In the United States, a "short film" usually means a movie between 20 and 40 minutes, while anything shorter than 20 minutes is supposedly called "short subject". The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, though, and either can get shortened to just "shorts". The universal maximum length is 40 minutes; anything longer is a "feature film". Minimum lengths vary by region and organization.

Live-action shorts were very common in the days when cinemas ran all day and people came and left pretty much at will at any point. The types could be included in a regular program were {{Newsreel}}s, comedy shorts like ''Film/TheThreeStooges'' and ''Creator/LaurelAndHardy'', musicals that are a de facto ConcertFilm focusing on some particular music act and cartoons such as Creator/WaltDisney's primary output until ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' was shorts. In certain home video editions of vintage Creator/{{Disney}} and Creator/WarnerBros-owned films, you can watch a bonus feature collection of film shorts that are assembled like a typical theatrical short film line up of the appropriate decade.

Unfortunately, shorts were paid with a set fee regardless of the audience response and were of course overshadowed by the feature films, which got the advertising. That's why Creator/WaltDisney took a chance with ''Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'' as a feature, which could allow him to see real profits as well as to pay for the high production standards he strove for. With the rise of the double feature the shorts were gradually squeezed out, leaving only the cartoons and newsreels until TV killed them off.

Short films nowadays tend to be student, independent projects or from public institutions like the Creator/NationalFilmBoardOfCanada, often short in time and budget. It's a challenging medium in which to work, given the constraints, but like all media, it has its perks. Short films are great training projects for beginners since they are easier to make than a feature film, and can be very personally rewarding, considering the filmmakers can go wild with crazy ideas that they don't have to sustain for a feature film or a series. Major studios like Walt Disney Pictures in the past with their ''WesternAnimation/SillySymphonies'' and {{Creator/Pixar}} now also use them as a good way to try out new film techniques before using them in features. Most WebOriginal projects could easily be called short films; so could some entries in LeFilmArtistique.

Most films made specifically for novelty/large-screen formats such as [=IMAX=] -- nature and science documentaries, performance art showcases, animated shorts/compilations, etc. -- and screened in museums or amusement/theme parks, rather than given mainstream theatrical releases, are short films. With [=IMAX=], this was partially due to the logistics of changing the giant reels of film it required until digital filmmaking/projection came along and made it much easier for mainstream films to be released in the format, but the short film format persists for other productions.

However, the short film has had a bit of a semi-revival as mainstream fare, such as the aforementioned WebOriginal films on sites like Website/YouTube. In addition, Pixar, Creator/DreamWorksAnimation and Creator/WarnerBros have regularly produced animated shorts for both theatrical release, as TV special material and as DVDBonusContent. In Canada, there is Moviola, a cable TV channel that features ''only'' film shorts.

The term comes from the number of reels it took to play the film on a projector. Shorts were typically two reels (hence 20-40 minutes), and features were usually four to six reels (when these terms were coined, features were usually 60-90 minutes).

See also ShortAnimeMovie.
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!!Examples:

[[index]]
[[AC:Animated Shorts]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AssassinsCreedEmbers''
* ''WesternAnimation/BigBuckBunny''
* ''WebAnimation/BrainDivided''
* ''Film/TheCatWithHands''
* ''Cheap Rate Gravity''
* ''WesternAnimation/AChristmasCarol''
* ''WesternAnimation/ClassicDisneyShorts''
* ''WesternAnimation/ElephantsDream''
* ''WesternAnimation/EmilyAndTheBabaYaga''
* ''Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Feast}}''
* ''Disney/FrozenFever''
* ''WesternAnimation/GetAHorse''
* ''Harvie Krumpet''
* ''WesternAnimation/HeadOverHeels''
* ''WebAnimation/{{Kiwi}}''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Logorama}}''
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes''
* ''Literature/TheLostThing''
* ''Film/ManGettingHitByFootball'' [[note]]It's live-action in [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons the work]] it's based in.[[/note]]
* ''WesternAnimation/NotWithoutMyHandbag''
* ''Anime/PaleCocoon''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Paperman}}''
* ''WesternAnimation/PixarShorts''
* ''WesternAnimation/PrehistoricBeast''
* ''Animation/{{Revolution 2009}}''
* ''WesternAnimation/TheReward''
* ''WesternAnimation/RogerRabbitShorts''
* ''WesternAnimation/RubyRocketPrivateDetective''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Sintel}}''
* ''Disney/TangledEverAfter''
* ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry''
* ''{{Vincent}}'' by Creator/TimBurton
* ''Anime/VoicesOfADistantStar''
* ''Franchise/WallaceAndGromit'':
** "WesternAnimation/AGrandDayOut"
** "WesternAnimation/TheWrongTrousers"
** "WesternAnimation/ACloseShave"
** "WesternAnimation/AMatterOfLoafAndDeath"
* ''WesternAnimation/WatsPig''
* ''Webcomic/WelcomeToHell''[[note]]started as a webcomic, later got an animated short made[[/note]]

