What Short Film Could You Make for $800K? This Japanese Festival Wants to Find Out
Big budget short films are a rare breed these days, but this contest aims to prove the format's viability.
Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia and Avex Digital Inc. have teamed up to bring this massive opportunity for short filmmakers. If you've got a "thrilling, exciting, moving" idea, you could be in a position to produce it to the tune of $800K. All you need is a 250-word plot synopsis of your short film and a great way to utilize the short form format to its full potential. It makes sense: attention spans are shrinking, the market is flooded, and short film format agrees with media habits of mobile culture. The Short Shorts International Short Film Pitch Contest and application process look pretty straightforward and worthwhile. Plus, it's free!
"We are looking for pitches for short films that will stir the emo-tions and have the ability to thrill, excite or move audiences."
At a glance:
- Submit a 250 word synopsis (written in English or Japanese) of your short film idea along with a logline, photo references, your bio and past work by February 29th.
- Five finalists are chosen in March 2016 and each awarded $4,000. If you make it to this round, you then submit your screenplay, proposed cast, locations and budget.
- One finalist chosen out of the five will receive an additional $8,000 and $800,000 to make their film.
- The final product of the winner will be screened at the 2017 Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, an annual event devoted to short films in Tokyo.
In today's film market, it's hard to imagine spending this much money to produce a short film. The Associated Press reports that Rieko Muramoto, the executive director of Avex Digital (the company putting up the money for the contest) feels it's a "worthy investment for finding fresh content for online services, pioneering a genre and nurturing talent." She also says that she's not doing this to "make a quick buck." Well, I hate to break it to you Muramoto, but spending $800K on a short film probably isn't a way to make a "quick buck" — but thanks for the vote of confidence. It's good to know your heart is in the right place.
When I heard of this contest, I immediately started to think of great short films made on relatively big budgets — and I had trouble. Usually short form in this budget range are commercials, music videos, or commissioned work by large companies as PR (i.e. Scorsese's $70M short). I had to do some digging to find some solid examples. According to IMDBPro, there's tons of shorts made for more than a million dollars, and very few are narrative. Many larger budget short films are documentary or animation, which makes sense given the resources both of those formats require (time!). Tim Burton's 29 minute Frankenweenie cost ~$1m ($2.2m in today's money):
The AP says that Tetsuya Bessho, (who founded Short Shorts festival in 1999) "likened the best short films to the minimalist but fine-tuned concentration of haiku poetry."
The contest doesn't specific whether it is primarily looking for narrative, documentary or animation, but the 1 year turnaround makes me think they are especially on the lookout for narrative films (</speculation>).
Will you be submitting to this contest? What are your favorite big budget short films?