9 Awesome Movies That Started Out As Short Films

Who likes short shorts?

Alive In Joburg District 9
Spy Films/TriStar Pictures

Great filmmakers have to start somewhere, which is almost always the bottom. They’ll grab whatever work they can on low budget movies, all in the hope of making connections and climbing the ladder a rung at a time. A few will be proactive enough to develop their own projects, and they’ll even self-finance short movies to prove they can pull them off.

The majority of these films wind up being little more than expensive demo reels, but a select few are so impressive they wind up getting made into features. It can be fascinating to look back on these shorts and compare them to their big brothers, and see how well the director was able to expand the concept.

A surprising amount of features were spawned from shorts, though some of them (Pixels, Machete) probably shouldn’t have been expanded upon. With Light’s Out coming soon - which was based on the insanely creepy short of the same name - it’s a good time to look back on some great movies that started life as scrappy little short features.

9. Saw

Alive In Joburg District 9
Lions Gate Home Entertainment

A lot of people look back on Saw as the forebearer of the “torture porn” era, but there’s remarkably little onscreen gore in it; mostly, the violence is left up to the imagination.

The project came about when Australian filmmaking duo James Wan and Leigh Whannell wanted to make a low-budget thriller together, and decided a script about two men locked in a bathroom was the way to go. The script came together quickly after that, and they decided to fly to America to pitch it.

To help producers visualise the movie, the pair self-financed a short based on the Reverse Beartrap scene. Whannell played the unfortunate victim, and the scene plays out almost exactly the way it does in the final movie. The stylish short convinced producers Wan was a director to watch, so they gave him a small budget to make it. Whannell also got to play the lead role of Adam.

Considering their subsequent careers, they must consider that short to be the best five grand they’ve ever spent.

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