Short Films … Big Ideas …
Watch the Filmmakers of Tomorrow, Today on ImageMakers
Celebrating its 13th season in 2015, ImageMakers is KQED’s weekly series that showcases short films by the moviemakers of tomorrow. Each episode allows viewers to see for the first time short narrative works by emerging filmmakers who could become the next Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, or Francis Ford Coppola. The films represent a wide array of genres, including some of the most creative comedies, cutting-edge animations, intense thrillers and gripping dramas produced by independent filmmakers today. Many of the filmmakers have gone on to make feature films including Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air), Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre, and True Detective on HBO), and Neill Blomkamp (District 9).
Short films get little exposure outside of film festivals. ImageMakers provides a rare venue (and for many, the television premiere) for these award-winning films. In eleven years, ImageMakers has showcased an amazing 429 films from 37 countries. The 2015 season features 32 films from 12 countries.
“I’m looking for films with a strong visual style, tight script and high production values,” says series producer and KQED Public Television program director Scott Dwyer. “Twilight Zone was one of my favorite television series. The creative and concise way it told a story and its impact is something I try to replicate with ImageMakers. My goal is to inspire future filmmakers and provide viewers with films that will leave a long-lasting impression.”
Most filmmakers use shorts as a calling card to make feature films. Often operating under tight time constraints and lacking the big budgets of features, these emerging filmmakers have to be creative in the way they tell their stories. Short films aren’t expected to make any money, so filmmakers can express their own vision without trying to please a wide audience. They are not afraid to break the rules and conventions of storytelling. This can result in innovative, powerful and memorable films.
Shorts have always played an important role in film history. In fact, the first movies ever made were short films. Shorts have evolved from those shown in the nickelodeons at the turn of the century to Saturday afternoon serials and cartoons to today’s music videos. Shorts remain a vital art form that provides filmmakers with a creative outlet for refreshingly original ideas. And new digital technology (cameras, special effects tools, and editing systems) makes it less costly for people to make great-looking films that rival the quality of Hollywood features.
Mr. Dwyer attends the top short film festivals in North America and Europe, including Aspen, Clermont-Ferrand (France), Palm Springs, and Toronto. In addition, he is in contact with numerous other festivals and film schools around the world. He watches an eye-popping 2,000 shorts each year.
The series’ website offers detailed descriptions of each episode, links to the filmmakers’ websites and opportunities to view some of the films again online. Most important, the ImageMakers site allows viewers to watch films online in the Screening Room to Vote for their favorite films. “This enables me,” Dwyer emphasizes, “to know which films resonate with KQED’s audiences and which types of films I need to be on the lookout for the next season. Some of the films definitely push the envelope. I don’t expect people to like each film, but they really appreciate what KQED is trying to do with this series. They say there is nothing else like it on television.”
In addition to ImageMakers, KQED is now producing a national public television series called Film School Shorts that features the best short films coming out of American film schools. Be sure to check it out as well.
Marie K Lee
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