Why Filmmakers Turn to Short Films to Achieve Their Vision (Video)

“It’s about disrupting a model,” Amy Emmerich, Chief Content Officer of Refinery29, said at TheWrap’s Shorts Panel Wednesday.

Making a film is already an immense undertaking, but for short film creators, finding distribution and a platform to reach audiences is a particular challenge.

For the artists, talent and distributors on TheWrap’s Shorts Panel at the Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles Wednesday night, meeting that challenge was about finding the right people to enact their vision.

“It’s about disrupting a model,” said Amy Emmerich, Chief Content Officer of Refinery29, which distributed two of the presented short films, “Lucia, Before and After” and Kristen Stewart’s “Come Swim.” “Sometimes a story can be told in many different lengths, and you just need the right amount of time for that story.”

“There’s more room for experimentation,” producer David Ethan Shapiro told TheWrap’s Matt Donnelly. “You can focus on one idea and really explore it. There are not formal expectations like there are for a feature. So for our film, I think we were able to pursue something more abstract and focus in on it.”

Anu Valia, director of Sundance 2017 Short Film Jury Award-winner “Lucia, Before and After,” lauded her relationship with Refinery29. Her film about what a woman does in the 24 hours as she waits to get an abortion was something that fit the voice of Refinery29’s “Shatterbox” anthology championing female directors.

“Every company will have a new directive and will shift their focus in terms of what they want to make,” Valia said. “I think what people respond to is a really direct vision and voice. Sometimes my voice has not gelled with other companies, but they’ll come back and say, ‘we really liked your idea.’ So I think people respond to someone who has a specific vision for what you want to do.”

Director Ryan Egypt, whose slick thriller “Chasing Titles, Vol. 1” has the look and feel of a slick, Hollywood feature, said the short format gave him surprising freedom.

“It wasn’t about doing a feature or a short, it was about telling this story, and I can tell it in this amount of time,” Egypt said. “It just made sense to choose this medium. So I just went with it and wanted to push the envelope with this film.”

Finding the right audience was of the utmost importance to the team behind “Ladies First,” director Uraaz Bahl and producer Shaana Levy’s documentary about Indian archery champion Deepika Kumari and how India’s cultural mindset toward women makes female athletes feel inferior on the global stage.

“For us, we really wanted the pace of the film to feel energetic, because we wanted the film to be shown in a lot of schools. We wanted children to have the capacity to be able to watch it and absorb it,” Levy said. “In a short, you can make a difference and change people’s lives in a short amount of time.”