8 Short Films By Great Directors That You Can See On YouTube
The beginning of many film directors was short films, which allowed them to experience different styles and narratives that would define their later feature films. The truth is that not all directors have made successful short films; some are mere disappointments due to an overloaded visual style. But in this space, we will not talk about failures but about those directors whose first audiovisual works constituted the foundations of a successful career. These filmmakers are undoubtedly the inspiration for many emerging directors, proving that talent can be demonstrated early on while no one starts at the top.
Glory at Sea (2008), by Benh Zeitlin
In 2012, Benh Zeitlin’s first feature film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, swept the festival circuit, won top prizes at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival garnered four Oscar nominations. But funding for this film would not have been possible if Zeitlin had not won an award at South by Southwest in 2008 for his short film Glory at Sea.
With the same aesthetic used in his film and a small protagonist, Glory at Sea follows a group of people who build a boat from the rubble in New Orleans to rescue their loved ones trapped in the sea. Representing the pain after Hurricane Katrina and with an overwhelming sense of magical realism, the short offers an encapsulation of Beasts of the Southern Wild’s style and with equally epic aspirations.
Small Deaths (1996), by Lynne Ramsay
With her 1999 debut with Ratcatcher, Lynne Ramsay became a critical favorite. Her most acclaimed film so far has been We Gotta Talk About Kevin, with whom she has proven to be a capable artist to adapt his stories to the cinema with his extraordinary vision. Immersive and sometimes overwhelming, Ramsay’s films abound with unusual images appealing for their great use of textures, composition, color, music, and sound.
Small Deaths was her film school thesis, and it also won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize. Small Death is a collection of three key moments in a girl’s youth, which offers a playful but sophisticated experimentation thanks to a non-traditional composition and expanded soundscapes, elements that would become her signature.
Cigarettes & Coffee (1993), by Paul Thomas Anderson
The critically beloved director for his films There Will Be Blood and The Master owes his career to a great opportunity at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Paul Thomas Anderson spent his college fund and some earnings to make his short film, Cigarettes & Coffee, which tells the story of five people interconnected through a 20 dollar bill.
Thanks to this short, Anderson was invited to the Sundance Filmmakers Laboratory. He worked to adapt the short into a feature film, which would become Boogie Nights, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996, launching one of the last decade’s essential film careers.
Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB (1967 ), by George Lucas.
As a film student at the University of Southern California in 1967, George Lucas directed Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, a science fiction short film about a group of people living in a dystopia. In January 1968, this short would win first prize in the drama category at the third National Student Film Festival held at Lincoln Center, seen and admired by Steven Spielberg.
This short recognition was enough for Francis Ford Coppola to finance a film based on the short through his newly founded production company American Zoetrope in 1971. The feature film was titled THX 1138; however, this was not a commercial success. Despite its poor reception at the box office, it captured critics.
What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1992), by Martin Scorsese
This is his first short. We can already see how he uses some of the cinematographic resources to become his personal hallmarks, such as the voice-over, the staccato editing, and the camera’s constant movements. This short film set the tone for later ones like ‘It’s Not Just You, Murray! ‘(his first approach to the mafia).
Jean-Luc Godard is known to be a transgressor of the cinematographic medium. In 1987, he was part of the choral film Aria, a Don Boyd production that brings together the work of ten avant-garde directors. Navigating between the short film and the video clip, the ambitious project is dedicated to different arias of classical music. In that sense, the acclaimed director of the nouvelle vague performs his own interpretation of the opera Armide, by Jean-Baptiste Lully.
Incident by a Bank (2010), by Ruben Östlund
Before winning the Palme d’Or in 2017, Ruben Östlund directed an 11-minute short film based on a true event on June 26, 2006. A Bank’s incident is about a failed bank robbery witnessed by the Swedish director and his producer, Erik Hemmendorff. Meticulously planned choreography and four takes edited as a single sequence are the elements necessary to turn your experience into an eyewitness that achieves a detailed representation of human behavior.
Nocturne (1980), by Lars von Trier
Nocturne is a hypnotic short film by Danish director Lars Von Trier, known for developing the Dogma 95 movement alongside fellow director Thomas Vinterberg. This surprising predecessor of the Europa Trilogy ( Elements of Crime, Epidemic, Europe ) conveys a post-apocalyptic atmosphere of separation, anxiety, and claustrophobia; the outside world is terrifying for a woman who cannot stand sunlight, forcing her to stay in the dark, although she must take a plane trip.