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24 Short Films Of Famous Directors You Can Watch On Youtube

28 January 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

director short films

Every director needs to start somewhere. You don’t start your career with a mega-hit but work up to it. Despite having some big name films to their credit, these famous directors were still nobody when they made the short films presented here.

It’s interesting to watch the very first films made by these great directors. You would probably guess right about who made what, because even in their earliest stage of filmmaking, these directors already made films with their own trademarks. Some short films here are even precursors to their first feature films.

Because all of these films were made as very low budget films, some were even made when they were film school students, the video quality of some shorts are very poor. You can’t complain, you should feel lucky to see all of them on Youtube. Let’s have a look at some of the greatest short films ever made.


24. My Best Friend’s Birthday (1987) by Quentin Tarantino

We will never see this movie in it’s full glory. The final reel of this movie was destroyed in a lab fire that broke out during editing and the only surviving parts were edited together to make this 34 minutes short movie. Still you never get the feeling that you’re ever really missing any sequences while watching this movie.

This is a Tarantino movie alright. It has some absolutely amazing dialog. The story isn’t really about much but the dialog makes sure that this movie is an interesting enough one to watch. The line ‘Your ass is grass, and I’m the lawnmower.’, right before two persons get into a fight, is an absolute classic. The movie is interestingly told and divided in several different parts, in the same style as “Pulp Fiction”. This movie would latter also form the basis for Tarantino’s script for “True Romance”.


23. Bedhead (1991) by Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez is largely known for the story behind his first movie (El Mariachi), but before he broke in, he was a feverish auteur of small comedies mostly featuring his family (they’re cheap and available, you see).

Bedhead follows his daughter, Rebecca, who sustains a head injury while trying to take revenge on cheeky brother David for vandalising her doll.

A knock to the head results in psychic powers that she uses to torture him, but soon things turn even weirder.


22. Vincent (1982) by Tim Burton

Tim Burton and future regular collaborator Rick Heinrichs came up with with this chunk of creepy fun, which finds young Vincent Malloy craving to be more like his hero, Vincent Price.

Tim Burton’s homage to one of the greatest horror actors that ever lived is an adorably animated little poem. You can really sense Burton’s respect.

Vincent is a must for all Burton or Price fans and recommend to anyone else who knows how to appreciate imaginative cinema.


21. The Big Shave (1967) by Martin Scorsese

Long before he was “Martin Scorsese”, Oscar-winning director, Marty got his start making small films with smaller budgets.

While it starts out looking like a ’50s shaving advert, Shave quickly becomes something more as the bloke starts to spill vein-claret like he’s a serial killer.

There are several interpretations of what it all means, but the most common is that it’s a meditation on the Vietnam War, with the credit “The Viet ’67″ at the end.


20. Boy and Bicycle (1956) by Ridley Scott

Boy and Bicycle is an abstract, stream-of-consciousness journey into the mind of “The Boy,” played by Scott’s younger brother Tony. While it may seem like not much happens as we follow Tony through the streets of a smallish English industrial town, the sensation of being inside his head, hearing the sometimes nonsensical interior monologue of a young teenager playing hooky becomes almost hypnotic after a while.

What really stands out about this short film is the early development of Ridley Scott’s visual style. His shot composition is amazing for a first effort; Scott is able to use The Boy’s surroundings, both natural and man-made, to frame his subject skillfully and direct the viewer’s eye to the precise details he wants to emphasize.

Scott also is not afraid to experiment with camera angles, using high or low angle shots to capture The Boy from angles that are at once strange but also oddly natural, all the while keeping in mind the fascinating geometry of whatever might be found in the background.


19. Last Year in Viet Nam (1971) by Oliver Stone

The film shows a man trying to forget his Vietnam Memories by throwing his war-memorabilia (photos, medals) away. Through the story mixed are fragments he shot while stationed in Vietnam. This gives the film some debt.

The movie was shot while he was studying at NYU, a teacher there convinced him to look into his own experience’s for making a good film. Being a Vietnam veteran it was obvious he chose that as a subject. The theme about a veteran trying to cope with his war experiences is a subject that comes back in several of his later movies, particularly in Born on the 4th of July.


18. Within The Woods (1978) by Sam Raimi

A short film by director Sam Raimi, he made it in his college days in hopes of raising money to be able to make his masterful horror film The Evil Dead (1981).

Two couples staying at a country house are terrorized when one of them becomes murderously possessed by evil spirits.

Even with its grainy, home-made quality, Within the Woods is perhaps the greatest horror short ever made. There’s plenty of effectively eerie and dark atmosphere, well-timed shocks, and some bloody-good makeup FX. It’s a gripping little horror picture. Raimi would later spoof scenes from this short in both The Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead II (1987).


17. The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984) by John Lasseter

This is an extraordinary and historic film, however viewers should not assess this film by the standards of current animation, but rather in its (truly ground-breaking) historical context.

This film is the CG animation equivalent of the first flight of the Wright Brothers (which lasted only 12 seconds). Much like that famous first flight in 1903, this 1984 film paved the way for all that has followed.

It is not the first CG animation ever made, but it is the first to feature a plot, characterization and expression, motion blur, and deformations (eg stretching, squashing). When it was demonstrated at the 1984 SIGGRAPH there was a crowd response bordering on hysteria, as nothing even close to this had ever been done before.

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