Short Sighted: Are Short Films the new TV Pilot?

     James M. Johnston’s Short Melville premiered at the 2015 SXSW Festival

Just when I was beginning to think Short films no longer served as a calling card in the industry I find out about James M. Johnston’s short film Melville. A short character study about a man who is withdrawn from life and his personal struggle to become a hip-hop star. The film stunned audiences at the 2015 SXSW Festival and caught the eye of Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz, the co-founder of SMAC Entertainment. The short is currently in development to become a television series.

Short films getting picked up for TV is not a new phenomenon. Though rare, it has happened many times before. An example of this is animated series South Park. The series is spawned from a short film called  ‘The Spirit of Christmas:Jesus vs. Frosty’ which was created in 1992. Now, this is not to say that anyone who makes a short will be picked up by a TV Network but it is one way short films are getting new talent noticed. As well as having a unique and interesting idea and getting your film seen by the right people, a certain amount of luck is also needed. After receiving the best animation award at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Jesus vs Frosty caught the attention of Fox executive Brian Graden, who offered Stone and Parker $1,000 to create another short as a video Christmas Card. This then circulated around on the internet and bootleg video. Comedy Central then caught on and two years after their second short the South Park series aired and 19 episodes later, it’s still causing controversy.


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