Short filmmaking is incredibly important. This form allows filmmakers to hone their skills and work out their ideas. You’ve seen short films before. Music videos and commercials are a kind of short form filmmaking. It’s all about telling a story and telling it well in only a few minutes. As audience’s attention spans grow shorter and shorter, learning how to tell a story and capture someone’s interest in a matter of minutes is vital. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences define a short film to be 40 minutes or less. Personally, I’m a fan of anything under 23 minutes (and I think there’s a sweet spot for shorts in the 5 to 16 minutes range). As a film festival programmer of shorts for over ten years, I’ve seen thousands of short films covering all different genres. When done well, shorts remind you why you love movies and that is hard to achieve. Sometimes, you’re part of a discovery experience. You truly appreciate talent when you see it.
So what does short films have to do with food? Well, think of them as a snack. A creative refueling for the artistic soul. They could be healthy or bad for you, but either way they are a great break in a long day – or from watching a lot of features.
Shorts and snacks make a perfect pair. It only seems fitting to start this series with Denis Villeneuve’s 2008 short, Next Floor. This was one of my favorite films that played the circuit in 2008/2009. Seeing it on the big screen in all it’s 35mm glory was a treat. (Let’s pause here because, yes – this was when shorts were still on 35mm at a festival! How quickly that has changed in the last few years.) This short is equal parts clever, beautiful and outrageous. It’s been over eight years since I first saw this short and I will never forget the visceral feeling of awe I experienced seeing it on a big screen in a dark theater.
A short like Next Floor is how a filmmaker grabs the world’s attention and proves you can take on the bigger, feature-length stage. And grab attention he did. Since Next Floor played at film festivals around the world, Villeneuve has gone on to direct the features Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015) and this fall’s Arrival (2016) with Amy Adams (which I’m very excited to see).
What’s your favorite snack? Grab it and let’s watch some short films, yeah?
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
2008 / 12 min / Canada
During an opulent and luxurious banquet, complete with cavalier servers and valets, eleven pampered guests participate in what appears to be a ritualistic gastronomic carnage. In this absurd and grotesque universe, an unexpected sequence of events undermines the endless symphony of abundance.
Next Floor from Centre Phi | Phi Centre on Vimeo.