Codes and Conventions of Short Film

Length:
Most commonly between 3-20 minutes but sometimes around 40 minutes.
Examples of short film lengths:
For the Birds – 3min 25sec

Storyline:
Usually simple, easy to follow and based over a short amount of time. The narrative is usually condensed with limited dialogue as characters will be developed through images and actions.
Example:
Open 24 Hours

Characters:
Usually 1-3 characters as because of the time being limited in a short film so creating back stories and developing characters is challenging. The audience will not be bombarded with new characters or information. Short films will usually last only long enough to connect the audience to some characters.
Example:

Twist:
A twist is a common convention but not a rule so isn’t followed by every short film. A twist will allow the film maker to have an interesting storyline. Moreover, because of the length of the film it will also reveal fewer clues about the ending so is harder to guess and the twist is therefore more likely to shock the audience.
Example of a plot twist:

Budget:
Budgets are usually small as many short films are made by new film makers or ones that have little funding.
Example:
Many short films are made by students or people who make short films as a hobby and therefore have a limited budget, if they even have one.
The director of this short film stated “This film was shot on a budget of $0.” in the description of the video.

Creativity: 
Short films allow more creativity and abstraction, they are usually made up of many creative shots and audio to create an artistic and unique piece. Directors or film makers have the chance to create their own signature look on the piece as there is less pressure to make a profitable film for a large audience.
Example:
This short film is filmed with one continuous shot, the camera just pans around the characters.

Niche Audience:
Short films have a lot smaller and niche audience than mainstream due to the creative nature, length and simple storyline. Furthermore, many people aren’t aware of short films as they aren’t advertised as much as mainstream films, despite their easy accessibility to watch online in places such as YouTube.
Example:
Piper has a very simple story line due to being aimed at children.

Emotion:
Short films convey strong emotion such as: laughter, pleasure, sadness or anger, sometimes making comments on morals or society in the process. Short films can be more powerful as they can get the audience thinking about a particular topic or make something appear differently to how it is without having the time to think while watching, thus leaving them to contemplate after the film has finished.

Online Distribution:
Unlike mainstream film, short films are largely accessible for free through the internet. There are many sites who distribute short films online from independent to established sites such as the BBC. Short films are rarely shown in cinemas or on TV so online is the best way to distribution but some can be bought on DVD but very few. As short film is based much more on creativity and expression rather than mainstream and profit, it is much more important for the film maker to reach a wide audience and distribute films to them for free.
Examples of where they’re available:
– YouTube
– Sky Store
– Various online steaming websites

Opposition to Mainstream:
Many of these codes and conventions are different to the mainstream film codes and conventions due to short films holding an entirely different format and style and short films most commonly try to give the audience a different outlet to mainstream films.

Reference: https://naomishortfilm.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/codes-conventions-of-short-film/

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