With the rise of short-form video social media platforms like TikTok and other apps/sites beginning to incorporate similar video features could this represent a new opportunity for short filmmakers?
In this article, we will look at how social media could nurture a new generation of filmmakers. We will also analyse the possible ways that social media videos could change short films. First though, here is a brief overview of the evolution of social media videos.
Social Media Video: In Brief
Videos were part of or incorporated into many early social media platforms like Myspace, Friendster and Facebook in the noughties. However, when Vine was released in 2013 it caused short-form videos to become a huge part of the cultural conversation. Even as Vine declined other social media sites began incorporating Vine-esque short videos into their platform. Like with Instagram and Snapchat’s stories feature.
Then TikTok began taking over the market by allowing users to upload videos up to 15 seconds. Its appeal inspired the likes of YouTube Shorts, Facebook and Instagram Reels. As TikTok continued growing it began allowing the production of longer videos. Now it allows users to upload videos up to 10 minutes in length. Additionally, Instagram now allows the release of reels that can last up to 15 minutes.
With videos now a key focus of social media filmmakers have begun being factored into conversations. For example, TikTok has sponsored the Cannes Film Festival for the past two years. Establishing TikTok as a brand interested in the film world in users’ minds. They even had an award show at the festival for shorts made on their platform to get filmmakers to engage with them.
Beyond the branding many of these apps also have their own editing features and even allow for the creation of basic effects like green screening. Allowing newcomers a way to learn basic filmmaking skills without needing expensive editing and effects software. Their networking capabilities also provide ways for film workers to interact and plan future collaborations. And with many platforms offering their own video features it allows several avenues for prospective filmmakers to showcase their work.
Reels of Change?
So if the social media landscape attracts filmmakers how could this affect short films? With content length on each platform varying, there is great potential for variety. Although short-form content is what platforms like TikTok are known for, it’s likely we will see a major focus on extremely short films. This would act as a great way to showcase the value of economic storytelling, with filmmakers needing to really consider what they need to do to make such a short story work. Also as many of these platforms’ algorithms guide users toward similar content it makes for great opportunities for audience interaction. Which could help open filmmakers to other viewpoints that could help produce a more inclusive and open industry.
There are also potential downsides. Many social media/video platforms have been known to filter out content from marginalised creators. As well as give content that is already popular a huge push. It therefore can still really limit how many creators interact with the community. Additionally, if proper balances are not implemented it does offer a potentially bigger platform for hateful content. And with such a huge number of users looking to get eyes on their work, it does run the risk of funnelling artists towards creating sensationalised content. Rather than encouraging creative experimentation.
It essentially runs the risk of reproducing many industry problems (in social and creative media). Whether it yields anything positive we will have to see.