James Lee is not a foreign name in the local film scene. This award-winning director has carved his name in the industry as one of the pioneers of the Malaysian Digital Film movement. As someone who made his name through short films, he strongly encourages aspiring filmmakers to kick-start their career with short films.
"Make a short film, upload it online, let people watch and comment. That is how you grow. In a way, short films are a medium for you to train your skills and to experiment. You do not want to experiment with a 90-minute feature film and screen it to the public. The thing with Malaysian audience is that they are always supportive and watch your film. But once you disappoint them, it will be hard to gain their trust again."
Speaking of the short film industry in Malaysia, the Ipoh-born director believes that it is growing and receiving positive response from companies and filmmakers alike. For example, more companies had initiated short film competitions as we can see from the previous year such as Astro Vaanavil Short Film Contest 2015, Berjaya Youth Short Film Competition 2015, silentSHOUT Short Film Competition & Festival, among others.
"I think our short film industry is actually growing by the day. You can now see more filmmakers producing short films, and I think that it is all thanks to the expansion of technology; YouTube, Vevo, etc. All these platforms enable aspiring filmmakers to get access to more content and make them as a reference, apart from uploading their own content and getting constant feedback on their work," he continued.
Moreover, James disagrees that short films offer minimal sales revenues as compared to feature films, as times have changed and short films can bring in profit just as much if not more than feature films. In addition, the filmmaker can always expand the story, should they decide to spin it off into a feature film.
He further asserts that short films are now considered a branding content. Corporate bodies are turning to short films as a platform to put their brand forward with the change of medium and more audience opting for online content. James also believes that more people will be investing more in short films because they want to be able to post it up online, as it is short and effective.
Next, James is in talks with prominent producers to produce two new short films and an exclusive web feature on YouTube. With his success, James has proven that short film is not just a calling card, but a snapshot to your talent besides being a proof of concept to the producers.