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TOPIC: Screening short films

Screening short films 20 Jun 2006 19:56 #12940

I run a film production company which has shot a number of well received and award winning shorts, through festivals and friends we have access to lots more; are independent cinema owners ever interested in showing a short before a feature anymore?

People always say "that's advertising time", but surely having a short to break the adverts up means you could show even more adverts?

I'd love any feedback, here or via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cheers!

Steve Piper www.coffeefilms.com
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Re: Screening short films 21 Jun 2006 20:12 #12941

Sorry, but distribution policies virtually wiped out short films. Along with so many bad shorts in the 70s.

I often wonder about the Academy's Short films awards. Where are those films. Why acknowledge a category that we don't see?
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Re: Screening short films 21 Jun 2006 21:36 #12942

  • Cinemateer
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This is an excellent question, one I've wondered about myself. Showing a short before the feature would also add extra value to the high ticket price (or "perceived" high price, I should say). You could even advertise as such. There would be a little effort on the exhibitors in attempting to match the short style to the feature (you wouldn't want to show a dramatic love story short in front of 'Cars', for instance).

I don't know about distribution policies, but Pixar shows hilarious short animations now before every film... every PIXAR film, of course. But that at least tells me that there is a general interest by the viewers to see shorts.

In Steve's case, for myself, I would love to see "How To Disappear Completely", but it appears there are only a handful of festivals in the US throughout the year. Surely there isn't a lot of money in the budget for much advertising or additional distribution channels.

I think the interest is there for exhibitors, but it is possible that some lame distribution policy might be the culprit. You would think that if a person owns a theater themselves, they could show whatever they want.

I would love to hear more information about this from the old-timers here.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Screening short films 22 Jun 2006 07:32 #12943

An independent cinema in the US that contacted me by email mentioned the Oscar shorts and said they were distributed through Apollo Cinema, I agree I have seen very few Oscar shorts, mostly just the UK ones.

I agree with Cinemateer especially for arthouse/indie focused cinemas I think many customers would enjoy short films as long as the quality was good (there are plenty of awful shorts I'm very happy to admit).

C is also right in that shorts don't have an advertising budget; How to Disappear's actual cost was just £500, with cast and crew working for free in the interests of expanding their experience and getting exposure through festivals. So individual shorts couldn't really do much more than supply exhibitors with some posters and flyers, the audience would just have to be into the idea of a short showing rather than wanting to see any one particular short; I still think this can work if the quality remains high, people know they'll get something good and maybe a little different they've never seen before.

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Re: Screening short films 22 Jun 2006 12:08 #12944

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Theoretically, we theater owners can show whatever we want. But, if you book a film into your theater the distribution company essentially owns that screen for the length of the run. They are the ones who tell us whether we are allowed to run anything else at all in there. I haven't asked about shorts since they are not really available to me but if they were I am afraid the answer would be No. We are scrutinised regularly by checkers who report what we are showing on the screen to the distributors so we are not likely to break policy. The showing of trailers, slide based advertising and rolling stock ads is actually all in a gray area. It seems that whether the lights are up or down at the time of the showing determines whether it is permitted or not depending upon the distributor. Disney specifically does not permit rolling stock ads prior to exhibition of their films. The only reason that there are shorts on the front of Pixar films is because Disney wants and insists that they be shown. They threatened us all in a letter with contract violations if we messed with either their short or their attached trailers on the front of Cars. So unfortunately, it is Distribution that has caused the death of the market for short films. We would need an entire feature length program of shorts which would be booked in as a regular film in the current market conditions.
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Re: Screening short films 22 Jun 2006 14:39 #12945

Wow, majors have no end of cunning contracts do they?

So I should also ask whether many people think a 90 minute program of high quality shorts (maybe all major festival winners for example; Sundance, Cannes, Edinburgh) would sell enough tickets to put on, maybe a special event once a month, target some promotion to local film schools, arts organisations etc?
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Re: Screening short films 22 Jun 2006 20:21 #12946

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I ran a program of shorts here but attendance sucked big time. It didn't work here but that's not to say it won't work elsewhere.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Screening short films 22 Jun 2006 22:57 #12947

Here in Oz, the majors did a campaign a few decades ago advertising "No more boring shorts."

Of course, they replaced the boring shorts with boring commercials.

Unfortunately, the campaign was successful in making shorts public enemy number one.
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Re: Screening short films 27 Jun 2006 15:01 #12948

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We (lsc.mit.edu) still run shorts sometimes. As with any other material, audience reaction varies depending on the content. People generally seem to prefer humorous and lively shorts that run less than 10 minutes (closer to 5 is better). The hardest part for us is finding shorts that are available on 35mm.
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Re: Screening short films 05 Jul 2006 17:33 #12949

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BECKWITH1 posted, in part: Theoretically, we theater owners can show whatever we want. But, if you book a film into your theater the distribution company essentially owns that screen for the length of the run. They are the ones who tell us whether we are allowed to run anything else at all in there.
None of the exhibitor agreements that I've seen/signed from any of the majors has restricted our ability to show shorts with lights down, so long as they're not advertisements.
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Re: Screening short films 06 Jul 2006 08:16 #12950

  • Pieman
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We have an independant in Australia and have tried time and time again to get shorts. We have spoken to all sorts of companies who say they will get us a list of whats available..but we never hear back. Its frustrating as we do have the sort of audiences who would love to see shorts before films or even a compilation of shorts, but we can't get them
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Re: Screening short films 06 Jul 2006 08:20 #12951

Can you screen digitally or would it have to be 35mm?
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Re: Screening short films 07 Jul 2006 04:44 #12952

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We can run digitally in our largest cinema. The other 2 had video projectors, but they died and we haven't replaced them yet!!
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Re: Screening short films 07 Jul 2006 08:51 #12953

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Eastgate in Madison Wi played all of the Oscar nominated shorts as one feature about 3 months ago. It is part of the Marcus Corp. Would assume they have an in house booker. Notsure how they managed it.
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Re: Screening short films 11 Jul 2006 09:58 #12954

Well this question has thrown up some interesting information and some surprisingly positive interest, I'm happy to say I'm even sending a few DVDs out and just wanted to say, if there are any other cinemas out there who might like to give shorts a try out (DVD only unfortunately) drop me a line and I'll happily send you a few to check out;

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Thanks everyone!

Steve
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