Keeping it short but sweet

April 10th, 2019

The Oscars continue to award them, and animation has used them to innovate. But with rumours of a Jurassic World short playing ahead of this summer’s Fast and Furious spin-off, could Hollywood be looking to capitalise on the short film genre?

Telling a story, connecting to the audience and eliciting emotion from the audience in a short space of time? That is the art of the short.

The Oscars continue to award them, and animation has used them to innovate. But with rumours of a Jurassic World short playing ahead of this summer’s Fast and Furious spin-off, could Hollywood be looking to capitalise on the short film genre?

“I think short films can feel like they are niche, they can be still perceived as student fair or films you make before you make a ‘real film’. I understand that train of thought but it’s too simplistic, sometimes the short-medium is the perfect length for a subject.

Pixar has made fantastic short films that couldn’t stretch to 90 minutes but in their current form are great experiences,” says south Wales film-maker Lewis Carter.

For most audiences animated shorts would have been their only experience seeing a small film before a full length one at the cinema. But it may be surprising for some to discover that this was commonplace at the movie theatre up until about the early 80s.

Dylan Cave cites this change on the BFI’s screen online: “the arrival of the blockbuster movie killed the mixed programme. With the exception of some children’s movies, few cinemas now show anything by way of supporting items beyond a few adverts and trailers.”

The short has been used for many different uses – television, adverts, music videos and DVD extras, but could audiences’ love of online content, and the industries strive for franchise film making, bring back the short film?

The last few years have seen shorts feed fans hunger for more content. Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat filled in the missing regeneration of Paul McGann in a mini-episode The Night of the Doctor in preparation for the show’s 50th anniversary.

Marvel Studios gave us One-Shots in the early formation of their cinematic universe to fill in gaps and even please angry fans who wanted a fix to narrative choices in Iron Man 3 (All Hail the King).

But the idea of Universal Studios giving us an unrelated Jurassic World short before another tentpole franchise shows just how much they want to implement these films into the public conscious.

Content is becoming shorter and fighting to grab viewers attention. A Jurassic short could turn some of the negative talk for its first two films and subtly advertise its third instalment. Even trailers now need around five seconds to show off their money shots to draw in viewers in a similar way the Jurassic short could bring in a new audience for the Fast and Furious franchise.

Will we soon see a time where the latest Avengers film is preceded by a short for their next big superhero? Or could a new franchise be teased before the latest Harry Potter spinoff?

Such a concept could be an opportunity for aspiring film-makers and provide creative opportunities for those bogged down by the formulaic blockbuster.

Lewis Carter thinks that while these mainstream shorts may not bring in a totally new audience or detract them from independent pieces, it does give a chance for upcoming film-makers to become recognised.

If film studios like Disney or Universal want to get the industry on board, what better way than to boast a new generation of film-makers? George Lucas, Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan all started with short content which has been the stepping stones into filmmaking for thousands of professionals today.

THX, A Trip to the Moon and even the Wrong Trousers are some of the most famous and influential short films of all time. If the industry was willing to give newcomers the reigns on some of their biggest franchises this could not only revolutionise film but change the way we see cinematic universes.

David Osgar

@DavidOsgar