Many of today’s leading feature filmmakers got their start by creating a proof of concept short. Take Phil Barantini, Quentin Tarantino and Jennifer Kent as acclaimed directors who started by creating shorts. An ideal opportunity to introduce a filmmaker’s talent, short films are also a way to show prospective funders, audiences, or actors its potential for expansion and development.
First launched in 2019 as a proof of concept short Boiling Point was developed by its Director Phil Barantini into a feature-length film. Released in 2021 to great acclaim, the gripping story of a talented head chef in a high-end London restaurant, and the immense stress he and his team are under, received four BAFTA nominations and 11 nominations at the British Independent Film Awards. The short, impressively shot in a single take, visually demonstrated how the script worked on screen and its potential to expand. In October BBC will be releasing a four-part television series.
Interestingly, the feature script for Whiplash preceded the short, however, Damien Chazelle was struggling to get his film noticed. After being featured on The Black List, a website founded by respected American Film Executive Franklin Leonard, for a year, and then being named as one of the best unmade films of 2012, major producers became interested and Chazelle was encouraged to create the 18-minute proof of concept short film. Going on to win the Sundance Short Film Jury Prize, the feature film was then made and went on to win three Academy Awards in 2015. Securing his place within the filmmaking industry, Chazelle went on to create LA LA Land.
In 2005 filmmaker Jennifer Kent created Monster, a 10-minute, highly stylized, black & white short. Referring to the film as her baby Babadook, Monster set the path for Kent’s 2014 psychological horror film and feature directorial debut which went on to win three Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, receive a number of nominations from international awards – including the Critics Choice Award – and become a cult classic in art-horror.
Originally a 12-minute short made with the help of the Sundance Film Institute back in 1991, the first iteration of Reservoir Dogs paved the way for the titan director’s hallmarks of violent crime, pop culture, and nonlinear storytelling. It’s also interesting to see how Tarantino experiments with camera angles and framing shots - almost as if this was a practice run for the feature-length film, which was made on a modest budget and released one year later and went on to be one of the most critically acclaimed independent films of all time.
Other leading films that started as shorts include Saw, Napoleon Dynamite, The Evil Dead, Boogie Nights, Bottle Rocket, District 9 and Fatal Attraction.
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