Best Short Film Directors

Some of the best directors in the world today, started with making short films. This for many of them was a pivotal point, helping launch their careers as directors to be taken seriously. One of these directors is Benh Zeitlin who in 2008 made the short film Glory at Sea. He won an award for this at the 2008 South by Southwest festival, which helped launch his subsequent career.

Sofia Coppola made a big impact in 1998 with her short film entitled Lick the Star. It showed the uniqueness of her talents and ability and later led to her success with directing in feature films. Up until 1998 she was not really taken seriously because many people felt that there was nepotism at work because of her famous father. This 1998 film however, proved them wrong, and proved that she was an excellent director in her own right, directing such noteworthy films as Lost in Translation.

Before Stephen Daldry directed the highly internationally successful film Billy Elliot, there was the short film Eight that he directed. This 13 minute short gained this British director a BAFTA nomination in 1999 and helped to lead him onto more successful feature films in later years.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock (8418475y)
Stephen Daldry
BFI Chairman’s Dinner, London, UK – 21 Feb 2017

Jared Hess directed a short film entitled Peluca in 2003. A producer saw his work and suggested he make it into a feature film. From this suggestion came the famous film Napolean Dynamite which helped launch Jared Hess’s future career as a successful director. A few years later in 2006, Martin McDonagh successfully directed the short film Six Shooter. He actually won an Academy Award for this short film which later led him to successfully direct such feature films as Seven Psychopaths. In 2004, Ryan Fleck directed Gowanus, Brooklyn which received a top award at Sundance film festival. This resulted in him directing the film Half Nelson which gained critical acclaim in 2006.

Neill Blomkamp

Some of the best short film directors come from surprising places. Neill Blomkamp is a South African director who gained acclaim for his 2004 short film entitled Alive in Joburg. This caught the attention of Peter Jackson who suggested that the short film be made into a feature film. The result was the film District 9 which received four Academy award nominations. Paul Thomas Anderson received his break after directing his short film Cigarettes and Coffee in 1993. This was adapted into a feature film and established Paul as a critically acclaimed director.

Tim Burton is a famous director today. What few people realize is that his break began in 1984 with the short Frankenweenie. This caught the attention of Steven King and Paul Reubens who offered Tim the chance to direct Pee-Wee’s big adventure. Many movies soon followed this, showcasing Tim Burton’s unique style.

Steven Spielberg is probably one of the most well-known directors alive today. What few realize is that his breakout came with the short film Amblin in 1968. A similarly famous director is Martin Scorsese who first directed the short The Big Shave in 1968. It showcased his bold and unique style and led to his future successes in directing feature films. It is amazing how many famous directors started their careers off by making short films.

Written by: Jamie