Your first effort may not be sexy, but your hustle sure is.
If you're getting down about your filmography consisting of not a single feature, don't. Yeah, we all want to be Orson Welles and direct a feature-length masterpiece on our first go-around, but having a bunch of low-budget, low-quality shorts under your belt is actually a really great place to be. Just look at director Taika Waititi. Sure, he directed a ginormous blockbuster last year with Thor: Ragnarok, but before he was helming one of the best Marvel films ever, he was crafting delightful indie features like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy, and before that, he was crafting no-budget shorts that laid the foundation upon which he would build his later work.
In this video essay, Luís Azevedo of Fandor examines Waititi's career to show us how "rough draft" filmmaking can be just as beneficial and rewarding as working on a high-value, big-budget project.
Azevedo goes over several interesting aspects of Waititi's career, including his affinity for "lovable losers" and his willingness to embrace fear and nervousness in hopes of pushing his creativity to new levels.
However, one of the most interesting things about the director is his filmography of shorts—and I'm not talking about how Two Cars, One Night received an Oscar nomination. That's cool, but what's cooler is how Waititi uses these shorts to explore his ideas, putting them through the test of production to see if they'll work in a feature. He did this with Two Cars, One Night, What We Do in the Shadows, and even Thor: Ragnarok.
Shorts are a great option for beginners who don't have much experience making films and would benefit from a bite-size version of production. They also take less time, energy, and resources to make, which gives you the unique opportunity to do a little "rough draft" filmmaking. Because you're more focused on exploring your ideas, you don't have to worry so much about making everything perfect.
Basically, shorts are magnificent but are all too often overlooked. Don't give up your dream of making a feature, but don't ignore the many perks of cranking out a bunch of shorts.