For many filmmakers, especially ones who are at the stage of just starting off, short films are a much more feasible option to venture into in terms of their scope for experimenting. It is also the more affordable option that can often help filmmakers gain recognition and appreciation through screenings held in film festivals or by streaming them online on multiple available platforms.
Short films are often the first step of their careers but interestingly, many acclaimed filmmakers have gone ahead and expanded their own not-so-popular shorts into full-length feature films that we know of today. Others have also been inspired by other shorts and based their own feature films on them. While many of these feature films go on to be widely successful, the short films that they either grew from or were inspired from are often forgotten. The following is a list of the most interesting short films that were eventually turned into successful feature films!
Before Whiplash could be made into one of the masterpieces of cinema we know of today, it’s not so well known by many how writer/director Damien Chazelle initially lacked sufficient financial funding to make the feature film even after having gained a small level of success and recognition within the industry with a few of his scripts earlier. In order to win the trust of potential producers and receive the right financial backing for the film, Damien shot only one scene from the movie with a little amount of money which also became short to be entered into various film festivals. This well-devised plan worked brilliantly, thus helping him launch his career with Whiplash and eventually even go on to make LaLa Land, a film that fetched him an Oscar.
Back in 2013, director-writer Sriram Raghavan saw L’Accordeur (The Piano Tuner), a 2010 French short film about a blind pianist, at the recommendation of his friend, filmmaker Hemanth M Rao. He liked the film and got inspired to make Andhadhun, a film whose script is based on the short, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu, and Radhika Apte in the lead roles. The film released theatrically in India in October 2018 and was received very well by critics and audiences alike.
In 2005, director Jennifer Kent made a short film named ‘Monster’ that inspired her 2014 horror feature ‘The Babadook’. Called “Baby Babadook” by the director, ‘Monster’ is shot in an eerie black and white reel. While both the films stand true to their gut-wrenching horror, ‘The Babadook’ displays some truly terrifying moments that are far too rare in short-form horror.
Yes God Yes
‘Yes, God, Yes’ is a 2019 comedy feature film written and directed by Karen Maine, co-writer of the 2014 hit comedy Obvious Child. The film starring the excellent Natalia Dyer in the lead is a story of a Catholic teenager in the early ‘00s, who after an innocent AOL chat that turns racy, discovers masturbation and struggles to suppress her urges in the face of eternal damnation. Originally, it was a short film written and directed by Karen Maine herself which premiered in 2017 as a Vimeo Staff Pick. The short received 2.9 million views and also won “Best Short” at the St. Louis International Film Festival. It was after the success of the short that its makers, Karen and producers Katie Cordeal and Colleen Hammond, went ahead to make it into a full-length feature film available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Elements of the 2015 hit film ‘Piku’ are loosely adapted from a short film made in 1980 by none other than the auteur himself – Satyajit Ray. Named ‘Pikoo’, the short was directed by him for a French television channel, France 3. It’s based on a short story named Pikoor Diary (Pikoo’s Diary), written by Ray for one of his books, Pikoor Diary O Onyanyo (Pikoo’s Diary and Other Stories). While Pikoo showcases a day in the life of a six-year-old child, Pikoo, in the backdrop of his mother’s extramarital affair, Soojit Sircar’s quirky comedy ‘Piku’ is about the relationship between a daughter and her aging father whose eccentricities drive everyone crazy and stars Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan and Deepika Padukone in the lead roles.
Created back in 2015, Patrick Jean’s ‘Pixels’ became quite a sensation on YouTube. The brilliantly crafted short film shows New York City invaded by characters from 80s video games: Donkey Kong throws barrels down from the Empire State Building, Tetris blocks cause skyscrapers to vanish, and so on. Its popularity made Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions acquire its rights which then resulted in a feature film in theatres that we know of today.
Short Term 12
Writer and director Destin Daniel Cretton made the short film named ‘Short Term 12’ first before it manifested into the acclaimed feature of the same name. The feature film is an emotional and heart-wrenching indie starring Brie Larson, Kaitlyn Dever, LaKeith Stanfield, and Rami Malek that deals with a group of young instructors at a treatment center for troubled youth. It’s interesting how there are certain similarities in the two versions, most notably Stanfield who appears in both. But the feature is the one that created the main story which involves Larson and Dever’s characters.
What if something lived in the dark that you could only see when you turned out the lights? This simple question became the entire premise of 3-minute low-budget experimentation and gave birth to the short film called ‘Lights Out’ in 2013. Unlike most other shorts, its maker David F. Sandberg didn’t showcase it in any mainstream film festival but instead entered it into a niche horror filmmaking challenge and won a prize. Several months later, studio heads got a whiff of the short streaming on YouTube and Vimeo and after which it went on to become a mega-successful feature-length film of the same name and by the same director.