Sharan Gupta is the Vice President for Video Marketing at Beyond Codes Inc. a prominent digital marketing and lead generation solutions firm based in Southern California. Sharan is responsible for developing the company’s video marketing platform and establishing it as a leader in the field. Sharan is a graduate of the renowned New York Film Academy (NYFA). The view expressed are his own.
“But short films are not inferior, just different. I think the short gives freedom to filmmakers. What’s appealing is that you don’t have as much responsibility for storytelling and plot. They can be more like a portrait, or a poem.” – Jane Campion, Film Director, Screenwriter and an Academy Award Winner.
Covid 19, U.S. Election 2020, killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter movement, death of Bollywood actor Shusant Singh Rajput, invasion of Ukraine, Palestinian housing crisis, Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the war in Yemen are some of the international events that triggered a major response from the netizens of the world. Mass movement and social dissatisfaction have spread across the world like wildfire and created a massive need to capture the events unfolding.
Technological advancements and smartphones with HD cameras have generated a vision for social justice and a cry for help in the form of short films. The short films that have sprung over the last few years have addressed the problems of police brutality, the perversion seen through democratic elections, and national lockdowns and their effect on the blue-collar workers.
Hence, the appetite for short films. Short films are not specifically focused on the plot per se but rather on an idea. Short film-makers have been proven to be more relevant, vocal, and versatile than long features.
With the pace of events in the world that are unfolding, it requires an immediate response and representation so that the events make more sense. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is one example, which took place in February 2022, and has garnered attention worldwide. The short films related to the event can already be found on many platforms. Creators from around the world have released short films like, “No To War”, “Breaking Point: The War on Democracy”, “Cyborg”, “No obvious Signs” and countless more.
Short films are a gateway. They are the magic door that opens up to a large selection of genres, techniques and cutting edge technology. The filmmakers benefit the most from the short films. Not in terms of revenue but rather with experience and exposure.
The normal ambit for a short film leads it to be screened at film festivals. Being selected for it is itself a bonanza for the film, but it also allows filmmakers the advantage of showcasing their talent without having to splurge the money that most of them don’t have.
Have you heard of “The Big Shave”? Maybe not! Before Martin Scorsese became one of the greatest directors in the industry, he began his journey with the short film, The Big Shave. Before Taika Watiti directed Marvel movies and won an Oscar for Jojo Rabbit, there was “Two Cars, One Night”. Christopher Nolan is known around the world, and he got his start with a short film, “Doodlebug” in 1997.
The point of sharing these one-line memoirs is that the greatest filmmakers around the world got recognition by trying something new, providing mind-altering narratives and by turning their “crazy” ideas into short films. These are the people who are making short films. The students, the dreamers and the great filmmakers of the future.
You probably know what a streaming platform is; by definition, it is an on-demand online source of entertainment and media. For Example, youtube, Netflix, Hulu, Hotstar, amazon prime videos, Vimeo, sundance now and countless more. So how do the streaming platforms help content creators?
Reels and short video formats have taken a big leap thanks to TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. These platforms are not the traditional streaming platforms but they have become the forum for the content creators around the world. Short movies are often released by newcomers and amateur directors on these platforms. So why is that?
These platforms have a massive user base, quality metrics, analytics and a huge platform for gathering your audience. These platforms help the filmmakers market their films and talent. The metrics to earn money from them is very low.
When you google, “what are the best platforms to watch short films?”, the lists show Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo and Sofy.TV at the top. These platforms are the major platforms to stream short films and film-makers from across the world have exhibited their talents on them across genres.
The next question that comes to mind is if they make any money. If you are not selling your movie to Netflix, Amazon or others, the chances of making money off your short film completely depend on your marketing skills. Creators have been monetizing through Youtube and Vimeo. These platforms can pay a small percentage of money for a certain number of views.
Have you heard of “Netflix and Chill”? It’s a euphemism for hanging out and watching a movie/show!
OTT has become a part of the culture of all generations. It is available for everyone in the world with access to the internet. Its content changes with demography, it’s updated periodically and new content role out in the blink of an eye!
We are living in the era of amazing films and mind-blowing TV shows. If the last decades were about multiplexes and theatres, the coming decade will be about the OTT content. When the 2020 Covid pandemic hit, the theatres and movie halls, were all closed, so everyone in the world turned to OTT to look out for new content to take a break from daily monotony.
The pandemic acted as an incendiary for the OTT platforms. The subscriber growth was up to 60% in a very short time. This is also when the OTT platforms started exploring bigger markets and started investing heavily in new content.
Over the last 3 years, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+Hotstar, Zee and SonyLive, have invested heavily in creating content in India, based on various vernaculars across the country. Shows like Family Man, Sacred Games, Mirzapur, Rocket Boys and Scam 1992, immediately attracted subscribers to the OTT. And yes, that is how the OTT platforms make money. They depend on the subscriber to pay a monthly fee, which can be from $10 to $20 per month depending on the platforms. Many OTT platforms earn money through ads and subscribers but the mainstream platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+Hotstar do not display advertisements on their streaming platforms.
Over the years, the amount of content consumed and the hours spent on the OTT platform have increased dramatically. The binge-watching culture, Netflix and chill, or just a Saturday night movie hang, has become a daily routine. Current figures state that the average time spent on OTT platforms in the U.S. alone as increased by 23% by 2020. OTT subscriptions skyrocketed in India as brands like Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Netflix have reported an uptick of 65%.
Almost fifty million households subscribe to OTT and there is a huge number that shares their password. Even after having a great number of subscribers, some OTT platforms are still facing problems and have low revenue coming up. The reason for low revenue is password sharing and since there are no advertisements, subscriptions are the major source of revenue for the OTT platforms.
As we have covered the basics of OTT, and its reach, let’s conclude by stating its importance. Every day, the world is becoming more sensitive to the needs of everyone, these platforms are telling stories of the ones forgotten, reaching the audience that needs a little sensitivity and providing opportunities for actors, directors, and filmmakers to explore different ideas and genres to present it to the world. OTT has become a large part of our culture. It is important for the artist, for the audience, it gives us a chance to break from our reality and live in the fantastic world of sitcoms, horror movies, psychological thrillers, happy families, crazy families, and the friends who live across the hall and many more. OTT has not only created new content but it has also brought back the shows from the past, that have been part of the pop culture for decades.
The popularity of OTT platforms has impacted the short film genres by opening them to the audience, which would not have found its way to them otherwise. Most short films have a small budget, amateur but ambitious film-makers, and actors looking for that one break, and it halts, even at the best at Film Festivals. The short films until, a few years back were limited to a small portion of the audience, who would come across them while streaming random videos on Youtube. Monetizing from them was not an option, as the viewership was very small. The OTT platforms have begun to host a myriad of short films, across all the genres, this has helped the filmmakers, to aim for bigger investments and sell the movies on OTT platforms. This has encouraged short film-makers to explore and deliver quality content. The journey doesn’t just stop at the film festivals. OTT along with social media has helped artist advertise their work and reach larger audiences. The promotions from mobile phone companies like Apple, One Plus and Samsung, who have encouraged artists to use their devices to make films, have added to the bonus. The impact is large!
The world is smaller than ever, we are all connected within the reach. There is no corner of the world where social media and OTT platforms have not made an impact. Short films are reaching a wider audience, they are telling the stories of human emotions, relationships, government, wars and everything in between.