The Toronto Short Film Festival will be held at the Carlton Cinema. (Vanessa Francone/Ryersonian Staff)

It may be easy to write a 3,000-word essay, but what if someone told you to cut that essay down to 500 words? Would you be able to do it and still get your argument across? This is the scenario for short film directors — how to get their story across without the luxury of time.

In its second year of production, the Toronto Short Film Festival (TSFF) provides a creative outlet for local and international film directors.

Ryerson Theatre School graduate Chris Baker is using the TSFF as practice for filmmaking. His film Spun is the first he has.

“I would not have been given experience on a big film set, so I figured out how to do (filmmaking) in a smaller setting,” Baker said.

He wrote the script, starred in the film, co-produced and directed it. He said it was his passion project and is excited for people to see it because “any audience is a good audience.”

Steve Veale, the festival’s director, said the idea for the TSFF began when he saw interest in the short films market at the TO Indie Film Festival last year. The indie festival screens two features per night, with a block of shorts in the middle. According to Veale, there was a big crowd for the shorts, which showed an obvious demand. “We were packed opening night (onwards),” he said. “We had to turn people away, which is amazing to me.”

Filmmakers from around the world can submit their film, music video or documentary for viewing at the TSFF.
A jury reviews the footage and then chooses the best ones. This year, there were over 500 submissions, but only 80 pieces of work will be showcased March 14-18 at the Carlton Cinema.

Evan Jerred, a sound designer, has worked as a technician for various film festivals and ensures the films presented look and sound like they’re supposed to. Jerred said short films are important because of the practice you get from creating them.

“If a feature film makes no money, then that’s not good. A short (film) is less of an investment,” Jerred said.
The budget of a short film can vary and depend on the director, but most can be made with no money. “It’s not about the sales, but about the opportunity to explore creatively,” Jerred said.

Veale said that the art of making short films seems to be underappreciated, but the TSFF helps provide “a venue of a voice” for independent filmmakers. In the Internet age, when people may not have time to sit through a feature-length film, short films come in handy.

“If you don’t like a film, wait 10 minutes for the next one,” Veale said. Whether you’re into sci-fi, horror flicks or musicals, the TSFF has something for everyone.

“You see a film here and in 10 years, you see that filmmaker getting an Oscar,” he said. “That’s kind of cool.”

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