Short Films 2.0 : Filmmaking Takeaways from MovieBuff Short Film Competition

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There are many short film festivals that we get to witness all along the year. There are a very few of those festivals where an individual encounters with good film watching experience. One of those festivals for me personally has been the movie buff’s first clap. With the season 2 that has arrived now with around 20 films being posted online, it truly was a good short film experience for me in the recent times.

Though for most of us, it has become a tedious job to even click a short film link to watch it, the first clap season 2 is a wholesome way to go ahead with. I’m saying this because, over the years, the quality of short films have been deteriorating at a fast pace. Due to that, each of our mindsets has been tuned to the bad watching experience that makes us hesitant in watching a short film. But, has it changed with the first clap season 2? Yes, It surely has towards the positive! It has even opened new perspectives on making short films!

I’m going to talk about two aspects from here. How the makers of the films in the season 2 have brought in the respective look and feel in their films. Then, the takeaways for aspirants like us from these fresh looking films!

Look & feel of these films – Visual aesthetics.

Casting = Half filmmaking done right away!

There’s a bad idea of zero-budget filmmaking that we short filmmakers have been committing from a long, Long time. If the story demands a personality of say in the 40’s, we due to the budget reasons cast our long time friend who has just passed out of college. Sometimes, we get to witness a college guy portraying the role of a police officer (with no match), we get to see an elite looking guy in his 20’s portraying the role of a security guard and many more! Almost all films in the first clap season 2 have gone ahead with the casting. They have made sure that they rightly cast actors according to the look and feel of the character in their stories. In Fact, these casting are so apt that it almost brings us into the story at the sight of them. Some of these filmmakers have strained themselves to secure experienced actors too!

Props – One of the most consequential aspects that is overlooked everytime!

Props which is one of the most underrated aspects in short filmmaking, again due to budget reasons has been dealt with utmost sincerity in these films. We don’t realise that some of the most minimal props when used in a frame enhances the look and feel of it to levels that we wouldn’t have imagined before. This has again been broken by these filmmakers of first clap that they have proved how the most minimalistic props are vital in creating the watching experience for the viewer. These props even enhance the production design with almost very little to no investment.  For example, the gramha phone in the film 4 sottu that completely draws our attention to it. Also, the statue in kalki!

Extras or co-actors!

We usually tend to undermine the value of extras in the frame. But a negligent extra in the frame could be catastrophic for the film! These films have respected the extra’s value and have brought out the best from them! Almost, all these films have good extras that add great value to the frame. The film Mayir has even used these extras to signify a subtext just by their presence in the frame!

Now, all these aspects where they have succeeded closes to down to one major point. The Pre-production. So, pre-production does not end with script discussion. It’s the entire planning of what’s going to happen in the actual shoot. These include the ones that have discussed above. Only then, the output could be of the ones that are worth talking about! This is something of a very basic necessity which most of us are negligent about!

The takeaways from these films!

Messages aren’t being thrown onto us!

Short filmmakers have evolved. They have evolved in shaping their content according to the audience’s taste. How many of us like messages being thrown on to our face like an advice? We don’t prefer taking that. Infact, scholars believe if a message is being uttered or being advised to the audience by a character in a film, it is bad filmmaking. We’ve spoken on this for a really long time now but did we realise it until now? With some of the films in the first clap season 2 that I watched, the makers have evidently taken this step of not preaching! Watch the film mayir, Kalki and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

The template of a regular short film has been broken!

This is a clear message to all those filmmakers that are reluctant to make films for short duration. It is a proof to them that a film of 3 minutes has its own value. Since, 3 minutes is actually a really less amount of time to make a short film, these makers have opted to experiment with it. Like consider the film cookerku whistle podu. In my opinion, this film is a meme. Yet, it stood out for its unique reasons. There isn’t a story as such. But, the filmmaker had clearly made his mark through it. He has tried out something new in this 3 minutes. This is something that is more important.

These filmmakers don’t aspire to be a feature filmmaker as such.

These makers don’t see feature work as the final stage. In Fact, in the journey to make it big in their feature work, these makers see a new stage for them in this competition. They look at it as a playground to experiment and try out new stuffs. This is something that wasn’t prevalent here until now. Most of the makers that wanted to make it big at feature saw any of the competitions as the start to it. Due to that, the makers ended up making a bit of their feature as a short film and the result was too bad for them. But, these makers I’m talking about don’t see this competition as the start to their feature journey. Once, they start to do that, experimentation ends once for all.

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