In Short

Sometimes they seem like the overlooked little siblings of the movie family, but short films need nurturing just like their feature-length counterparts. Fortunately, there are some exciting opportunities out there right now for shorts;  if you’re in the process of making one, these avenues might help shepherd it towards a successful future:

1.Focus Forward Film Challenge

This initiative is offering cash prizes of up to $100,000 and lots of exposure for 30 selected 3-minute films themed around innovation; guidelines state that submitted films should “highlight exceptional people and world-changing ideas that are impacting the course of human development, changing our lives for the better.” Focus Forward is partnering with major festivals like IFDA, Sundance, Sheffield Doc Fest and Tribeca and lots of high-profile directors; the first 9 films are already online here. It all seems very ritzy, but it’s an open call challenge so anyone can enter a film – submissions are due August 23rd.

2.Cinereach Reach Fellowship

With new support from the Ford Foundation, from 2012 onward Cinereach’s Reach Fellowship “will be dedicated to providing an ideal environment for new voices in filmmaking to create vital, artful short films.” Combining mentorship and funding, this fellowship is an inspiring means of support for emerging filmmakers – check out the blog posts written by previous fellows to get an idea of what the fellowship has to offer and what it requires.

3. Sundance Shortslab

Maybe not as fairy-godmother-esque a proposition as getting a staggering check, sure, but the ShortsLabs have some interesting content on offer for short-film makers (I’m trying to do some grammar tricks here; people of all heights are obviously welcome). Happening this summer in New York, LA and Seattle, the ShortsLabs are educational seminars meant “to offer firsthand insight and access into the world of story development, production, and exhibition of narrative short-form storytelling.” It’s a chance to learn and network in a feature-free environment. This lab is primarily focused on narrative films.

4.Hammer to Nail Monthly short film contest

Since early this year, has been running a monthly short film contest with a rotating roster of judges. It’s $30 to enter, all genres are welcome, and the winners and runners-up get some very useful festival fee waivers and nice write-up about their film (this month’s contest is a student challenge).  Possibly worth throwing a hat into the ring if you have a film that runs under 20 minutes.

This season at The DocYard, along with the feature line-up we’re showing some prime examples of spontaneous short filmmaking with Alex Jablonski’s Sparrow Songs, films he made as part of a project with cinematographer Michael Totten in which they made 12 films over the course of a year. The only rules were to make one each month and that none could be shorter than 3 minutes.

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