Short films are becoming more popular in India because they are easier to produce and have better audience interest, despite the issues that come with them.
Filmmakers in India are hopping on the short film bandwagon and using it as an effective tool to express, explore, and produce with increasing audience interest, thanks to better accessibility and lower cost.
Arun Jammura, director and producer, said, “People are willing to bet on the smaller projects. It is feasible to invest Rs. five to 10 lakhs than investing Rs. 10 crores. In both the scenarios the story is out there, but in the first scenario, it is cost efficient. There is a demand for short films now with the audience willing to watch experimental content.”
According to data, the pandemic has shifted the viewer sentiments with 85 percent of consumers preferring short-format videos and films. A short film is any film that isn’t long enough to be labeled a feature movie. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines it as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.”
“Because it is easier, there is less commitment of resources like time, money, and there are a lot of people out there who want to explain themselves, who have talent but not the space,” added Jamuura.
Mauli Singh, a producer, said that there is less risk involved because short films are made between the budget of Rs. two and 15 lakhs and there is no pressure of recovering that money while there is increased creative freedom.
“The attention span of people has gone down and people are enjoying storytelling in short forms where the movie ends in 10-15 minutes,” she added.
In 2000, the number of short films released stood at 1000 globally, which increased to approximately 8000 short films released each year till 2015. Data from Internet Movie Database (IMDB) lists 15,406 shorts films released from India till date.
Despite the fact that most short films do not pay young and developing actors, performers are still eager to work in short films because of the growing popularity of the medium, said Akshay, an associate at Zavish Sinha Casting agency.
Although there is a growing demand for these films in India, their recognition remains a worry.
“In India there is The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) and Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFF) which now an Oscar Academy Qualifying Festival for Short Film awards but there are not many platforms in India for short films in terms of film festivals,” said Singh.
Manas Ghosh, an assistant professor at Jadavpur University’s department of film studies, agreed that there has been a shift, and that many short and documentary films have been produced in recent years, particularly during the pandemic.
On the flip side, Devashish Makhijha, an Indian director, said that there was a period during 2015-16, when people thought short films would change the game. Short films, on the other hand, never took off and could not dominate the online space.
“I have struggled for ten years with short-films after making four feature films and the only crux here is that you hold onto your freedom,” he added.
Makhija said that the narrative around short-films is yet to change because there is too much content on platforms like Youtube and the good quality short-films are very less. “A lot of content out there is made for consumption by the mass audience and they do not qualify as short films. When you look at the films that are being selected for the major short film festivals across the world, that’s when you realize what really constitutes a short film,” he said.
Makhija further asserted that in India, people will fund a film only if the makers have a well-known face.This defeats the focus of artists and results in films that are severely compromised and fail to reach the public who want to watch something fresh.
Ghosh said that, “Most of the films are made in a very amateurish way but the point here is that short-films and even documentary films are mainly experimental formats unlike feature films and since they are not in institutional formats, one should encourage young filmmakers to experiment.”