The right length for a film?

How long is a piece of string?

How long?

“How long is left?” is the question that everyone asks when they don’t know where they are going.

It is the sort of question a prospective client might ask themselves when waiting for a film to finish, if they do not want to go to the end of the journey or are possibly not excited by the pay off at the end. The irony here is that the film-maker has spent a much longer period in the planning and making of the film before anyone even views it.

One of the main concerns of a film-maker and storyteller is to use the time given by others efficiently and respectfully. In a world where there is probably more video uploaded in a day than a single person could view in their lifetime, it is important that the film-maker sees that the “exchange” of information & entertainment with the viewer is a good one. The message must be worth their journey time. However, one can look at the metrics on a site like Vimeo to see how many people watch a film through to the end and it is a lot less than one would expect or like.

But how does one know how long a film should be?

Recently we have made several short films in areas ranging from being informative and educational to informative and marketing driven. The common element among these films has been the need to get information across in a way that makes both sense and impact. The answer for “how long” is in the film architecture, the planning for purpose.

In the case of these short films, the purpose has been to contain a story which joins information and ideas to inform the viewer, with the aim of educating them or influencing them to do something like buy a pair of shoes or go for medical examination. Just as some physical architectural designs are better suited for certain purposes e.g. a house vs. a warehouse, so it is with film architectures. They are all specific for what they are meant to contain.

So the answer to the “How long?” question is …… it depends.

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