Short Form Cinema is a modern form of visual storytelling that conveys stories, ideas, sentiment & tone using moving images, sound & dialogue.
Short Form Cinema (sometimes referred to as short form media or short form video) is a scripted and crafted form of visual storytelling. It maximizes the use of moving images via live action or animation, music, sound and dialogue.
Think: HAIKU for cinema
Short Form Cinema has a beginning – middle – end. It can be a standalone piece or a limited series.
Short Form Cinema has a run-time greater than 15 seconds and less than 3~5 mins. It is used to tell complex scripted stories (comedy, romance, sci-fi, drama – any genre).
- A Short Form Cinema piece has a run-time (run-length) greater than 15 seconds and less than 3 minutes.
- A collection of Short Form Cinema pieces that tell one story is a Short Form Cinema Limited Series.
- Limited Series can be of varying lengths. Each ‘episode/chapters’ can be varying lengths from one another.
2. STORY STRUCTURE
- A Short Form Cinema piece must have a beginning – middle – end.
- A Short Form Cinema Limited Series (compendium) tells one story and must have a beginning – middle – end. *Note: Stranger Things tells one story versus X-Files tells different stories with one theme & motif.
- Short Form Cinema does not rely on the traditional ‘story arc’ convention.
- Climax & Resolution can exist anywhere in the runtime (in the beginning, middle or end).
- Short Form Cinema does not need all of the conventional story structure elements.
- Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Resolution – can be independent pieces or paired creatively.
- A Short Form Cinema piece that belongs to a Limited Series must have individual titles independent from each other.
- Each Short Form Cinema piece that belong within a Limited Series must have titles that provide context. (i.e titles can not be “part 1, part 2, episode 1, episode 2. ..etc)
- A Short Form Cinema Limited Series does not need to be a linear story.
- Short Form Cinema pieces within a Limited Series does not need to be in sequential order.
3. MOVING IMAGES, VISUAL LANGUAGE
- A Short Form Cinema piece has an established, composed and crafted visual grammar unique to the piece.
- A Short Form Cinema piece has a distinct and deliberate use of a color palette to establish identity.
- Visual Composition, Scene Composition and Camera Movement is used as a cohesive device to establish a visual vocabulary unique to the piece.
- Animation and VFX can be used.
4. SOUND, MUSIC, AUDIO ELEMENTS
- Sound, music & audio elements are assigned to characters & plot points.
- A Short Form Cinema piece has a distinct and deliberate use of sound, music & audio elements as a story device.
- Absence or timely deletion of sound(s) or dialogue as a deliberate method to amplify sentiment is a mechanism to impact a story in Short Form Cinema.
5. SCREEN FORMATS
- There are no restrictions of screen size or aspect ratio.
- A Short Form Cinema piece can targeted to be viewed in a theater, video streaming (such as: Netflix, Amazon, Roku TV, Apple TV, etc) mobile, game console, or TV.
WHY SHOULD FILMMAKERS & STORYTELLERS USE SHORT FORM CINEMA?
1) The guidelines & standards are designed to give the filmmaker & storyteller a compelling framework for full creative expression.
2) The constraints & boundaries allow the filmmaker & storyteller measured and deliberate creative choices.
3) The Short Form Cinema structure frames original ideas & compelling stories elegantly & artistically.
4) The Short Form Cinema framework is designed to be executable by freshmen & experienced filmmakers alike.
ISN’T SHORT FORM CINEMA EXACTLY THE SAME AS SHORT FILM?
Just as all Haiku are poems, all Short Form Cinema pieces can be categorized as short films. However, not all short films can be considered Short Form Cinema just as not all poems are Haiku.
WHY DOES SHORT FORM CINEMA HAVE SUCH SPECIFIC RUN TIME CONSTRAINTS?
Short Form Cinema was developed and evolved from a deep understanding of new audience preferences, viewing habits & patterns, consumption tendencies and new technologies (such as mobile & streaming).
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHORT FORM CINEMA AND SHORT FILMS?
Short film is an art form all in its own. Short Form Cinema has stricter guidelines than Short Film. The Short Form Cinema run length & framework have constraints which force the filmmaker & storyteller to make critical artistic choices.
IS THIS FOR PEOPLE WITH SHORT ATTENTION SPANS?
No. The framework is for film makers designed for clear, concise, concrete, coherent, and complete visual story telling in constrained run-lengths.
The attention span of the general audience isn’t necessarily shorter, people now have an appetite and expectation for brevity. It’s up to storytellers and filmmakers to meet and exceed those expectations.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHORT FORM CINEMA AND COMMERCIALS?
Commercials have two distinct features: 1) Delivers information 2) Call to action (buy now).
CAN I USE MY IPHONE?
Yes, you can use any device.
DOES SHORT FORM CINEMA HAVE DIALOGUE?
Dialogue can be very important. The Short Form Cinema framework allows for dialogue. There has been a trend in film that neglect the visual aspects of cinema and uses the camera as a way of merely “recording & reporting” the dialogue. Sometimes, great dialogue doesn’t need to be in cinema, and is best served in radio/podcast.
IS THIS LIKE YOUTUBE, VINE, INSTAGRAM, VIMEO?
Those are distribution channels & social networks. They can be used to distribute Short Form Cinema.
IS SHORT FORM CINEMA JUST A DIFFERENT WAY OF DESCRIBING SHORT FILMS?
No. Short Form Cinema has specific guidelines. Short Films are defined as.. LINK
IS SHORT FORM CINEMA JUST ABOUT RUN-LENGTH LIKE SHORT FILMS?
No. Short Form Cinema has specific guidelines; run-length is just one attribute of Short Form Cinema.
CAN VFX BE USED?
VFX can be used.
WILL THIS WORK WITH VR?
Filmmakers are encouraged to use the Short Form Cinema guidelines and standards for VR. In fact, Short Form Cinema lends itself well for VR technologies like Oculus, Google Cardboard, etc.. – Try watching a full length feature with a headset strapped to your head.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM DOGME 95 & FRENCH NEW WAVE?
The Short Form Cinema framework was designed based on intimate insight of new audience preferences, viewing habits & patterns, consumption tendencies and new technologies (such as mobile & streaming). Whereas Dogme 95 & French New Wave was a reaction to a dissatisfaction of current trends of the time.
CAN I ADAPT MY SHORT FILM FOR SHORT FORM CINEMA?
Yes you can. However, it might be easier to make a new film. (link to ‘how-to guide’)
WHY SHORT FORM CINEMA? WHY NOW?
The audience has evolved and have higher expectations from the story telling community. This phenomena occurs when new technology arise that enhance the audience experience. This has been observed from theater to film to television to streaming to mobile.
EXAMPLES OF SHORT FORM CINEMA
The following are examples from storytellers and filmmakers.
MISSADVENTURES – THE GREAT ESCAPE
KAT – STILL IN THE CAGE
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