The Art of The Short

November 7, 2008

So, in case you didn’t know, I tried really hard to get a submission in to the Midnight Cabaret 48-hour film festival. For a variety of reasons, I ended up having to withdraw, not least of which being that when I tried to save what I had (about 40% of the finished film), I lost the file, and would have had to start from scratch, with only six hours or so left.

The film that I was making was an animated short. I decided to make an animated movie because I was working on my own, and even though I could have made a movie fairly quickly using live footage, I would’ve only ever had one person in the shot, and I wouldn’t have been able to move the camera in any way while shooting a scene. Another major motivation to go for animation was watching this video:

It’s a short animated film called “Hold the Line.” It reminded me of all those shorts that Pixar likes to insert before its movies. I began thinking about these shorts, and realized that one thing that amazes me about Pixar’s shorts – which is also true of Hold the Line – is the ability to convey so much without resorting to actual, meaningful language. A few days after I withdrew from the film festival, I downloaded “Pixar Shorts, Vol. I,” and promptly discovered that not all of Pixars shorts are wordless, but a fair number are, and what’s more, the best – or what I would contend are the “best” – shorts rely only on music (sometimes with lyrics), sound effects, and visuals, to convey their messages, much like Hold the Line does.

I think this non-verbal communication touches something deep within us; maybe that sounds cheesy, but I do. By bypassing the adult world of language-symbols, these short films reach to a lower level of creativity and imagination, reigniting a childhood spark by asking us to understand the world by actually experiencing it, rather than describing it – either to each other or to ourselves. Momentarily, we find ourselves connected to the world as it truly is, and our presumptions about the nature of the world are momentarily challenged. I think it is from this that so much of the power of the animated short is derived. Perhaps if we spent more time trying to convey ideas and emotions through non-verbal communication, we might lessen the emotional and psychological ills of our society.

Random, unrelated thought (in this case, factual):

The New York-New Jersey-Connecticut conglomerate contains more people than the entire country of Canada.

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