Short film

From Academic Kids

Short subject is an American film industry term that historically has referred to any film in the format of two reels, or approximately 20 minutes running time, or less.

The term came to be applied in the 19-teens, when the majority of feature films began to be made in much longer-running editions. A typical film program came to be expected to include a feature preceded by one or more short subjects. Short subjects could be live action or animated; comedy was particularly utilized as their style, and well-known comedians such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and others are best known from short subject films.

Animated cartoons likewise came principally as short subjects, as did newsreels. Less frequently, short subjects might be in the form of travelogues, human interest films or concert films. The form was so popular that virtually all major production companies had fully staffed, special units assigned to develop and produce them; and many companies, especially in the silent and very early sound era, produced short subjects exclusively (e.g. Keystone Film Co., Educational Film Co.).

In the 1950s, television programming, including broadcast of older short subjects sold to television stations, eclipsed the value of all but cartoons featuring well-loved characters; but by the end of the sixties, the cost of manufacturing these had come to outweigh the return, and short subjects effectively disappeared from the movie screens.

Since the 1980s, short subjects have come to be munged together with "short films", an international, academic term used to mean a contemporary non-commercial motion picture that is substantially shorter than the average commercial feature film. Definition of maximum length vary from 40 minutes (AMPAS rule) to about 80 minutes. The short-film form is to the full length film what the short story is to a full-fledged novel.

Short films often focus on difficult topics which longer, more commercial films usually avoid. Their filmmakers benefit from larger freedoms and can take higher risks with their films, but must rely on festival and art house exhibition to achieve public display.

Most short films are better known outside the United States than within, due to less rigidity of audience expectation as to programme content, arrangement and length, abroad.


The form itself splits into several sub-categories, mainly:

Short films are also popular as first steps into the cinematic art among young filmmakers. As well, short film making is growing in popularity among users outside the traditional short film scene who are taking advantage of broadband Internet connections and affordable equipment such as "prosumer" or semi-professional cameras (now costing under USD$3,000) and PCs with free or low-cost software capable of video editing, post-production work, and DVD authoring.

External links

  • AtomFilms ( a popular short film portal and one of the pioneers on the net
  • iFilm ( No.2 in short films on the net
  • At Confession ( Independent Short Film
  • the9th ( short quicktime movies
  • Clipland Short Film ( database of nearly 10,000 films
  • Hypnotic ( on- and offline publisher of short films
  • LA Freewaves ( experimental new media festival
  • Saturday Shorts ( experimental filmmakers who make a short film every Saturday night
  • Chicago International REEL Shorts Festival ( One of the top midwest short film festivals.

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