When it comes to movies, we usually think big—big actors, big budgets, big screens, and, if lucky, big profits.
Unfortunately, that puts up some big barriers for aspiring young filmmakers and their dreams. However, thanks to easy access to technology, that’s all changing.
All anyone really needs nowadays is a camera, a computer, an Internet connection, and, of course, a good idea. With that, you can enter the microfilm world. Shooting a movie using friends and family as the cast has become a common class project for high school students. After a little editing on a laptop, some even decide their creation is worth sharing online.
Microfilms are shot within a short period of time and last only a few minutes or even shorter. Most are completed on an extremely small budget and offer a cheap way for grassroots directors to realize their dreams.
Once the realm of film festivals, the genre has taken off due to being perfectly suited to new media platforms such as mobile phones and tablet computers. They are also easily shared across social networks and microblogs .
But microfilms are far different from the shorts commonly found on YouTube. A microfilm must have a solid and thought-provoking plot.
Most importantly, the movies are easily distributed and there can be no concern about long-term box office profits.
Most people who upload a microfilm simply see it as an easy way to share their fun with a few friends and family. Others may be curious about what sort of reaction their production may receive from the general public.
In China, video sharing sites like Youku provide a massive audience and the potential to go from nobody to somebody overnight. Such potential has not gone unnoticed by amateur directors. A good microfilm, which gets noticed on a video sharing site, has the power to launch a career into stardom. Recognizing that talent now has a new platform, famous international film festivals are now screening microfilms. They are being acknowledged as pieces of art. Some people believe that keeping a project small—not having too many people involved who may simply want to change the original idea—makes it more authentic, more powerful. This has attracted even the big names in the movie business to start thinking micro.