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The Best Short Films of All Time & What You Can Learn from Them

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/23/2011

A lot of the best short films are animated, but that doesn't mean one cant create a great live action short film. With the right idea, creative skills and vision, a filmmaker can create a great film regardless of what kind it is.

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    Short Film If you are a budding filmmaker, one of the most important things you could do right now is study how the greatest filmmakers of all time achieved their success in storytelling, technical artistry and overall attitude. You can also study individual films and analyze what made them great. From there, you can have a guideline in charting your own course in filmmaking. You can start by making these short films a part of your inspiration. These are some of the best short films of all time. Understand what made them great and learn.

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    Island of Flowers, Directed by Jorge Furtado

    Island of Flowers was released on 1989. This short film follows the journey of an unlikely hero: a spoiled tomato. It is an epic story of how a tomato goes from being picked at the plantation, to becoming food for people, and to becoming feed for pigs. It seems like the dullest topic in the world, and yet an ironic and sometimes heartbreaking story is told by the filmmaker. This short film teaches you that there is always a story being told around you, even in the most unlikely places involving the most unlikely things or people. You just have to keep your eyes open to see it. From this film, filmmakers will realize that making a short film is not just about making a story about what the audience are looking or expecting, but it is making the audience love even the most unexpected film you're going to make.

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    Presto, Directed by Doug Sweetland

    Presto the Magician is a great performer, but he is a poor master to his rabbit. The disgruntled rabbit takes his revenge by sabotaging Presto's act. This animated short film shows how a simple premise such as a vengeful rabbit making life a living hell for his neglectful master can be a very entertaining and visually stunning story. Animated short films are very popular whether they are done with computer graphics or traditional 2D animation. If you are keen on using animation as your storytelling tool, this short film can teach you a lot of things about pacing and comedic timing.

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    Night and Fog, Directed by Alain Resnais

    This unsettling short documentary film focuses on the horrific conditions in Nazi concentration camps. It uses footage both in color and in black and white to bring a stark narrative of how brutal man can be. There have been many films, short and full length, that have shown modern audiences how the second world war began and what horrors millions of people suffered during those times, especially at the hands of Nazi Germany, but this short film focuses particularly on the life people had to live in the concentration camps. As a filmmaker, you can learn that there will always be a new and unique way of interpreting and communicating a story, no matter how many times it has been covered before by other filmmakers.

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    Duck Amuck, Directed by Chuck Jones

    Directed by the legendary Chuck Jones, this animated short film is considered to be one of the greatest pieces of animation of all time. The story involves Daffy Duck and the animator himself. Breaking the fourth wall, Duck Amuck shows the struggle between an animated character and his animator for control. It is an innovative venture into animation and storytelling using animated characters, and it can teach filmmakers that there will always be a chance for innovation and one should always take it.

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    More, Directed by Mark Osborne

    Using clay animation to deliver a psychedelic experience for both the characters and the audience, Mark Osborne is considered one of the masters in the field of animation. This short film, one of the best short films of all time, centers around a factory worker who tries to escape his dull world by inventing a device that give people happiness. It is not a straightforward story, but it is easy to appreciate the short film's visual appeal and storytelling process. As a filmmaker, you can learn that you can use any medium to tell a story. You can offer great visuals, but it all boils down to the story you're are telling and the message you are trying to convey.

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    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons