming down to advertising, to co-promotion. Right now, we live in a world where there’s so much on the internet that 99% of stuff online is invisible. There’s just no way to market it because there’s just too much, and you’re gonna start seeing some people get behind the promotion of certain content.”