‘You’re not going to make a living off of short films.’ was one of the first thing out of Chris Tidman’s mouth in front of a room full of aspiring short filmmakers. ‘they’re an investment you make in your next project.‘
Shorts International is a global independent short film distribution platform and Chris Tidman is their London based vice president of global acquisitions. His role is to oversee procurement for the Shorts International distribution catalogue. At the BAFTA short film masterclass he discussed Shorts.tv’s relationship with the Academy, the anatomy of a Sale and his predictions for the future of short films.
Chris told us that Shorts.TV have a close relationship with the Oscars, releasing and providing theatrical distribution for the nominated short movies. ‘The films go into theaters shortly after nominations are announced, and are not released anywhere else except in theaters until a few days before the Oscars.’
Posting content to be viewed free online is generally frowned upon by festivals. Filmmakers are often faced with choosing between getting paid for their shorts, with the help of organisations like Shorts.TV or allowing the biggest possible audience to view their film. Chris weighed in on this saying : ‘the internet is problematic for broadcasters, once your short film is on the internet, it cannot be sold to Shorts.tv but there are certain organisations we can’t dictate to…’ he went on to say that when Disney made their short black and white romantic cartoon, Paperman, free to view online in 2013 there was little shorts.tv could do. In turn every animated film up for the award followed suit causing real problems for the broadcasters. This year, however, none of the shorts have been made available online (legally) with the exception of World of Tomorrow (which is available on Netflix and to rent via Vimeo) meaning the exclusive theatrical release of the Oscars shorts lies in the hands of Shorts.tv once again.
Chris said: ‘The recent growth in demand for short films has been unprecedented and Shorts.TV now has over 11 million subscribers. That’s a huge number of people interested in viewing high quality short films! The landscape of short film has changed, broadcasters who were once interested seem to have run away. I think this has something to do with Video on Demand, which has lowered the price of short films. This is not to say there isn’t hope for the short form. We have seen recently that short films are used as teasers for feature length films, and they’re being used to pilot tv series. First and foremost, shorts are a filmmakers calling card and a chance to find out who you are and what your style is as a filmmaker.’
Chris then went on to talk about how he sees the landscape of short film changing over the next 5-10 years. ‘I predict that shorts will go back into the hands of the broadcasters. On demand platforms already see the potential of the short form. Canal + have been offering €500-€1,000 per minute for a short. The audience is there and seems to be expending, it is in your hands to produce the quality content.’