It's often hard to get started in filmmaking when there's plenty of short films found in the internet right now, especially since the dawn of video streaming sites. How can someone get noticed when there are thousands of short films online? This reasoning leads some to give up on their dream of being a filmmaker and decide to pursue other work.
Although it truly is hard to get into the spotlight, you should never stop making short films for yourself and your friends. Making films as short as 3 minutes might seem like a small task, but this gives you more practice and experience in filmmaking rather than just sitting in your butt watching films. Well known filmmakers didn't just start making full length feature films immediately and got famous. They started with short films that might be considered bad by some, but sometimes these works get noticed by the right people and it kick-starts their career. Here are some of the short films by famous directors that might inspire you to make your own.
Neill Blomkamp, 'Alive in Joburg' (2004)
Blomkamp started out as a visual effects artist in South Africa with a history in TV advertisements and music videos. In 2005, he made a short named Alive in Joburg. Peter Jackson came upon his work and decided to bring him to work for the visual effects company that Jackson runs in New Zealand. And when Blomkamp's work on the Halo film version fell through, Jackson suggested that Blomkamp develop his short into a feature film. The film's title was changed to District 9 and used the same filming location as the short film. It went on to gross more than $200 million while also earning four Academy Award nominations.
John Lasseter, 'Luxo Jr.' (1986)
Back in 1986, Steve Jobs bought Lucasfilm Computer Graphic Group from George Lucas and renamed the company Pixar. After the purchase, he set one of his animator, John Lasseter, to work on an animated short film to showcase their company's talents. Luxo Jr., a playful little lamp, was the product of their work. The short became the first 3D film to benominated for an Oscar, and made the lamp Pixar's corporate 'mascot'. Lasseter later went on to direct animated films such as Toy Story, A Bug' Life, and Cars among others, eventually rising to the top as Pixar's chief creative officer.
Tim Burton, 'Frankenweenie' (1984)
Before the animated film Frankenweenie came out to theaters in 2012, it was originally a short film by director Tim Burton created in 1984. The short film was supposed to precede the premiere of the 1984 Pinocchio in theaters, but Disney thought it had a dark tone that wasn't fit for a family friendly film so the studio fired him. As luck would have it, Stephen King had seen Burton's short and recommended him to Paul Reubens, who was at that time searching for a director for his film idea. Reubens and Burton met shortly after and offered him his first debut as the director of 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure'.
George Lucas, 'Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB' (1967)
This short was made by George Lucas back when he was a film student at the University of Southern California in 1967. It tells a story of a group of people living in a dystopic world underground. The film won first prize in the dramatic films category at the 3rd National Student Film Festival. Because of the praise that the short received, Lucas' friend and classmate Francis Ford Coppola decided to fund the feature film version when he founded his production company American Zoetrope in 1971. The feature version unfortunately bombed at the box office, but it was well received by the critics that Lucas was set to direct his next films titled 'American Graffiti' and 'Star Wars'.
Wes Anderson, 'Bottle Rocket' (1994)
Bottle Rocket is one of the short films that showcased Wes Anderson's skill as a director. In 1992, Anderson met Owen Wilson in a playwriting class. The two wrote a script together, turned it to a film starring Wilson as one of the would-be criminals and shot it in a local filming location. It didn't fare well in the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, but Bottle Rocket gained the attention of producer James Brooks, who funded the duo's feature film debut based on the short. The film quickly gained cult status among critics and movie-goers, with Martin Scorsese naming the film one of his 10 favorite movies of the decade.