Mini movie mogul hoping for Oscar success says Covid wasn’t all bad for short films

C

ovid has been a horror show for the movie industry. 

Cinemas have been forced to close, blockbuster releases delayed and filming schedules cancelled in the face of lockdowns and travel bans. 

But one London producer today says the pandemic had provided an unexpected boon for one corner of the industry – short films.

Traditionally seen as the little sister of the mainstream movie industry, where directors learn their craft before graduating to full length features, short films are getting their time in the sun, according to Carter Pilcher, chief executive of distributer and producer ShortsTV.

His company produces and distributes short films from around the world. 

It sells them to pay TV subscribers in the Americas, Europe and India, enabling it to find and fund new talent.

He says the amount of spare time people have had during lockdowns has led hundreds of thousands of them to try out short films for the first time.

The rising number of TV platforms around the world mean they can access services via payTV and try them for the first time.

ShortsTV has seen customer numbers jump in many countries around the world, particularly India, where subscriber numbers are up 35%.

“When our audiences have time on their hands, we’ve seen them say: ‘I’m exhausted with watching the big networks on TV – let’s try something new like ShortsTV instead.  

“We have seen a growth in numbers of short film fans in 2020 that would have taken years to grow in normal times.”

He admits to losing some customers as people ditched their cable channels in the US but says growth is now coming via the digital providers, particularly Amazon. 

He has recently signed deals to distribute ShortsTV through Amazon Prime to audiences in the UK, Holland, Italy and Spain, while his latest platform deal in India sees his service offered potentially to 342 million Airtel mobile customers.

The vast, movie loving nation of India was also providing cause for celebration at ShortsTV today because an Indian short documentary called Tailing Pond had just qualified for consideration to be nominated for an Oscar. 

The film is about the horrendous impact uranium mining has on an east Indian community and is voiced over by Sex In the City star Cynthia Nixon.  Director Saurav Vishnu is from the region where thousands of children are falling sick and dying from radioactive waste pollution.

ShortsTV has the exclusive distribution rights.

Pilcher, an astronautical engineer-turned-banker-turned film executive, says: “Tailing Pond is just an amazing story and would have been lost in India were it not for Cynthia Nixon picking it up and saying – hey, I’m going to lend my name and be part of this.”

The story, from such a remote region, told by local people, would probably never have been heard in the old days before streaming and digital TV channels. 

“As the world has more and more platforms, more voices can enter the global conversation that would never have been heard…


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