Hotel Chavalier, dir. Wes Anderson
When only starting out in the industry, many filmmakers still search for their own unique style and their early efforts are usually far from perfect. Although we could easily list the mistakes plaguing their first films, it’s hard to overstate how brilliant many of them were. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the short films directed by now-famous directors that we believe you ought to watch.
In 1992, Wes Anderson shot Bottle Rocket, a short film telling the story of Anthony who, shortly after leaving a mental institution, teams up with a friend to plan a heist. The black-and-white film premiered at the Sundance Festival and bears little resemblance to that distinctive Wes Anderson style we all know. After a warm reception at Sundance, the director and the film’s star and co-creator Owen Wilson decided to shoot a full-length version of the story, which was finally released in 1998.
By no means was this Anderson’s last foray into the short film genre. To create a “prologue” for his film The Darjeeling Express, the director shot Hotel Chevalier, a brief story of a rendezvous between two characters from the full-length feature.
Christopher Nolan’s fondness for science fiction and blending it with philosophical themes could already be seen in his three-minute-long 1997 short Doodlebug. The film tells the story of a man trying to kill a small bug moving around his room. When he finally finds the insect, it turns out that it has a very surprising form.
Lick the Star is Sofia Coppola’s short about high school. The film exhibits that same gentle storytelling style that would go on to become a future trademark of her directing.
In 1967, Martin Scorsese set out to shoot a film about the mundane act of shaving. Like any aspiring talented filmmaker, he decided to portray the act itself in a specific and metaphorical way.
Years later, Scorsese returned to the short form with his 2015 film Audition, boasting a star-studded cast including Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Brad Pitt. All three actors play themselves in a story that sees them vie for the leading role in Scorsese’s latest movie. The short is a bona fide gem!
Along with his DP Paweł Pogorzelski, Ari Aster has shot a number of short films the ingeniousness of which is nothing short of extraordinary. One of those shorts, The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, is a story of a man involved in a highly unusual relationship with his father. The film will have you rubbing your eyes and disbelief and will stay with you for a long time after the end credits roll.
The stop-motion animation Vincent is one of Burton’s first films. The short tells the story of a seven-year-old boy who’s a die-hard fan of Vincent Price. As he tries his best to resemble his idol, the boy does not realize that his efforts might result in some unexpected fears. The animation already demonstrates many elements of what we would come to recognize as Burton’s signature style, defining much of his future output.