[[AC:Live Action Shorts]]
* ''Film/FiveMenAndALimo''
* ''Film/{{Aftermath}}''
* ''Film/AlligatorPie''
* ''Alive in Joburg''
* ''Film/AlwaysCrashingInTheSameCar''
* ''WebVideo/BallGrillPolice''
* ''Film/BeingHomerSimpson''
* ''Series/BloodOverWater'' [[note]]It became one when released to [=YouTube=]. It was originally five short videos in a mini-series.[[/note]]
* ''Film/TheBloodyOlive''
* ''Film/UnChienAndalou''
* ''Film/CirqueDuSoleilJourneyOfMan'', a 2000 [=IMAX=] [=3D=] short (39 minutes).
* ''Dear Diary'' won the 1996 Oscar for best short film; it was a TV SitCom {{Pilot}} that nobody had picked up. It ran 38 minutes.
* ''Film/DirtyLaundry''
* ''Film/DisciplesOfTheCrow''
* ''Film/EastOfKensington''
* ''Film/{{Elevated}}''
* ''Film/TheFactsInTheCaseOfMisterHollow''
* ''Film/FarmSluts''
* ''Film/TheFlyingMan''
* ''Film/GandhiAtTheBat''
* ''Film/TheGreatTrainRobbery''
* ''Film/HardwareWars''
* ''Film/TheKiss''
* ''Film/KungFury''
* ''Film/{{Inseparable}}''
* ''Jasper Morello''
* ''Film/JudgeMinty''
* ''Film/{{Judy}}''
* ''LateBloomer''
* ''Film/MarvelOneShots''
** ''Film/AgentCarter''
* ''Film/MichaelJacksonsGhosts''
* ''Film/MonstersCrashThePajamaParty''
* ''Film/OneGotFat''
* ''OnTheLot'' was a short-lived filmmaker talent competition where competitors made shorts each week. They include ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdSvYGIuiUw Die Hardly Working]]'', ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohjDU7YlXEU Worldly Possession]]'', and ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL5VMWPeKzw Sweet]]''.
* ''Film/{{PMO}}''
* ''Film/{{Pumzi}}''
* ''Film/RecordedLive''
* ''Film/RoundhayGardenScene''
* ''Film/TearsOfSteel''
* ''Film/TheRedBalloon''
* ''Film/{{Revolution 1967}}''
* ''Main/RiffTraxShorts''
* ''Film/{{Snix}}''
* ''Film/TheThreeStooges''
* ''Thumbs''
* ''{{Validation}}''
* ''Film/XMarksTheSpot''
[[/index]]

[[AC:Shorts that were later made into feature films]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Nine}}'': This was a short before it was a feature.
* ''WesternAnimation/BattleForTerra'': This was a short before it was a feature.
* ''Film/{{District 9}}'': As ''Alive in Johannesburg''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Frankenweenie}}'': A live-action short from 1984 before being remade as a 2012 stop-motion animated feature.
* ''Kids''
* ''Obvious Child'': The 2014 feature film was expanded from a 2009 short which also had Jenny Slate in the lead.
* ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'': This series began as a short film, with the Reverse Bear Trap that was later incorporated into the first ''Film/SawI'' feature.
* ''Film/TheWizardOfSpeedAndTime'': Both produced/directed/animated by and staring Mike Jittlov, but separated by nearly a decade.

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