Is short form content finally having its moment?

Film shorts and bitesize content have often been overlooked in favour of Hollywood feature-lengths. We explore whether new platforms and evolving viewer habits mark a new era for short form video

Short film has historically been in the shadow of its more glamorous feature-length counterpart. While they have garnered their own fanbase of avid followers, with dedicated film festivals and a presence at major awards shows, shorts have never quite gained the same traction, despite the fact they long predate feature-lengths.

Perhaps this historic lack of mainstream appeal exists because film shorts are often considered the medium of emerging filmmakers, involving smaller budgets and comparatively less starry indie studios. However, no such deduction can be made of Quibi, the new media brand foraying into short form content. With its $1.75 billion investment and a content reel featuring some of the world’s biggest stars – from Liam Hemsworth to LeBron James to Jennifer Lopez – the platform is pouring its efforts into creating a glossy new era for short films.

A portmanteau of ‘quick bites’, Quibi serves up films (Movies in Chapters), unscripted or documentary TV shows, and news content dubbed Daily Essentials – all of which clock in at ten minutes or less. The app launched in the USA just over a week ago, right in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We thought long and hard about whether we should launch, and we thought, you know what? We’re not medical professionals, we’re not first responders, and maybe if we can bring a little bit of joy, levity, distraction in an otherwise pretty challenging time, we thought we should go ahead. And we did,” explains Quibi CEO Meg Whitman, formerly of Disney, eBay and HP. “We had to change many, many things about our launch, because everything was of course planned in a much different environment. But we were able to pivot and change things, and it’s worked out really well so far – we had a great first three days.”