As Optus’ Connect5 submission date draws closer, and the hype gets realer and realer, some people may be thinking “they want moi to make a five minute movie? About connecting lives? What’s in it for me?” Well, if the chance to win up to USD $30k and a trip to Bangkok isn’t enough (which it really should be, don’t be greedy buddy), then maybe the idea of fame, fortune and a career in cinema may do it for you. Have you ever wondered how great directors became the men and women they are today? Crazily enough, many of them started off with small projects, student films and short films. Here are some directors you may recognise whose short films changed their careers forever.
Tim Burton – Vincent
Before he built up his career playing with clay and creeping out the masses, Burton was… well, actually he was still playing with clay and creeping out the masses – it’s kind of his deal. While Vincent wasn’t Burton’s very first film, it was his first film idea and ultimately set the tone that he would become instantly recognisable for. This film is where Burton defined himself as a director. Vincent is about a very Burton-esque looking seven-year-old boy named Vincent Malloy, who wishes desperately that he was Vincent Price. Oh, Burton, you weird, weird guy. The film is only six minutes long and yet in that time it showcases Burton’s completely unique style. This is a style he would carry with him into Corpse Bride, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Edward Scissorhands. Stop motion animation is very time consuming but by no means unachievable for novice filmmakers, and this style could set filmmakers apart from other directors, just as this short gained Burton a lot of attention very early on in his career.
Jason Reitman – Gulp
Just like Burton’s short, it appears that Jason Reitman has always been into funny films. Known most for his work on Juno, Up In The Air, and Thank You For Smoking, it’s crazy to think that Reitman’s career began only 15 years ago with, what can only be described as, a really funny, super odd, fish thriller. The main character, Francis, buys a fish, but notices it’s quickly dying – because it’s a saltwater goldfish sold in freshwater. Francis must race against time (and the biological laws of fish) to save his little friend facing hilarious hurdles at every point from characters such as “Nurse Bitchface”, “Pet Shop Dictator”, and “Woodsy Freedom Fighter”. This simple seven-minute short helped launch Reitman’s career, especially into the comedy scene, showing his natural talent for making people laugh. It’s really interesting to see how far Reitman has come in such a short time, from such a short film.
James Cameron – Xenogenesis
For someone who likes creating films of HUGE proportions, it may be weird to see
James Cameron’s name on this list. But then again, who said short films have to be small? It turns out that even in the 70s Cameron was making blockbusters – just, like, shorter. Using sound effects that would later create the perfect mood for The Terminator, and debuting ideas that would evolve into the inspiration behind Aliens, Xenogenesis was Cameron’s starting point for the rest of his sci fi work. Xenogenesis is your typical “Adam and Eve” story, with a very untypical sci fi motif; a woman and a cyborg man are sent in a sentient spaceship to search for a place to start new life. It’s amazing to see so many similarities with this short and Cameron’s later work, and it definitely shows that even small ideas you have now could grow and inspire you in the future to be your big hit.
So whether it’s the film that sets your distinctive style, the film that breaks you into your perfect genre, or the film that helps shape your greatest works, the film that you make for Connect5 could be way more than just a short film. This is your chance to make it big, so get filming! Submissions close September 30th.
This article has been sponsored by Optus.