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Many festivals now feature a shorts program. A few and growing number of festivals are dedicated to shorts. I recently served as a jurist and volunteer for the DCShorts Film Festival in its 4th year. Of about 500 films submitted from 14 different countries, 89 were in the final program. (Ive heard Sundance gets 12,000 submissions.)
Outside of festivals, it is hard to see a program of packaged shorts. There is a trend to the theatrical release of films that comprise from a few to many shorts. But its building very slowly, 1, 2, 3 per year. I thought the recent Paris, Je Taime was excellent, but most of the episodes were more for an art house crowd (not the vampire episode, which was brilliant; Wes Craven also directed an episode, about romance, not horror interestingly).
So many of the best short films are highly entertaining and huge crowd pleasers. However, few have recognizable stars, which is a problem for distributors. I think this area is ripe for entrepreneurs (with venture capital of course) who have the passion to collect a best of from the short film fest circuit, and convince the next up and coming New Line Cinema type of company (independent film distributors) to put the show in major cinemas across the land.
I spoke with several filmmakers at the DCShortsFest about packaging, including makers of some of the best films. They are clueless about banding with other filmmakers re mass theatrical or DVD distribution and often they are maxing out credit cards to do what they do, make their own short film. It is a whole other enterprise and skill set to get the mass distribution. Have you ever seen in the few remaining video stores a section on short films??? (However, many filmmakers come to fests showing their films with free DVDs of their films; all you have to do is hang out with them and talk about their film.)
It would be hard to get filmmakers together and work out contracts and rights and etc. to launch a composite of great short films by basically nobodies, of which some definitely have the potential to be part of the next generation of great directors. There is no template for this, but an entrepreneur with patience, passion, and bucks could make it happen. It could start with a co-op of filmmakers in a single location, like NYC, Sydney, or Topeka.
There may be a few fests that do something like this, package a selection of the best of the fest and make it available to the public. Please let us know if you find any.
If you put Northwest Film Center (NWFC, Portland, Oregon, USA) in your search engine, you will find a link to their Film Festival and how they make a best collection available for schools, museums, and the like. In the late 90s, I ran a film society in that area called the Impromptu Film Society or IFS (no buts or ands, only ifs) and for several years the NWFC rented the annual bests collection for IFS showings. The rental fee was negligible. These were great collections originating in the Northwestern States and adjacent Canadian Provinces (e.g., including the great filmmaking center of Vancouver B.C.). You might try networking with NWFC to see if they are aware of packages of shorts from any film fests that might be available to the public; maybe even from them.
REGARDS … TOM 8)