We are witnessing a digital revolution with millions of web users watching short films as they become the standard communication tool promoting values, culture and business ethics.
From music videos to politics, short films are the medium of choice to communicate ideology, vision, style and much more. What better way to do it than through the unlimited potential of visual storytelling? For a long time short films have been the underdog of the film industry but they are set to become a bigger deal than Hollywood movies themselves. Let me show you a few examples of how relevant short films are today in digital communication, and also how they have a bigger potential audience than regular Hollywood releases. Below you will find successful shorts that have attained millions of views thanks to their originality and ‘cult’ status.
Short Films in Entertainment
In the film industry, short films in the form of trailers are important marketing tools to promote big releases. We see them on TV too, transitioning to social media and video sharing sites like Youtube and Dailymotion. But now, there’s a monetization aspect behind short films that makes it more interesting for studios and even indie filmmakers to make them and this is not just from a promotional point of view. Why is Youtube investing $100+ million in premium content channels with celebrities? The growth is huge. People love short content. It’s likely that most of you reading this article will have watched at least 2 short videos in the last 24 hours. With the growth of video ads, and an online audience of hundreds of millions, investing money in a viral short film could bring huge returns. Also, a short film on Youtube for example, can be up there for years. It has a timeless value if done properly and it’s just very exciting to see its potential, which is still just at the beginning of the growth phase.
From the perspective of talent agents who represent A list actors, short films are not a great format to get involved with but now that concept can be reversed. If a short filmmaker has a really engaging short project, and a good team of people behind it (marketing included) should talent agents shut the door on them? I have heard so many great projects being ignored by top agencies because they were short films, and it’s short filmmakers who are the future of this industry. Whether you represent Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie, there’s a huge audience online waiting to see these actors in the short film space. I can only see these collaborations as a win-win. It’s not necessarily about milking the financial model of a short. Let’s face it, making money directly off short films has never been the aim of the format, but now there’s a real opportunity to do so, and without selling out. Ads combined with product placement, viral concepts, and comedy can generate huge returns, build massive audiences and provide stars with an increase in viewership for everything they do.
Short Films in Politics & Culture
The Arab Spring will go down in history as the first truly worldwide movement mobilized through the power of the web. The message of short films created the atmosphere for change and uprisings. From street protests to gun battles, short films, videos and first hand accounts toppled governments, enforced change, and spread the idea of accountability and transparency. Short films in the form of interviews and amateur videos captivated people. They were also not the product of a Hollywood studio, but of citizens witnessing actual change.
In a political climate, short films are the propaganda tools of our generation. The viral nature and amplification effect of the web has skyrocketed the influence of these short films and there is more to come. From Governments to NGOs, all organizations are turning to the format to speak their ideas and inform their followers.
Short Films in Business
In business, short films are the communication tools of values, products, innovation, transparency and much more. It’s the interaction of video that makes it so interesting for businesses in all industries to reach out to people across the web and connect with them more personally. This medium just continues to shine, and there’s proof of that. If we look at the ‘business’ behind chat shows like ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’ and Anderson Cooper, even these guys are turning to short films to build their audiences online and get them engaged with their shows.
To add to this argument, the power of short films not only builds movements (as we can see in the world today), but it connects people to each other. It’s an emotional tool that people can become part of, not just in the online space. Once your message is out there, and it’s engaging, people can become aligned with your values for years, and it creates new possibilities and new collaborations.
I hope with this information you can discover a positive way to use short films in your daily lives. There are so many good things about short films that I could write another 10,000 words on this topic. For now, I hope you can enjoy what the web has to offer. Below is a list of viral short films, each with their own flair of creativity. You may not agree with them, and you may not like them, but the fact that millions have seen them is a lesson for you to make your shorts catch the attention they deserve.
Short films that gained international recognition (in no particular order)
These short films and music videos gained huge viewerships online and didn’t star major actors or boast million dollar production budgets. This is proof of concept. Now it’s time to take it to the next step, and I hope agents, actors and filmmakers reading this can appreciate the value that short films have in our world today. Best of luck to you! I also want to thank all the short filmmakers who have contributed their success stories to our network, which you can see in our interviews section.
Short film: Attaque De Panico!
6.7 million views
A filmmaker from Uruguay uploaded a sci-fi effects driven short film that impressed major film producers. He was later reportedly hired to shoot a $30 million feature film with Sam Raimi.
Music video: Rebecca Black : Friday
(Original) 100+ million views
Rebecca Black attained worldwide fame with her cheesy song ‘Friday’. The original video garnered over 100 million views and catapulted this young teenager into the spotlight with a music career and a huge fan base.
Short videography: Ted Williams
20+ million views
Remember Ted Williams, the homeless man? A video of him using his voice skills became a global hit after a videographer from the Columbus Dispatch uploaded it online. The press and bloggers loved it and he subsequently became a media figure after attracting so much praise for his talent.
Short infomercial: Will it Blend?
10+ million views
Blendtec uploaded a catchy video showing how their blender products could actually ‘blend’ an iphone into pieces. It was so unique it garnered cult status and catapulted the business to new heights. Customers were given proof of value and it was very entertaining.