NEWPORT FILM FEST IS SHORT FILM HEAVEN!
The Newport Beach Film Festival honors short films with more screen time than any other festival I've attended.
Over 200 short films are screening this year! And only fourteen percent of the shorts submitted to the festival are accepted! That number comes straight from Dennis Baker, Director of Shorts Programming.
The math is pretty simple: Over 1435 short films were submitted to the festival this year!!
Surely those short films that made the cut deserve some serious kudos. And it means, as a screenwriter, you should pay attention to the short form. Given the exposure you may get, it’s a viable ticket to “the show," a point of entry in a marketplace filled with gatekeepers.
Many of the shorts at this year's festival are written, directed, produced and sometimes star talented young people in the industry. Some are proving concepts and skills, and their “how-I-got-it-made stories” are perhaps as interesting as the stories they present on screen.
Stay turned for more on that. In my next article, I’ll focus on a handful of the shorts screened here, how they got made, got funded, and the inspiration behind them.
For now, I’ll tell you more of what I learned from Dennis on how these movies are presented to the public at NBFF.
First the programming staff evaluate all the shorts submitted and give any that measure up to their standards a green light. Dennis and his staff do not evaluate a given film based on anything other than its quality. If they have two films of similar content, say two surf movies, for example, they do NOT pick one over the other:
If both are good, then they both get in. And there's no limit. The staff look for good films; that's the judging rubric. And when they find a good short, the movie is in.
Once the films are selected, Dennis and his staff begin a process he calls, “curating.” The staff looks for thematic and other similarities they can identify and quantify so that each short can be classified and placed in a category unique to each year.
The only rule for category creation is that the title must contain the word, “short”. Here’s some examples: “Put on Your Dancing Shorts”; “Not Short on Romance”; “Laugh Loud and Short”; Short and Troubled”; and, my personal favorite, “Older Not Shorter.”
Each of these curated groupings can contain any number of short films, but the total screen time must add up 90 minutes (give or take a few). That way, the specific group of short films can screen in a normal theater time slot with a customary ticket price.
It’s a great methodology and gives the programmers what must be some seriously fun “spit ball” meetings. The result is one of the richest short programming menus you’ll find in any film festival.