SHORTS ARE DUMB… 6 REASONS (You’ll Love #4 “Awards” & #6 “Money”)


Let’s Cut-To-The-Chase: Want to make money making movies?

I’m sure the answer is “Yes” or “Yep” and if you’re from England you’d answer “Blimey…I didn’t know you could” and if from Australia your mates would go “Good on you”.

Now back to money: Wanna make money making movies… Then DON’T MAKE A BLOODY SHORT.

Question: Why?

Answer: RTFB (Read The F*ckin’ Blog)

FILM SHOOT-3 Back to “6 Reasons Not To Make A Short”.

(1st) CREW:

You work with kids. Professionals want to be paid.

What do you think you’ll learn with college kids?

Yeah, they’re young. Yeah, they’re energetic. And, yeah, they don’t know what they’re doing. What you learn is who doesn’t show up, who shows up but forgot to bring the camera, who didn’t call the actor, who ran out of gas, who forgot the mikes, who can’t hold a Boom steady… the list goes on.

Make a movie and work with professionals.


In the old days shooting Film (16mm or 35mm) was mysterious and you needed to learn how to Buy Film Stock (Kodak or Fuji, Buybacks, Recans & Ends), Load a Magazine (Arriflex or Panavision, S-Roll or 9-Roll), Expose Film (ASA & ISO, Filters & Gels), Develop Film (Print Circle Takes only), Edit Film (Slice & Splice), Color-Correct Film (Make the sky bluer and the skin whiter) & Cut Film for your Final Answer Print…

Ergo, in the old days you actually had to shoot a short or two to learn how to get to your final product. Today, everything is instant. The learning curve is almost instant. Just find a kid at BestBuy or Fryes who has a GoPro, a Blackmagic or an iPhone, and start shooting.

Thus, with little-to-no learning curve, make a movie… Miracles do happen. (“Blair Witch”, “PI”, “Paranormal Activity”, “Clerks”


You will work much harder making a 9-minute short with multiple locations, wardrobe, stunts, Exteriors, Interiors, Car Chases, Graphics, VFX & Stunts than if you made a 90-minute movie that tales place in 1-location (House, Bordello, Bar, School, etc) and when done, if all you have is a short that you can barely get your mother (she funded it) to view it. What’s the point.

However, if you have a 90-minute movie you can screen for Agents, Acquisition Execs, On-Demand Sites, Foreign Sale Companies, Home Video Distributors… Voilla…

Make a movie… More Bang-Per-Buck.

(4th) AWARDS:

Win awards? Big deal? They are not as important as you may think and never-ever work with an “Award Winning” filmmaker.

Question: Why?

Answer: Festivals give awards to almost everyone who paid an entrance fee and Festival directors/programmers love shorts.

Festival Directors put 10-15 together for a 90-minute projection and sell 20-50 tickets to each producer for his cast, crew, relatives (10-15 shorts xs 20-50 tickets = 200-750 ticket sold) & friends.

Thus, almost everyone becomes an “Award Winning” Filmmaker and within the industry the phrase “Award Winning Filmmaker” has very little merit.

However, if someone wins an award at Sundance do they say “They’re an Award-Winning Filmmaker”?

NO! Because they know that means little… They say “They’re a Sundance-Winner”…

Thus, when anyone claims “Award-Winning” they’re saying they made something that couldn’t get into Sundance, Cannes, Toronto or even Tribeca and has no merit.

Duh? Make a Movie.


Making a short and then making a feature (see below article by Mark Stirton) is like learning to play Ping Pong and then entering Wimbledon. You only learn how to play tennis by playing tennis.

And to play tennis (aka: Hollywood) you need to know how to tell a story… Shorts have 1 A-Story with maybe 1 Backstory that evolves simply.

A Feature Film has 1 A-Story, 3 B-Stories and 4-5 Backstories which are all tied together for a mature Act III with a proper crisis, a thrilling cut-to-the-chase & a satisfying resolution… with a nice epilogue.

Please, Make a Movie.

(6th) MONEY:

You will go broke. No one buys shorts.

Thus, you spend your money and can’t recoup. Of the 500,000-1,000,000 shorts made last year name me 3 (animation doesn’t count) that sold… and made profits.

Therefore, the only thing you show anyone by making a short is that you know how to go broke.

Duh! Make a Movie


New DVD (My DVD Film School teaches how to make Micro-Budget & Low-Budget movies for $1,000-$1,000,000 that make profits….


