SCREENSHOT VOL. 1: 5SECONDFILMS
So you want to conquer the web, but you don’t know how? Each week we’ll bring you a story from a filmmaker that has had success on the web with a web series, a blog, a documentary series, an innovative collective, a photography site – someone or some people who are out their doing their thing on the web.
We hope it will inspire you to dig in and find your digital voice!
5 Second Films is exactly that – a collection of films no longer than five seconds in length and pretty funny to boot. Visit the site and be sure not to miss Clark Kent’s Close Call and My Almost Psychic Friend – , though they are pretty great so you can’t go wrong by clicking the “random” button and taking your chances with what pops up.
Below, Brian Firenzi, the co-founder of 5secondfilms answers our set of five questions. Here’s what he had to say.
How did you come up with this crazy idea?
5secondfilms was inspired partly by an old “make-a-5-second-long-commercial” contest that Cadillac sponsored in 2005. I was in my freshman year at USC, and my friend and I didn’t enter, but wanted to challenge ourselves to see if we could even fit anything remotely funny into 5 seconds. At first, we held the same opinion that most people do before they visit our site: No. But over time we started becoming better editors, and our brains stopped thinking in terms of funny sketches or scenes in favor of short jokey bursts. Eventually we won a few awards at USC’s infamous Ed Wood 24-hour film festival, and knew we had to start a website.
What made you think anyone would watch?
There’s nothing to suggest that anyone should ever laugh at anything we’ve ever made, ever. That said, we don’t take up very much time to watch. We pitch 5secondfilms to newcomers that way quite often – and a lame 5-second film doesn’t make them want to tear their hair out quite like a 3-minute sketch with the same joke. Things that end quickly are funnier anyway, by the laws of nature. It’s easier to hook people with a format so undemanding.
But, how do you pay the bills?
A lot of us work in the industry, crewing on sets or at awards shows. Some among our ranks act in shows like Community and NCIS, work for E!, or write for Justified. I was a full-time editor as recently as September 2011, but quit to focus more on projects like these. It’s hard for all of us to make time and keep the product satisfyingly good – but it’s a lot easier when we’re all together, helping punch-up each idea. Our conflicting schedules don’t often have room for the weekly meetings we love to have, but they always manage to clear up for our Sunday shoot days, which are technically a massive, multi-5secondfilm, all-day undertaking that somehow doesn’t feel like much work. It’s strange. My theory is that we’re either getting way lazier about the process, or we’re becoming superhuman and ingesting time differently.
How do you get people to keep coming back?
There are about nine or ten of us, all with different senses of humor – so while the lack of a clear, singular voice might keep a few fans away, it’s actually ideal for attracting as many different people to the melting pot as possible. We check and balance each other to an extent, but even if someone else’s film doesn’t tickle us, we recognize that simply having content is King. We’ve put up a new 5second film every weekday for 3 years, and haven’t missed one day. Fans appreciate consistency almost as much as the quality. Apart from that, we just try to be different from all the other trillions of online comedy outlets there are, which isn’t so hard as long as we just stick to doing what we think is funny rather than any sort of mandate.
Friends of ours will stop by the house every now and then, sometimes with an idea, sometimes just to grab a beer and leave. Lately we’ve been fortunate to work with people like Patton Oswalt, Peter Stormare, Juliette Lewis, Andrew W.K. and Laura Silverman, who bring their own energy to the ideas as well. But this is a question we get asked quite a bit (whether we accept outside ideas). And the answer, frankly, is no. Eventually, we’re going to build a feature for the website that allows people to upload their own 5secondfilms, which we hope will encourage people to pick up a camera, but as for now we have enough on our plate just by shooting the ideas in our own heads.
You can find 5SecondFilms at their website, and remember – they release a new film everyday, that’s right EVERY DAY. Check them out and then go pick up a camera and shoot something.
– by Erikka Yancy for Film Independent
January 5th, 2012 • No Comments