Kolkata: Short films have not only taken film industries across the world by storm but have also slowly and gradually become the voice of youngsters across India. More and more students and film enthusiasts from across the world have taken a fancy to the shorter format of filmmaking. Not just because it is more economical but also to make maximum the impact among a generation that has a fast shortening attention span!
Rupsha Ghoshal, a former student of Jadavpur University’s Mass Communication department and a writer says, “I have acted in a few short films in college. I have also been part of the production team of other films. A short film helps you to showcase your work on several platforms. Once you get noticed, the offers keep coming. You slowly become a known face. Internet gives you that advantage. That is why more and more people are looking to break some ground in the short film format.”
Another reason could be the budget constraints. When you are a newcomer job offers don’t come easy, especially if you are starting out as an actor or a director. Short films can be made on a minimum budget and later developed into something bigger if one can find a producer for the content you want to showcase.
The factor that directly affects the popularity of this medium is the social media platform. When a film is widely shared on social media and viewed by many users, it automatically becomes viral. Even at the community level, these films gather wide viewership. Presenting short content in an attractive way is a trend now. That is also why television viewership has gone down drastically and people are more inclined towards web series. People watch everything on their phones and have very little time in their hands. Hence it is necessary to keep the length short and message crisp.
But what is striking about this trend is the fact that all this is not just for entertainment. The format is now also used to uphold strong social messages, which usually expose the hypocrisy of the society around us. Several government agencies are also now hiring short filmmakers to make short films on several social awareness schemes. These videos are usually 3-5 minutes long and carry a strong message.
Swapan Moitra, executive engineer Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, West Bengal informs how government is using short films for the promotion of their works, “Short films are quite in demand now even in government offices where we make publicity material for various government schemes like Kanyasree, Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan, Midday Meal Scheme, Pulse Polio among others. We hire filmmakers on contract basis and outsource this job. The payments come from the government once the project is ready and approved by the authorities.”
Such is the popularity that even educational institutions and social groups are using this format to talk about issues that were deliberately kept away from the public eye till now.
Swami Baladevananda of Ramakrishna Mission Calcutta Students’ Home mentions, “We recently organised a filmmaking competition among our students and former students of Ramakrishna Mission. The screenings were held in Chennai and students from all branches of Ramkrishna Mission sent their entries. From Calcutta we sent the film titled ‘Alpona’ made by a group of our former students. We got a cash prize and several other accolades for the film. The film spreads the message of unity in diversity.”
Aspiring actor Kaushiki Chakraborty was thrilled when theatre and film actor Arunava Dey cast her in his short film Projapoti. Projapoti is the story of two girls, Ganga and Ahalya, their friendship, and their entry into womanhood. But life takes a series of disastrous turns, once they discover their feelings for each other. “The film is a dream come true. We have worked really hard on it. The short film format is one of the best things to have happened to the industry. It helps youngsters like me find a voice. Also it helps us to find visibility on social media. I have also started working on another short film titled ‘Megh’.”
But what is more important for the medium is to resonate with filmmakers. Unless there is a passion for filmmaking, there can be no shortcut to success. There are some stories that are not suited for the long format. But what is required for independent filmmakers is more funding, because no one is really willing to invest and trust you with huge sums of money. Also there are no heckles of distribution, since the internet takes up your cause and actually helps you gain visibility. The film festivals are also very important to find viewers. People can watch your films and come up and talk to you if they have a opinion. The ordinary viewer has a voice in the film festivals.
Sreecheta Das, a former student of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) and now an independent filmmaker said, “I have made several short films, both as my student life projects and also with independent funding. There are some people who treat this as a stepping stone to get an entry into the feature film industry. But for me every narrative has a particular demand of storytelling. There are some stories which need to be told in 10 minutes while there are others that need 2 hours! It all depends on the story.”
Her film ‘Posharini’ is scheduled to be screened in 5 cities across the country including Mumbai and Kolkata as part of the 16th Mumbai International Film Festival 2020. It will also be screened at the 2nd Women’s International Film Festival of Kerala, 4th Kalinga Global Film Festival, 7th Kolkata People’s Film Festival and Sambhav Travelling Film Festival.