Attention, Filmmakers: Here’s Why You Should Make Medium-Length Films

“The codified idea of the ‘short’ and ‘feature’ is dated.”

Most audiences think of the feature-length film as 90 minutes or longer. The 30-50 minute “medium length” film has proved something of a conundrum for the American festival and distribution landscape.

But filmmakers who work within those restrictions have found plenty of benefits.

“I don’t know about you,” said Matt Porterfield, when discussing his new 30-minute film “Take What You Can Carry,” “but I’ve always thought of my days as made up of half-hour segments, not hours. It’s a valuable unit of time.”

Regardless of the quality of these long shorts or short features, their chances for maximal visibility are almost immediately diminished from the moment the edit is locked. Programmers must resort to knocking out three or four other contenders to wedge a medium-length film into a shorts block, while acquisition offers remain slimmer than the already negligible pool for more conventionally timed shorts. And yet some of the most exciting work from American independent filmmakers is being produced in this format.

Indiewire spoke with medium-length purveyors Porterfield, Scott Cummings, Jodie Mack, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn to gauge the creative benefits, distribution possibilities and occasional setbacks that accompany a piece of work that falls in and around the 30-minute no man’s land…


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