When you're watching a biography of your favorite actor in your Yorkville condos, you will probably learn that the actor got his or her start by appearing in short films. You hear mentions of short films in trade magazines and in reference to award shows, but what are short films? How are they different for features films? Who makes them and why? And above all, where can you see them? This article should give you the lowdown on this often overlooked facet of movie making.

Short films are exactly what they sound like: films that are shorter than feature films, which are the movies that you go to see in theaters or watch on DVD while you're waiting for something. Feature films are longer than one hour, usually 80 to 120 minutes, while short films are under 40 minutes. In fact, most short films are less than 10 minutes long.

While feature films tend to be made by studios and released into theaters and onto DVD to make money, short films tend to be made by independent filmmakers as a way of padding their portfolio. A short film is much cheaper to make than a feature film, so an individual actually has a chance at making his own on the weekend without requiring an investment of millions of dollars from a studio, as is the case with a feature film.

Short films are usually submitted and screened at film festivals, so the average person who works for a living probably hasn't seen many. The point of a short film isn't to make money or please the public but to demonstrate the skill of those involved in making the short film, which can include actors, directors, writers, animators, editors, and composers. The reason they are shown at film festivals is that these are the largest concentrations of industry professionals. The hope is that someone connected with a studio will see the film, be impressed, and make job offers.

If you want to see some short films, buy tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival next time you make your next visit to the spa. Alternatively, many fledgling movie makers are posting their shorts on Youtube, so you can watch them there. Occasionally you will see shorts ahead of features (Pixar, for example, includes an original short with each feature) or on DVDs as bonus features after an actor or director has become famous.

Popular short films you may recognize:

Tangled Ever After
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Frosty the Snowman

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