Guts? Time? Money? Creativity? Talent?
Nah, just some form of recording device and the ability to hit the record button. Just look at youTube – go on do it. You know you want to get sucked into the giant media noise whirlpool that is youTube. Millions of people are doing it everyday. Uploading their wedding videos or vacation videos for all their friends to see, or the random collection of images set to their favorite Dave Matthews song and lets not start talking about the cat videos or god help us the random fad of the moment from gangnam style to the harlem shake…
Wait did you think I meant a good short film? Oh…. well then we should be looking on Vimeo right? Ha, one service is just like another -full of content, full of noise. There has never been a time like now, where ANYONE can be a film maker. Once the camera became portable all that was missing was a distribution source widely accessible by the world and boooooommmm!!! Welcome to the media noise of the 21st century. Thank you internet.
So what does it take, really? Have you figured it out yet? It’s simple really, all of those millions of people posting their films up on youTube have it figured, most of them don’t even realize that they are making films. But before I give it to you lets ask ourselves what is a film or better yet let’s call it what they used to call it a motion picture, you’ll see why in a second.
Dictionary.com (god I love the internet) defines it as -
1. A sequence of consecutive pictures of objects photographed in motion by a specially designed camera (motion-picture camera) and thrown on a screen by a projector (motion-picture projector) in such rapid succession as to give the illusion of natural movement.
Most people wouldn’t call the noise on youTube – films or motion pictures for that matter but technically by definition they are just that. So if we all agree that the media you see on youTube is by definition moving pictures but not necessarily film – what exactly then would be the current definition of film? What makes a film more than just a collection of moving images? What’s the difference between a film, movie, and video? Semantics really, but important semantics.
I think it can be argued that culturally we associate the term video with low-end, cheap do it yourself types of entertainment -ie home video, or video rental-they are things to be had easily by all. Where as with movie it harkens to theatrical, fun, entertainment only in select areas. We think of summer movies, and the by-gone era of drive-in movies, horror movies, comedies, etc. Where as film takes us way back-back to a time where it was art. An analog, celluloid process projected in small art houses for a treasured few. The very word film makes us think artsy, dramatic, special.
Films are for small groups of people, tailored to their tastes or those who share similar tastes to the film makers. Movies are for the general public, the consumer. Videos – well anybody will watch that trash. There is a reason they still call them film festivals and not video festivals. Or why we choose to call ourselves film makers and not video makers. See my point? By simply calling it a film, we elevate the perceived value of the film even before creating it. This also invariably can cause the film maker to impose a certain level of unrealistic expectations upon himself regarding the films quality and impact on society as a work of art, thereby causing a significant amount of completion anxiety to occur. More on this concept in later posts -for now back on topic.
So at the core it takes three things to make a film, movie or a video (you’ll find that three’s are a pattern with me) -
Motivation – something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do acertain thing, etc.; incentive.
Expression – to set forth the opinions, feelings, etc., of oneself, as in speaking, writing, or painting.
Production - the act of producing; creation; manufacture.
Technically when you look over most youTube videos, these three things exist. Yes even the cat-tastic, gangnam dancing wacko who wants you to pay attention to him doing inane, silly stuff. They all are motivated, expressive, and definitely have production, but most of them we wouldn’t call a film. So there must be something extra – something more. Three things actually (come on you knew that was coming didn’t you? Don’t lie. ) and they work as a range involving the analytical depth of each of the three categories – motivation, expression, production.
Casual - happening by chance; without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand
Common - widespread; general; ordinary
Critical - containing careful or analytical evaluations
So the range of analytical depth goes from casual to common to critical. I would argue that casual is equal to what we call video, common is equal to what we call movies and critical is equal to what we call film. Keep in mind that this range is not associated with quality or entertainment value but simply designed to help us to clearly identify the differences.
Q: So what does it take to make a short film?
A: A critical look at one’s motivation, expression, and production when designing a short duration moving picture.
Now that we have that established we can begin to muse upon next weeks update – Why is your film animated?