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Top 5 Places to Watch Short Films for Free

How to become a screenwriter. Screenplay Contests. Screenwriting Contests.

By Lee Hamilton.

 

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A short film is one of the best calling cards a writer can have. Not only is it easier to get a short produced, but some would say it’s so much more convenient for someone to watch a short film that visually showcases your talent than it is for them to read your feature-length script.

Writing short films is a great way to practice the craft of screenwriting too. The format comes with inherent limitations, thereby forcing writers to be more creative and encouraging innovative ways to tell their stories. And what’s more, an on-screen credit can go a long way to help you gain representation, and having your short film shown at festivals is an ideal way to get lots of industry professionals’ eyes on your work.

Writing a short film is an art form all to itself, but a great way to start getting to grips with the format is by watching some. Don’t you just love it when you get to watch movies and write it off as doing ‘research’!

 

Here are our top 5 online sites for viewing shorts for free to get you started.

 

How to become a screenwriter. Screenplay Contests. Screenwriting Contests.

Short of the Week is a well-established platform for showcasing free-to-view shorts available via their website, but also on their YouTube Channel. Premiering new short films every week, this site is one of the most up-to-date sources where you can find recently released shorts. The site aims to be a launchpad for filmmakers, making this a prime scouting ground for industry professionals looking for the next generation of storytellers.

Pros:

  • Shorts are free to watch.
  • Films are uploaded frequently.
  • There is a huge selection of films available.
  • The website is slick and appealing.

Cons:

  • The ability to search feels very limited.
  • Has award-winning shorts, but you have to hunt for them.

 

How to become a screenwriter. Screenplay Contests. Screenwriting Contests.

FilmDoo is a great place to find international short (and feature) films of all types. There’s a community aspect to the site, and following, sharing, and commenting are encouraged. It’s free to sign up and you can watch for free or rent films. There’s a vast selection of movies with the ability to tailor your search easily. 

Pros:

  • Has multiple search options.
  • Search results can also be filtered to aid your search even more.
  • Films are uploaded regularly.
  • There’s a huge catalog of movies to choose from.
  • You don’t have to sign up to start watching.
  • The community aspect allows for lots of interaction.
  • Members can review and request movies.
  • Rental prices are very reasonable.

Cons:

  • Relies on films being hosted externally, such as on Vimeo or YouTube, etc.

 

How to become a screenwriter. Screenplay Contests. Screenwriting Contests.

Film Shortage is an online short film cinema that’s been well known for some time. It’s hard to gauge just how many films it offers from the website alone, and they have a Vimeo Channel too. The Daily Picks feature provides fresh content on a consistent level. The site is clearly a go-to place for upcoming filmmakers, hosting many online premieres and Film Shortage exclusives.

Pros:

  • Daily Picks allows for consistent fresh content.
  • Their blog has a nice selection of articles, news, guides, etc.
  • Films are free to watch.

Cons:

  • Has a basic search function without filters.
  • Relies on films being hosted externally, such as on Vimeo or YouTube, etc.

 

How to become a screenwriter. Screenplay Contests. Screenwriting Contests.

Vimeo has got to be one of the most well-known video hosting platforms online, only coming second to Youtube. Don’t be put off by the way they push their subscription packages on their homepage. This is aimed at content uploaders, not watchers! Staff Picks are the best place to start, as there’s just so much content, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Pros:

  • 15k+ videos available, but that’s a mix of free and paid content.
  • Staff picks frequently pick the cream of the crop for you.
  • Info on a film’s views, likes, and comments are easily accessible.
  • The ability to refine searches by category, date, duration, price, and license.

Cons:

  • A somewhat confusing homepage that pushes subscriptions.
  • Info about an uploaded film varies in detail as it’s up to the uploader to add this content.
  • Searches aren’t intuitive, so you can waste a lot of time doing them.

 

How to become a screenwriter. Screenplay Contests. Screenwriting Contests.

Think Shorts showcases independent short films, which are all free to watch. They also have a great ‘Behind the Short’ section hosting exclusive interviews with filmmakers. Films are listed in order of the number of likes they’ve received, but there’s also a wide variety of ways to search for films, including by year, by awards, and by subject.

Pros:

  • Lots of recently released films.
  • Free to watch.
  • Exclusive interviews with writers.
  • Lots of international content.

Cons:

  • The ‘Load More’ button isn’t ideal and has to be re-clicked when you go back a page.
  • Exclusive interviews with writers are very short.
  • Relies on films being hosted externally, such as on Vimeo or YouTube, etc.


Not quite hitting our Top 5, but certainly still worth a mention is…

How to become a screenwriter. Screenplay Contests. Screenwriting Contests.

shortfil.ms has a well-crafted curated collection of short films from around the world, updating with at least one new film every day. There are enough movies listed to keep you busy for quite some time (175,9 hours to be precise!) The search feature is fairly basic, but there’s the fun option to select a length (and/or genre) and have random films suggested for you.

Pros:

  • Free to watch.
  • The website is simple but slick.
  • A large catalog of short films.
  • Lots of international content.

Cons:

  • Unable to search by release date.
  • Relies on films being hosted externally, such as on Vimeo or YouTube, etc.

 

Hopefully, there’s enough here to keep you entertained, inspired, and educated all at the same time. Take notes on what stories engage you, what puts you off, and what films are most memorable (and why), and try to apply it to your own writing.

Experiment, break the rules, or keep things ultra-simple, just keep writing!

 


Lee Hamilton is a script reader, developer, and author. Lee was one of the original readers to join Shore Scripts and has since moved into education and development, penning numerous articles, workbooks, and writing courses.

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