(Below is an article written by a doer, a self taught Scottish Filmmaker who made shorts and feature films. He, Mark Stirton, writes from the school-of-hard-knocks and wants to help you save time and money by not repeating his mistakes about shorts)


All Short films suck. Bit of a sweeping statement? Didn’t George Lucas and Martin Scorsese direct short films? They did indeed, and they sucked. In the case of Scorsese, the only time he ever got really pretentious was with a short film. It is a format that invites pretension, practically survives off it actually. I myself have directed several short films before I wised up and became a real filmmaker. Did my short films suck? Fuck yeah.

Now I must be honest here and confess to a certain personal issue I have with short films; I keep having to sit through the bastard creations! You see, the films that I direct frequently get screened at film festivals. Which is lovely and fine. However, ten minutes before many of the screenings I get introduced to some rosy faced little git that someone (not me) has decided to let screen his or her short film, before my one. Then I have to sit through this god forsaken, black and white, endurance test of a movie.

This is such a no-win scenario for a festival attending feature director. If the short film is crap, the audience will spend the first 10 minutes of my film trying to shake the damn thing off. Or worse, if the short film is fantastic, they spend the first ten minutes thinking about the short film they’ve just watched. I don’t want that! I want those thoughts provoked when I’m good and ready, not during the important opening minutes of my film.

I should point out that this second scenario has never in fact happened to me yet, because, all short films suck. Admittedly this argument doesn’t work for film festivals devoted to just short films, but no large group of men armed with weighty metal bars with nasty pointy bits welded onto the end has ever been around to force me into going to such an event.

But I have a much deeper reason for hating short films and everything to do with them. It’s a dirty little secret that the BFI and anyone else funding short films won’t tell you, but it’s true.

People get very confused about short films. Hell, the industry seems confused and since I’ve directed both forms several times now I’ll spell it out. It’s not the same sport! It looks the same, but that’s all. It’s a bit like training someone for years to play Ping-Pong then entering them into Wimbledon. They might look the same… a ball, a net, a playing area, but that’s it. They only look the same. I can’t express to you the aggravation in my soul when I finished my first feature length project, only to realize that all those short film I’d directed, meant absolutely nothing when making a feature film. Worse, they can actually be detrimental if you pick up bad short filmmaking habits, and I did.

But it gets worse. The cash strapped UK film industry actually spends hundreds of thousands of pounds funding this worthless dribble. I suppose the theory is that if you learn how to control a short film, it will in some way prepare you to direct a real film. Trouble is, directing feature films doesn’t even prepare you for the next one. But don’t we need to teach the new generation, some traditionalist will no-doubt ask. Well yes, but do we have to teach them Ping-Pong? If I didn’t know better I’d suggest that it’d lead to a generation of British directors who would struggle adapting to the feature length format and we’d end up with nothing but American films dominating… the… UK… box-office… Hang on!!

Short film funding was useful once, a long time ago. Before 4K edit suites could fit into a lunchbox and good quality cameras were something you’d only see if you were very wealthy indeed. Those days are gone. They’ve been gone for quite some time now actually, but we still continue throwing money at God awful short films that teach nothing, prove nothing, waste money and annoy the smeg out of me at film festivals.

OK big mouth, how do we change things then? Well it’s simple. No more short films. No more funding for short films. Spending 100.000 on a short film that will get no distribution, teach nothing, bore the crap out of people and annoy Marky, is not what we should be doing. And if you’re a director spending that sort of cash, on a short film, you should be ashamed. Grow a set and direct a feature. And if you really, really need to direct a short film, it better be a bloody original idea! It better be this generations ‘La Cabina’, cos I’ve sat through too many shameless rip-off to take much more. Oh, and if your idea features Zombies just do me a favour, buy a blindfold, put it on, then walk into rush hour traffic.

And it’s for your own good as well. None of my short films made a penny, didn’t teach me anything (well practically anything. Turns out that certain levels of violence directed towards actors can actually be interpreted as assault) and worse, taught me some bad directorial habits that simply don’t transfer well to the feature length format. But the second I created a feature film? IMDB listing, distribution, US certification, oh and money. That’s right folks, British films can make money! Who knew? And if I’d known now, what I knew then, I’d have made a feature film 5 years earlier and saved a heap of time and pointless effort on a redundant form that rarely, and I mean very rarely, manages to entertain. If it still has a place, it’s in schools. Creating a short film at school would be thrilling I imagine. Great place for short films – created by short people.


(Raindance is a superb UK Film Festival in London around November where European buyers actually buy/purchase/option shorts… give it a shot… Plus, you might stumble into being invited for BIFA)

So, in closing, take all that money spent on short films and give it to directors willing to only make a feature film. And any directors convinced that a feature film can’t be made for that small an amount of cash, well that’s OK, we don’t need those guys. Let them go off and wait for the right huge budget to realise their presumably expensive vision. The rest of us can make movies. If this actually came to pass, you’d have a line of directors round the block ready to reinvigorate the stagnant, backwards looking, stuck in the mud, visionless UK film industry.

