Once upon a time, short films actually played in cinemas, as an opening act for the feature presentation. But as feature films got longer and cinemas tried to squeeze in ever more screenings, the shorts eventually fell by the wayside. As a result they lost their position as the traditional calling card for anyone trying to break into the movie biz, as more and more directors chose to start in commercials or music videos and cross over from there.
The digital revolution has changed all that: Thanks to the spread of cheap filmmaking tools that removed the expense of shooting and printing on film, as well as the vast increase in outlets for release on the Internet, shorts are being made and released at a mind-boggling pace. Just like with music, however, quantity is the enemy of quality, and the need for informed curators who can separate the wheat from the chaff is greater than ever.