ShortsTV is a channel that prides itself on bringing an array of short films, in various genres, to screens across the globe. The 2021 ShortsTV Worldwide Film Festival has just been announced and it will feature work from the U.S., Latin America, India and Europe. The call for 2021 ShortsTV Worldwide Film Festival is still ongoing and submissions are now open on Festhome.
This festival is hosted by ShortsTV which is honored to be an exclusive presenter of Oscar® Nominated Shorts theatrical releases. The aim of the festival is to promote the work of short filmmakers by giving them the opportunity to have their work viewed in more than 100 million homes via the ShortsTV channels.
Recently ShortsTV President, Jeff Allen, discussed ShortsTV and its mission via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in the film industry and what most appeals to you about short movies?
Jeff Allen (JA): My mother started her own production company when I was very young and some of my fondest childhood memories include visits to her office, where I was allowed to play with the control knobs and levers in the edit bay. My passion for the artform grew as I did, and in high school I volunteered to cut together the highlight reels for my wrestling team. They were short, but EPIC. That was when the “bug” bit me.
MM: How did you break into the industry and establish yourself?
JA: “Breaking in” was a huge concern for me, as it is for most who are pursuing a career in entertainment. I was often told that there are many paths in, and no two are exactly alike and…if you have a connection, use it. Since I grew up in Kansas, I didn’t have an LA or NY connection to leverage so I thought film school was my best chance. In 2003, I officially moved to LA to attend USC School of Cinematic Arts. It was a great (albeit expensive) experience, and I learned a lot and met so many wonderfully talented people. However, the film school experience alone is not enough to break you into the industry.
Fresh out of film school, and desperate for a job, I was browsing the USC job board and came across a startup called SpiritClips that was looking to hire a “web producer.” SpiritClips was founded by an entrepreneur and Academy Award-winning movie producer named Rob Fried (famous for films like Rudy, Hoosiers, So I Married an Axe Murderer). Rob’s vision was to deliver movies directly to viewers by creating a film/production company that made movies and would develop a platform capable of distributing video to any (and all) stream-capable devices via subscription. This model is commonplace today, but in 2007 it was pretty novel. The iPhone had just come out not even a year prior, and Netflix just announced that they were switching from DVDs in the mailbox to a streaming strategy. OTT devices? forget about it. Roku wouldn’t even come out for five more years. Once hired as a “web producer,” I quickly realized that in a startup with only seven employees and a limited runway, titles do not matter. If it needs to get done, you do it. I never said no to anything. Don’t know how to do something? Better figure it out and fast! I was producing, managing overseas developers, running lead gen and email marketing campaigns, and managing our MySQL database.
The daily tilling and watering of a dormant seed in the dirt is always very demanding. But in all the chaos you must remember to celebrate the small victories. One of my fondest memories from that time happened on Valentine’s Day in 2010. At that time, we only had a handful of original short films on the service and only a couple hundred subscribers. So, when we did a Valentine’s Day email marketing promotion that netted us 200 new subs in one week, it was a big deal – we literally threw a party! And as I was cutting myself a slice out of a heart-shaped cake, Rob came over to me and said, “Jeff, if we can get 200, then we can get 2,000, and if we can get 2,000, we can get 20,000, and if we can get 20,000, we can get…” and he didn’t need to finish. I got it, and he was right. We kept at it, and we kept growing…and I grew right along with it. That little startup SVOD service is now called Hallmark Movies Now.
MM: How do you find the films that you air and which genres are you open to?
JA: We are proud of the fact that we acquire thousands of the best short films every year, and they come from all across the globe! I don’t believe there is another company that can make that claim, and it’s central to our operation. We are very grateful for our relationships with film festivals, film schools, and distributors all over the world and source many of the films from them. We are always looking for passionate, independent filmmakers that want to use the ShortsTV network to showcase their talents. It’s easy for any filmmaker to submit their film for consideration – just click here:
MM: How did you become such a global powerhouse in the short film world?
JA: We’ve stayed true to our commitment to be a universal champion of the short film art form. As new markets emerge, and technology reshapes the industry, we’ve relentlessly pursued every opportunity to expand our distribution footprint.
MM: When did you first start the film festival and how has the event evolved over the years?
JA: We dipped our toe in the water last year by hosting festivals in Latin America and India. This year will be the first year we are going global. We see it as a great opportunity to expose audiences to incredible short movies that they may never have had the opportunity to see. We will do all we can to ensure that the ShortsTV Worldwide Film Festival continues to grow in the coming years.
MM: Which shorts have left an impression on you and why?
JA: They each do in their own way. My personal favorites are the 1989 Oscar Live Action winner, “The Lunch Date” and the 2019 Oscar Live Action winner, “The Neighbors’ Window.” Both offer great lessons in storytelling and perspective. *tissue warning*
MM: What is some of the best feedback you’ve gotten about ShortsTV and the festival?
JA: We received hundreds of wonderful reviews from filmmakers last year. They come into my email inbox so I read every one, it’s a great mood booster. The best part about it is that they come in several different languages.
MM: How would you like to see this event expand in the future? For example, might you include films from Africa, Oceania, and more Asian countries in the future?
JA: We truly want this to be a uniquely global event. Technology has seriously lowered the barrier to entry for aspiring filmmakers, and I’d like to see every country in the world represented in our film festival. Can you tell I’m also a big fan of the Olympics?
MM: What other initiatives or projects are you working on right now?
JA: ShortsTV will be making some big announcements in 2021, all in alignment with our promise to support the foundation of the entertainment industry.
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To learn more, visit the official website of ShortsTV.