Short Films: Who's Who and What's What.
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For the next few weeks, our Denise Harrison takes us through the wild and wooly world of internet shorts. This week she gives us an overview of who's who. Next week….The Wheels, The Deals. The Business of Shorts. So hold on to your hats and glasses because this will be a bumpy ride.

Shorts are hip, they’re free from the mires of filmmaking studios, and the big news is that shorts are not just for college projects anymore. In this new world of low-cost digital cameras and a plethora of Web sites drooling for content, pros and amateurs alike are capturing gigabytes by the minute. Everyone can be a contender.

"Shorts were a dying art form," explains Steve Hein of Quality Filmed Entertainment. Quality Filmed Entertainment, the company behind Billy Jones, the shorts award winner at the Yahoo! Internet Life Film Festival in March, is a production management company specializing in launching the careers of young writers and directors. "Back in the 30s and 40s, they made shorts and showed them before feature films. Then in the 70s and 80s, they were used mostly for "Hardware Wars"."

More recently, says Hein, shorts were mostly used as calling cards for directors, sometimes met with success, such as for the South Park creators, who originally made a short, and the more recent George Lucas in Love, which found fame on the Internet but wasn’t originally made for it.

"The Internet began taking these shorts that were already there and exposing them outside the Hollywood community, bringing a lot of legitimacy to the form," he says. "Our company has been doing shorts for three or four years and the Internet companies getting behind them and treating them as real filmmakers has been an asset. Sites such as iFilm.com and atomfilms.com have become incubators, a great place to test how successful a short will be.

Robert Faust, president of on-demand entertainment site MediaTrip.com, and says shorts began to have a life at film festivals and occasionally would pop up on cable. Faust, who used to run the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, says people would constantly call and ask how they can see a film featured at the festival. "One of the reasons I got so excited about the form and the Internet is that it breaks the bottleneck of distribution. Anything can be seen."

He says not only does the Internet give new filmmakers a chance, the distribution also provides a creative freedom to big filmmakers and directors. "We are going to see more mainstream talent doing short form content for the Internet," predicts Faust. "In traditional media, there are sometimes restrictions, but not so with the Internet. This gives artists creative freedom."

Shorts and the technology of the Internet are a great match, he says. "The technology and the attention span of the Internet make shorts the perfect content form. I also think we’ll see plenty of feature films on the Internet, too, all of it on this on-demand basis. The accessibility is great for the filmmakers because they can showcase their work but the consumer benefits as well. This is a whole new mechanism that allows the consumer to watch the film, give instant feedback, automatically review it, go to chat boards and even talk to the director."

Of course, shorts aren’t Internet-only, and we’ll be discussing other distribution next week. They’re also not always filmed or taped — animated shorts have taken off as well. For now, we’re talking short film, and here’s where to point your browsers for the latest from the hottest new (and existing) stars in Hollywood — the makers of shorts.

iFIlm
www.ifilm.net

iFilm, launched in October of 1998, has more than 800 shorts. iFilm bills itself as an Internet resource for film fans, filmmakers, and entertainment industry professionals. It serves as a resource for budding artists and also for the Hollywood industry searching for that talent. It has shorts, digital, features and student films categories. iFilm boasts the 10-episode series: The Sadness of Sex directed by Rupert Wainwright and written by Barry Yourgrau and the award-winning Billy Jones by Christopher Bell among many others. They encourage submissions but definitely have quality standards. You can view using Windows Media, Real Player or QuickTime.

AtomFilms
www.atomfilms.com

AtomFilms focuses on creating a mass market for short films, animations and digital media. A loyal supporter of independent filmmakers and animators, AtomFilms has built a platform for its artists looking for worldwide distribution. The company selects fewer than 10 percent of the hundreds of shorts they review each month. Currently showing is George Lucas’s college project: Electronic Labyrinth. See Web site for submissions. Real Player or Windows Player for viewing.

MediaTrip

www.mediatrip.com

MediaTrip provides on-demand shorts. MediaTrip.com was featured in the December 17, 1999 issue of Entertainment Weekly as having the best short film on the Internet and rated our film "George Lucas in Love" with an A+. MediaTrip.com has also set a world record for the most viewings of a short film with over 150,000 video streams for "George Lucas in Love" in its first few weeks. MediaTrip also shows on-demand features, music and original programming content. View with Windows Player or Real Media Player.

