By Greg Pak
I’ll say it again: Make it shorter. It’ll almost always be much, much better.
My first cut of “Fighting Grandpa” was 60 minutes long. I though I was nearly done. But the film was virtually unwatchable to anyone outside of the immediate family. The final film was 21 minutes long, has played in 40 festivals and won 20 awards.
Furthermore, the shorter your film is, the less expensive the sound mix, transfers, prints & dubs are. Makes a considerable difference in the end.
Finally, the shorter a short is, the more festival exposure it will get. Programmers like films under 20 minutes. They really like films under 10 minutes. They love films under 5. The shorter a film is, the more flexibility they have in scheduling it — a great three minute film can be programmed just about anywhere, in any number of shorts programs or in front of an appropriate feature. But a 30 minute film, no matter how great, is usually too long to go ahead of a feature and needs a couple of other very carefully chosen, thematically similar shorts to become part of a shorts program.
Of course, if your film is perfect at 40 minutes, so be it. If it’s great, it will find its audience. But if you have a 20 minute film hidden in that 40 minute fine cut, please, please, do yourself a favor and find it.
By Greg Pak