Everybody knows about features, and features tend to be the ones that are most commonly talked about and watched. 

Whether five minutes or forty, short films prove to be a lesson for every aspiring filmmaker. Short films show how to tell a complete story in a short amount of time, with a small budget, and with the resources, you have at hand.

Concise storytelling, great performance, and original concepts are few things found common amongst the best short films.

Watching films as a filmmaker is like reading books as an author. Watching films helps filmmakers learn and grow these skills and even if just subconsciously, they get inspired. 

For young filmmakers, watching, studying, and making short films is nothing short than a perfect start. They not only teach you how to tell a story in a shorter amount of time but also how to put everything together with fewer resources.  

You may have already watched shorts like Rogan Josh and Mumbai Varanasi Express, but today we will take a look at some of the classics.

Here are some short films from different genres which might help you to learn more about short films –


Drama Short Films

1. “Hair and Brimstone” by KickthePJ

A twenty minutes short film by British YouTuber PJ Ligouri, “Hair and Brimstone.” It tells the story of a hair salon that during the day, caters to the likes of the normal. But at night, it caters to the strange and abnormal in from “the Dark Place.” 

When a hairball goes out of control, the staff has to figure out how to deal with it.

This short film–as with any by PJ–is a lesson in never doubting the absurdity of your idea. “Hair and Brimstone” is lit brilliantly and amazingly to tell the darker side of the story. 

The props are amazing, the set design is cool, and the whole story works together amazingly. This is also one of PJ’s darkest films, widely different from his other films, but still with the KickthePJ style.


2.Glory At Sea

Glory At Sea, directed by Ben Zeitlin shows his clever idea to catapult his name into the ranks of serious directors. It went on to helm Beasts of the Southern Wild which earned him Academy Award nominations for directing, writing, and best picture.

This film is great as it plays with reality and the tragedy of death in such a unique way it’s no wonder this is one of the best ever.


Comedy Short Film

3. Greener Grass

Greener Grass, directed by Paul Briganti, makes fun of materialism and social competition in a way that doesn’t hold back.

Being accepted by the SCSW film festival, the film has a smart theme, irony, and a bite-size premise.

Horror Short Film

4.Cutting Moments

Cutting Moments gives a truly disturbing cinematic experience. The film chooses to show our own need to be loved and please as the ultimate horror rather than having a supernatural evil.

We don’t want to give any huge details away, but if you love horror but are tired of jump scares and raspy trailer voices, check out this short film. It will also help you understand, how to instill panic amongst your audience. 


Sci-fi Short Film

5. Trip To The Moon

Out of the hundreds of films this Godfather of cinema completed, this is the one that has stood the test of time.

The story is this, a group of astronomers explores the surface of the moon. In doing so, they encounter the natives of the moon and return to the earth with a captive.

This short film, Trip to the moon, is cutting-edge special effects… for the time – 1905. There is not one piece of audible dialogue that shows how great the writing behind it is. 

Animated Short Film

6.Geri’s Game

The concept of Geri’s Game is that an older man plays chess with himself in the park.  So simple that it might seem boring, right? 

So how did Pixar tell this story? 

By having the man assume he’s playing the multiple characters in the chess match.

The simple concept, great animated performance, and compelling storytelling are indeed amazing. It works to make this academy award-winning short film as one of the best. 

Experimental Short Film

7. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge 

The short film was part of a special presentation on an episode of The Twilight Zone seventy years after it was made. Adapted and directed by Roberto Enrico, the film’s simple story is told in a jarring and original manner.

The film won at the Cannes Film Festival. Additionally, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge received both the BAFTA and the Academy Award for the Best Live Action Short film.


Documentary Short Film

8. Night And Fog

Archival footage from all over Europe was blended with writing and structure by Alain Resnais to create this short film.

It uses motion pictures and stills to give a no-nonsense look at the horrors of the Holocaust.

This wasn’t the first film to detail the atrocities of the Second World War.

So what makes it so great?

It is considered to be one of the best short documentaries due to the structure of the film. The story is structured in an essay form yet it tells a complete story around a gripping subject.

A beautiful telling of a nightmarish story.

9. The Death of Kevin Carter

This superb short film paints a tragic portrait of the life of a journalist. The film is only 27 minutes long but packs a punch that many feature-length films lack.

The film is based around the suicide of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Kevin Carter who had lost a close friend recently. 

It thoroughly examines Carter’s life and the documentary short shows the amount of research that went behind it, making it worthy of its Oscar nominations.

10.Knife Skills

This Oscar-nominated short film of 2017 is one of the few documentary short films that deliver a message of hope and redemption.

This short film follows a simple story of a restaurateur trying to open the best French restaurant in America.  

The catch? 

The restaurant is staffed with ex-convicts that have a few weeks to learn kitchen skills and change their lives.

As a filmmaker, you will learn a lot about story structure through this film.

Its funny at times, and even makes you frustrated how life can take a bad turn, and an all-around pleasure to watch.