ShortBUZZ
www.shortbuzz.com

ShortBUZZ.com, launched in July, 1999, also provides free short films on demand and has work from more than 100 artists. Founded by filmmakers for filmmakers, they encourage submissions but their Web site states they only select quality films for posting. Real Player is required for viewing.

/the· sync/
http://thesync.com/ondemand/index.html/

/the· sync/, home to JenniCAM, has a section called independent exposure featuring 10 shorts. Also has features, series and webcams. Appears to have contracts with certain artists and a section for submitting your work isn’t apparent. View with Real Player, Windows Player or QuickTime.

WireBreak
www.wirebreak.com

WireBreak says they create digital shows for the Internet and for future digital delivery systems. They have about a dozen or so short films as well as some games and other entertainment. You'll need Real Player or Windows Player.


CinemaPop
www.kkrs.net


Brand new site with a dozen or so shorts, including some classics from Charlie Chaplin, the Dead End Kids, Spencer Tracy, Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, Judy Garland. Microsoft Player required.

The New Venue

www.newvenue.com

The New Venue has Every week the New Venue features new independent short films (there are about 30 on the site) and helps digital filmmakers with "FlickTips", a complete guide to making movies for the web. Requires Macromedia Flash 4.

MovieFlix

www.movieflix.com

MovieFlix has hundreds of shorts and other first-run content, as well as movie merchandise, articles, box office figures and more. Contact MovieFlix about submissions. Requires Real Player.

D.FILM
www.dfilm.com

The D.FILM Digital Film Festival is a traveling and online showcase of films. In its first year D.FILM was presented in New York, San Francisco, San Diego and London. Every show in every city was sold out. The first leg of D.FILM's second season included screenings at Stanford University, the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the Digital Video Conference and Expo in Pasadena and in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Use QuickTime for viewing.

ICAST

www.icast.com

ICAST emphasizes the do-it-yourself nature of the Internet. It features some well-known artists as well as giving users the platform, self-publishing tools, content and community for creating their own projects.

Entertaindom

www.entertaindom.com

Warner Bros.’ entertaindom.com is a gigaplex of entertainment with only several shorts. But the site promises new shorts three times a week, which should beef up their offerings quite quickly. Real Player and Windows Player.

The Bit Screen

www.thebitscreen.com

The Bit Screen delivers first-run Internet films, adding new programming each week. The Best of The Bit Screen on Broadcast.com (www.broadcast.com/video). They are seeking submissions — see their Web site for info. Films are viewed with Real Player.

Bijou Cafe
www.bijoucafe.com

Bijoucafe, begun in 1998, has a few fun shorts and plenty of other types of entertainment, including features and episodic (even some old Secret Agent episodes!). They do encourage submissions but don’t select just anything. For viewing, be sure to have Real Player.

AntEye.com

www.anteye.com

AntEye.com is an interactive community just as much for the content creators as for the viewers. Viewers vote on all the pieces they show, then the Anteye folks take a look at the top rated projects. These become eligible to receive development deals for television shows, interactive media, and digital short films of up to $100,000, and digital feature film budgets of up to $250,000, plus the expertise of our Anteye’s digital producers and crew to help get it done. For viewing, get Real Player.

And Coming Soon….

POP.com
www.pop.com

Launching later this spring, POP.com is an independent digital entertainment company created to produce and broadcast original internet-only programming founded by a collaboration of Dreamworks SKG and Imagine Entertainment. The content will include live action and animation, video on demand and live web events, non-linear interactive features and games, and user-submitted content.

Z.com
www.z.com

Z.com is a new site made from a partnership including idealab!, Basic Entertainment, 3Arts Entertainment, Maverick Record's Guy Oseary, and a team drawn from the arts, entertainment, technology, and interactive design communities. They are dedicated to creating new and unique content the Internet. Over the coming months, content will appear from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Oliver Stone, Cindy Margolis, comedic personalities from film, television, and stand-up, as well as emerging talent from the writing, directing, animation, and game communities.