In an era where the average attention span of someone on the internet is only a few seconds, feature length films only hold our attention if it has a big name and action attached to it. Few people will watch a movie just for the sake of watching it, and this is especially true of documentaries. Thanks to various social media platforms however, short films are enjoying a vogue on the internet. With some much opportunity and so many people doing it however, it is hard to stand out from the herd. Here are some suggestions on how you can change your films to be more different.
Bypass the Smooth Editing Phase
While it may make for choppy and difficult viewing, the DIY look in any video feels more authentic, and will hold the attention of an audience – as long as the theme is also interesting. When you are filming, don’t worry about long, smooth pan shots that take in everything around you; use an old camera and just live in the moment. When editing, leave in some of the places where the camera bobbed up and down or shook in your hand. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the message of your film, it will help differentiate it from all the smoothly cut, professional looking films that smack of paid editing.
Cheat the Expectations of the Viewer
Everyone walks into watching a film with preconceived expectations and notions, such as ‘a documentary will be boring’ or ‘a homemade movie will not look professional.’ Subvert these expectations and keep the viewer at the edge of his/her seat by making even a home movie look professional. For instance, use a phantom drone drone to film wide landscape scenes that mimic the wide panned shots taken by big studios using cameras mounted on helicopters.
Drones such as the helpful dji ronin m allow the user to change the settings in air via Bluetooth and adjust colour and filter settings, helping the film to look professional while using amateur equipment.
Play with Form
Not all short films have to stick to a pre ordered format; changing it will once again subvert audience expectation and maybe even create something new. For instance, you can start off by filming in colour and then switch to gray scale in the middle where the message of the short film really needs to come through; this will prevent any distractions and force the audience to focus on the message as it will be given in stark black and white. Or start off like a normative, linear film with a narrative and then break the fourth wall constantly by satirizing the conventions of that particular form. For instance, a monologue can be peppered with interruptions and addresses to the audience.