What happens if you support short movies
Updated: Jul 10
The Coronavirus crisis will have long-term consequences for the film industry. Major productions were halted, international film festivals had to adapt to online webinars, market events and screenings, and movie theatres were shut globally. Some countries are attempting to re-open movie theatres, but there's no idea if the public will feel safe to return to the cinemas, even though governmental departments have implemented studies and surveys on how to avoid contagion.
The longer the pandemic goes on, the more the industry will be disrupted. Opening up theatres and movie studios without a guarantee that a second wave won't happen can be even worse.
Some might say that this will not affect their lives. If you live close to a drive-in, you can watch blockbusters and classic movies. Whilst this is a creative attempt to manage the sector crisis, it provides no input to new stories.
We've seen many people dedicating more time to watch films online. While the crisis has been good to platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, this is a temporary spark. Streamers are affected because no films are being filmed -- exception made to the very Indie ones who are being shot inside houses.
There's a second aspect about the movie experience being restricted to streamers: it's common sense that the major streamers don't offer much choice in terms of diversity and inclusion. Soon we all get tired, reaching the conclusion that the quantity offer means simply more of the same. The bottom line of the process is that we don't see ourselves in the films, as only very recently (2016) diversity has been considered at the heart of the film industry decision makers. (For more on this, check this page.)
We all know that change for the better doesn't happen overnight. So what can we do now?
My suggestion is to support short movies.
If you have never seen a short movie, there's a reason. Short movies remain in the shadows because of its exposure to the wide public. Short movies are often seen during film festivals, which have recently been cancelled. There are some festivals dedicated exclusively to short movies' and others -- big ones -- that showcase selections of short movies. But apart from film festivals, short movies circulate among film industry people and film aficionados. If you aren't one of them, there's a chance you have seen very few short movies.
It is curious, though, that many famous feature filmmakers began their careers shooting short movies. Short movies come up with creative ways to grab audience attention. The screenwriter must consider that they need to find other ways to get audiences to identify with their characters, without the ability to explain all the aspects of a character's background. This is hard to achieve, and obviously short movies work as laboratory for a filmmaker to develop his creativity. In order to achieve it, short movie creators risk more; hence they are closer to achieve what the industry needs right now to reinvent itself.
I've recently watched the short movie Stationary, which compelled me to write this article. Its title semantically refers to an object or situation "not moving or not intended to be moved". The short movie opens with a sequence that obviously relates to the title. There's a guy cleaning his car that is parked somewhere in London, in the middle of the night. He throws away loads of butts of cigarettes, suggesting tension, but also being stuck inside the car. Almost every action occurs inside the car, that is kept with its engine off.
Gradually, we come to know that this young guy was arrested and kept captive for some time. The present moment reflects a rendezvous with his former drug dealing friend and her younger brother. The female black actress is really young, and the narrative focuses on the event which might have led to her inability to move forward, which is her role as a mother figure to her brother. The young boy is trying to apply to University. His sister does not approve of his choice, and her motivation is evidently based on her own life experience as a drug dealer.
The film is a raw conception of the current British youth expectations. A modern picture of class in Britain, according to a survey in 2013, include seven classes: elite, established middle class, technical middle class, new affluent workers, traditional working class, emergent service workers and precariat. Think one moment on those two following questions. Which of these classes are able to move socially? Which of these classes are considered in the films streamed on Netflix and Amazon?
With its lyrical and simple approach, Stationary is a thermometer of one of the current inequalities that the Coronavirus crisis has put in evidence. Investing and supporting short movies that showcase on-screen diverse representation is crucial to set a new model for British society.
You can do your part. Stationary premieres on 9th of July at 7 pm. Watch it on here.
There are also many ongoing international initiatives launched to support the international film industry. You can access it here.