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The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in the US define a short film as a movie less than forty minutes in length, while the British Academy of Film reckon they can be no longer than half an hour. Whatever the correct definition, one thing’s for sure, done right they can pack a real punch. The question is how? To find this out, and more, we asked Nokia Music Short Film Competition judges to share their expertise. Trevor Groth is the Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival and Mike Plante is the founder of indie distributor Cinemad Presents. Here’s what they had to say.

Short films are something of an underrated genre. What do you like about them and how would you sell the idea of watching one to somebody who’s never had the pleasure.

Short films have all the excitement and power feature films have – deep drama, hilarious comedy, action, documentary, animation. Just in bite-sized form. Everyone already watches short films – TV episodes, music videos, online comedy skits, even commercials. Short films take more risks though, in style and story.

Which one short film should every budding filmmaker watch and and why?

There is no single short that speaks to everyone, but FAST FILM is a great love letter to cinema that will remind you of film history, the power of story, and will inspire you to make films.

An increasing number of people are making mobile movies.  What are the advantages and challenges, you think, in using a smartphone for short filmmaking?

Being able to get around fast and still get a quality image while using real locations as a backdrop.

How do you think smartphones might affect movie making in the coming years?

For a certain kind of short, like a documentary or a music video, the amount of access is incredible. You can film something at all times in most lighting situations.

What three top tips would you give to people looking to win the Nokia Music Short Film Competition?

Be creative with a story or characters – pretty pictures alone aren’t enough.

However, create images that feel special and unique to your film.

And “short” is the optimal word, make sure the run time is what’s best for your film, not too long.


Some fantastic tips from guys who’ve been there and done that. If you want to put their words of wisdom into action, why not enter our Nokia Music Short Film Competition. Launched in association with Sundance London, the brief is simple: To showcase the amazing, the unusual and the unknown music happening underground around the world.


Filmmakers need to simply upload a short 15 to 60 secs video trailer by March 14th visualizing the underground music scene in their chosen city. Think of this trailer as an audition, which showcases your concept. If your idea is chosen, you’ll receive two Nokia Lumia 920s and a $5,000 budget to shoot your film. What’s more, both films are guaranteed a special screening at the Sundance London Film & Music Festival (2013) in April, and one lucky grand prizewinner will walk away with $5,000 and a Nokia Lumia 920.

Think you’ve got what it takes? Then why not start making short movie magic today!

Image credit: Vancouver Film School