You can call me after it’s done and thank me.

Mark Stirton Mark Stirton is a self taught Scottish film director based in Aberdeen Scotland. He is well known for his Raindance selected cult comedy One Day Removals which was made for a very small budget and for the sci-fi movie The Planet, which was released on DVD in the USA and Japan.  Check out Mark’s next film production website Hats On Sticks

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7 comments on “SHORTS ARE DUMB… 6 REASONS (You’ll Love #4 “Awards” & #6 “Money”)”

  1. joe sixpak says:

    most films suck
    so i am glad that they are short 🙂
    shoudl i be forced to watch any of them
    like my nephews 🙂

    please elaborate on A 3B and back stories
    and how they get connected in act 3

    pls give example of a movie with that
    better point to a chart that outlines how they fit
    best show a way to do them easily so they work well
    (i am thinking like that seinfeld template so anyone could write a seinfeld with a couple of situations)

  2. Hello says:

    Dov, can you make a movie breakdown (you choose the movie:) and to explain what do you mean by 3 b stories, 4-5 backstories, how they get connected? I can find an ‘A-story’ in every movie, but how do you know what’s 3b and so on? Your dumb student

  3. Chris says:

    I couldn’t disagree with this more. I’ll hit it point by point.

    1) Crew: It’s true you’ll usually work with people (aka “kids”) with little to no experience and varying degrees of dedication, professionalism and reliability. However, there’s plenty of shorts made with professionals, or people with the right dedication. Surround yourself with the right people, you won’t experience any issues. It’s also good training, you can learn so much by working with other people. To put it in perspective, one of the worst experiences I ever had was making a short film with 14 other people. While every minute of it sucked, I took away so much that it made me a better filmmaker.

    2) Equipment: Just because it’s instant, doesn’t mean there’s not a learning curve. This might be the most illogical “reason” in his list. You still have to learn equipment. I’m still learning my equipment.

    3) Bang per Buck: Anyone who’s using multiple locations for a short film is complicating matters. It’s a short story, it doesn’t need more than one or two locations. The author also seems to think the only reason to make a film is to make money, some people do it because we enjoy making movies.

    4) Awards: Really? I mean, sure, it’s nice to get recognized for your efforts at some sort of festival. The author is wrong, though, I’ve entered plenty of festivals and never received an award (some I have). Just because you pay a fee doesn’t get you an award, as the author states. Although if you seriously go around calling yourself an “award-winning filmmaker” then your idiot (or you’re just being cheeky).

    5) Storytelling: This is tied with the equipment statement as the dumbest thing on this list. The length of a story is as long as the storyteller wants it to be. Not all stories require a B-story, 4-5 backstories, or even a crisis. That’s why short films exist, to tell short stories.

    6 Money: If someone is making a short film in hope they’ll make money, then they’re an idiot. However, short films can lead to a career. Look at Wes Anderson, Mike Judge, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, John Lasseter, Tim Burton, George Lucas or Neill Blomkamp (just to name a few).

    Short films won’t make money. That’s about the only thing the author gets right in this piece. Short films are designed to showcase talent, abilities, technology and concepts. They can be conduits for bigger and better things, think of them as a resume. But this arrogant prick condemns all short films as dumb.

    I think the author is the one that’s dumb.

    1. dan says:

      Chris; I AGREE one hundred percent. MY small film crew has been together for two years and we run like clockwork. Some of the best films I have seen were shorts. I have entered plenty of film fests, have been chosen as an entrant, but have never won. My feeling was being chosen was OK for me, awards collect dust, and it encourages me to try harder. AND the biggest reason SHORTS MATTER. I can do anything idea I want.

  4. James Pendergast says:

    Most people should not either be making shorts or wearing them. I never wanted to make a short; only write screenplays, teleplays and TV series. That’s good enough for me, though marketing gets harder and harder; therefore, many writers are trying to produce their scripts themselves and sometimes succeeding.

  5. Dan says:

    Shorts are good cause you could make 3-5 min worth of crap or 90. Take your pick.

    But the more you make the better filmmaker you become. I think the assumption is a Feature has a better chance of getting picked up then a short. But does that mean better at being good? I don’t check Mandy anymore but they used to list all them there. Like the land of unwanted toys but all feature films. lol Nobody wanted them. Either way you have to get experience with your equipment and become self-reliant or fail. Even Tarantino admits his first Feature was crap. He then wrote a script and got workshopped at Sundance if I am correct.

  6. Henry Larry says:

    Great breakdown of the pitfalls of shorts. The emphasis on storytelling in features and the potential for more significant returns make a compelling case for aspiring filmmakers to focus on creating longer more immersive content.
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