Blog: Laura Smith

One of the team behind Hull Film Festival writes about the growing popularity of short films in a digital age

Hero image

Every moment that passes is another moment in which the amount of art and culture created surpasses what anyone can reasonably expect to consume in their lifetime.

Once, it was possible to go to the Blockbusters store down the road, or to the local library, and commit to borrowing every film they had in a particular genre. It might take a while, but it could be done. And then the internet came along and turned everything on its head. Where we once had directors living and breathing Hollywood, we suddenly had them popping up worldwide, and in the most unexpected locations.

Directors are no longer middle-aged men, reclining casually on their set chair, shouting out instructions to a cast and production team. Directors are everywhere. There might be one next to you on the bus tomorrow morning, or queuing up behind you for a pint of milk. They are in our city, on our street, in the bedroom of that noisy house with the teen kids always lurking around. The internet has turned the film industry into an open invitation to create and, as a result, it is no longer consumable on an achievable basis, and this is where opportunity has crept in.

Short films are growing. They’re gaining momentum and fast. In a world where we have too much choice, where the “what to watch next” list on Netflix is at 200 hours and growing, audiences are turning to shorts to keep them in touch with an ever changing artistic landscape.

The political upheaval of recent years has meant there are so many things to say and, with so many ways to say them and so many people to speak, time is being carefully spent on the films that allow these bedroom directors to get their message out there fast.

In the UK City of Culture, the Hull Film Festival has committed no fewer than three events to short films this year, one of which is a showcase talent from those breaking through into the industry.

The festival has seen more entries of short films this year than ever before. The subjects aren’t always political, but politics and the consumable nature of our media has sped things up for filmmakers and audiences alike and, where there is appetite to be fed, filmmakers are creating bitesize chunks, leaving viewers seeking out more and more.

Is quantity reducing quality? Far from it. When filmmakers find themselves in a world of competition, they have to outdo themselves time and time again to stay relevant, and they are reaping the benefits of this surge of effort with audiences ready to reward them with ticket sales and screen time.

Film festivals all over the world are giving up more screenings to short films. Organisations like the Guardian and Sundance Institute are providing new platforms for filmmakers, while the touring release of BAFTA shorts gains momentum and value each year.

2017 is a time like no other to begin an adventure in film. Where the media has created journalists out of every citizen, everyone now has a story to tell, and their own unique way of telling it.

Film is one of those surprising industries where decades of experience will still leave you with room to learn something new, and similarly debut filmmakers are taking the spotlight time and time again. While short films are growing, so is opportunity. Competitions to find the newest and best filmmakers are increasing, so it’s time to take your ideas and begin storytelling.

The BAFTA shorts are being screened at Hull Film Festival on 4 July (

Main image: still from the short film Home

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Blog: Laura Smith

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.