Many beginner/novice wannabe filmmakers think you have to have the biggest budget, the best equipment, and a huge crew to make a short-film. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. All you really need is a little bit of patience and a great story. Here is a list of 6 Independent short films that will inspire you to create your own movies!
Mortal Kombat: Rebirth
Let me start this off by saying I am a huge Mortal Kombat fan. When this short film was released back in 2010, I must have watched it 20 times in one day. This film was directed by Kevin Tancharoen and was his attempt at bringing more realism and grittiness to this classic story. Even though this movie starred a few bigger name actors it was still independently created by someone who just wanted to tell his take on the story. This film was such a big hit that it spawned a whole YouTube series and eventually led to the new Mortal Kombat movie released in 2021.
Essence is a relatively new short film and the first production from Jake Weisler of the Full-time Filmaker YouTube channel. It was just recently released this year (2021) and was based on a simply premise; what if a string of disastrous events (COVID-19, riots, etc.) caused a shortage of water and one mans journey to find his family and water, the Essence of life. This film is a great example that you don’t need a huge crew, tons of editors, crazy special effects, and a ton of the most expensive equipment to pull off a great movie. Yes, this film was made using the RED Weapon Dragon 4K but a project like this could easily be shot on an entry-level DSLR. In this film like many of the others on this list, the story is king.
They also released a behind the scenes video showing the filming process, the casting, etc. and if you would like to check that out, click here.
Tell is a fantastic thriller short film by Triune Films. It was written, directed, shot and edited by Ryan Connolly who you might know from the popular Film Riot YouTube channel. Even though this amazing movie was released back in 2012, the visuals, color grading, and more importantly, the story still hold up today. I am personally not a huge fan of horror/creepy-thriller movies but this one had me on the edge of my seat. Here is the official synopsis:
“Gripped by the fear of possible repercussions and tortured by the guilt of his violent actions, Taylor seeks to hide his sins in hopes that they will go unnoticed and become no more than a dirty little secret… However, his plan quickly falls apart when he begins to see menacing visions and the line between reality and paranoia becomes blurred…Is it all in his head or can the dead truly take revenge?”
If you loved the visual styling of Tell, you will also love another short film by Triune called Proximity. This one is a bit shorter than the Tell film but the action is off the charts, the story is super compelling and the super ending got me the first time I watched it! A few things I would pay close attention to in this film are the aspect ratio, the grading, the action sequences and the sound design. If you are in to creating a movie that is in the same genre of Stephen King, this is it!
If you have never heard of Casey Neistat, you have probably been living under a rock. He is was basically the King of YouTube at one point and was made popular by his daily vlogs. In one of these vlogs, he finalized a short film about the experience of living in New York City during a freezing winter and a sweltering summer. Both versions of a day during these two seasons are told in this film and you can see how, just like in the Essence example, the story or idea is king. No major fancy equipment was used here but the story and the execution of that story is simply perfect.
This short film was a part of this vlog episode so to skip right to Snow Day, go to the 2:15 timecode.
Portal: No Escape
In the last inspirational film in this post, we are going to talk about Portal, yes the video game. This short film by Dan Trachtenberg was based off the popular game and shows you just how compelling a simple story can be. Obviously this film doesn’t cover the entire game but the visuals are great and it does leaving you wanting more!