Producer Joey Horvitz believes that short films are in the midst of a creative renaissance, both spurred and served by social video.
“We only have a limited amount of attention, and things like Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube are blowing up because they have bite-sized pieces of content,” Horvitz told VideoInk.
Horvitz should know. For more than three years, he’s been scouring the film festival circuit, searching worthy candidates to invite to participate in the Lexus Short Films series, co-sponsored by The Weinstein Company.
With the third annual edition, which kicked off last month, Horvitz has it a little easier because the filmmakers are now coming to him. For the first time, Lexus Short Films has opened up the competition to people from around the globe, with only a handful of restrictions — entrants cannot have made a feature film, and they must either be a current film student or have made a film that has competed in a festival.
Through October 25, filmmakers can submit short films of two to 20 minutes in length via the Lexus Short Films web site and Withoutabox, a video hosting platform used to deliver submissions to film festivals.
“Withoutabox is the perfect entity to handle our submissions, because this is essentially like a film festival,” Horvitz said. “The only difference is we’re not programming films. We’re actually giving away money for filmmakers to make a brand new piece of content.”
A selection of the top entrants will be asked to submit treatments or scripts exploring the theme “anticipation.” (Last year’s theme was “life is amazing.”) Four filmmakers will be selected to write and direct a short film produced by The Weinstein Company based on their ideas. They will also receive a first-look deal with The Weinstein Company, as well as an at-home filmmaking and editing suite. The winners will be announced at the closing ceremonies of the Napa Valley Film Festival in Northern California on November 15.
Last year’s films, “Market Hours” and “Operation Barn Owl,” competed in over 25 major film festivals around the world and racked up millions of views on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and other video platforms. This year’s shorts will be shown before promotional screenings of Weinstein Company films and make a similar tour of the festival circuit.
Horvitz said there is no mandate for the filmmakers to feature the cars in their shorts.
“We’re kind of going back to the old advertising method were TV shows were ‘sponsored by Geritol,’ but Geritol had nothing to do with the show that was playing,” said Horvitz, who has produced every short made in the series. “I know I’m not watching commercials. Brands know that, and they need to find another way to connect with consumers, so short film is the perfect medium.” Lexus is a luxury brand, “and cinephiles and the people that attend film festivals are people of that demographic.”