15 Greatest Movie Shorts On YouTube

This Friday, Robert Rodriguez' new kids' film Shorts arrives in cinemas.

To celebrate, we decided to take a look at the short films created by famous directors floating around the magical interwebs.

The likes of Tim Burton, David Lynch and even Martin Scorsese have seen their little gems uploaded, so we decided to figure out what they would look like if they were turned into feature-length flicks...

The Short: Bedhead (1991)

What better way to kick off than with the man behind Shorts, Robert Rodriguez.

He's largely known for the story behind his first movie (El Mariachi), but before he broke in, he was a feverish auteur of small comedies mostly featuring his family (they're cheap and available, you see).

Bedhead follows his daughter, Rebecca, who sustains a head injury while trying to take revenge on cheeky brother David for vandalising her doll.

A knock to the head results in psychic powers that she uses to torture him, but soon things turn even weirder.

If It Was Made Feature-Length: Spy Kids and his latest pic prove that Rodriguez has a solid eye for what entertains the ankle-biters.

So we're wondering why this great concept for an effects comedy hasn't been fleshed out. Perhaps he prefers it to remain a snapshot of his family as they were in the '90s?

Still, it could be a great role for a strong, young female actor (Abigail Breslin?) as she decides to use her newfound telepathic abilities to get vengeance on a bullying older sibling.

Next: Tim Burton & Martin Scorsese


The Short: Vincent (1982)

Tim Burton and future regular collaborator Rick Heinrichs came up with with this chunk of creepy fun, which finds young Vincent Malloy craving to be more like his hero, Vincent Price.

If It Was Made Feature-Length: This is quite clearly a job for Henry Selick.

Not only do he and Burton work well together (The Nightmare Before Christmas should be enough to convince anyone) but with the likes of Coraline, Selick has shown that stop-motion can still be successful in the Pixar/DreamWorks age.

So Burton should collaborate with Selick and produce a longer story about a boy who retreats into a spooky fantasy world to escape a family break-up.

But we'd have them skip a standard, "be yourself" moral for Vincent ending up completely engrossed in the world of Edgar Allen Poe and weird horror. After all, kids can't learn a happy lesson every film, right?

And since Vincent Price is sadly unavailable (due to dying in 1993), there's surely no finer choice than SNL's Bill Hader to handle Vincent-alike voice-over duties.

He does an amazing Vincent, and could bring a suitably arch, gothic tone to proceedings.

The Short: The Big Shave (1967)

Long before he was "Martin Scorsese", Oscar-winning director, Marty got his start making small films with smaller budgets.

While it starts out looking like a '50s shaving advert, Shave quickly becomes something more as the bloke starts to spill vein-claret like he's a serial killer.

There are several interpretations of what it all means, but the most common is that it's a meditation on the Vietnam War, with the credit "The Viet '67" at the end.

If It Was Made Feature-Length:
While there is plenty to be said about the current conflicts that America - and Europe - has dragged itself into, this could be better used as fuel for a thriller.

So we'd cast Leonardo DiCaprio (Scorsese's current male muse of choice) as a man who is driven insane by a dodgy razor.

Lusting for blood, he begins to hunt his victims in toilets and bathrooms across Manhattan and only one cop - world-weary detective Barnes, played by former Scorsese muse Bob De Niro - can track him down.

The ad team at Gillette would cut their own throats for product placement.

Next: David Lynch & Spike Jonze


The Short: Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) (1966)

Guess what? David Lynch enjoyed being abstract and weird right from the start!

Yes, this example of early - possibly the earliest - filmed work from the future Mulholland Drive/Inland Empire director is typically challenging and willfully obscure.

It's a roughly animated piece featuring the titular cut-out characters, their heads aflame, vomiting.

If It Was Made Feature-Length:
Tough one.

There's not exactly a lot of cinematic potential in the basic film, which is not hard since it's an experimental art poject.

Still, he's a master at turning the weird and unusual into movies, so we'd take inspiration from the wailing siren that howls through the soundtrack and have him re-imagine the concept as a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

We follow the haunted, desperate survivors of a nuclear holocaust as they realise their only salvation might be scavenge the last remnants of mankind's technology and become cyborgs.

Either that or hand it to the Farrelly brothers for a high-larious slap-sick vomit comedy.

The Short:
How They Get There (1997)

Created back during his days as a music video/ads helmer, Jonze's offbeat little piece is loaded with his trademark charm, but also a hefty, near-Shyamalan-like twist.

It proved his eye for little details in the tale of a gawky bloke and equally lanky girl who begin a strange flirtation simply through unusual, dance-inflected walks as they copy each other across a street.

If It Was Made Feature-Length:
If Once can work as a musical with a basic story and lovely music, then Jonze can turn this into a fully-fledged musical.

We'd suggest pairing kook-queen Zooey Deschanel with Anton Yelchin for a wonky story of love between two copycat 20-somethings.

And while we'd hang on to the shock twist, it wouldn't get in the way of a big romantic finish, albeit one laced with Jonze' unique take on the world.

Next: Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Michel Gondry


The Short: Foutaises AKA Things I Like, I Things I Don't Like (1989)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet films long-time collaborator Dominique Pinon for their first work together as the actor recites a long list of the things he loves and those he hates.

It's easy to see Jeunet developing his keen observational sense of filmmaking through the short and also his talent for occasional bursts of wacky comedy.

If It Was Made Feature-Length: A lot of the style and feeling has since been poured into Jeunet's actual movies, especially Amelie.

Despite that, there's certainly scope for a spiritual sequel to the Audrey Tatou-starrer and though Pinon had a supporting role then, we'd shove him back front and centre.

Weaving a narrative around another slightly obsessive type who is wandering through life looking for something to latch on to should come as second nature to the director.

The Short:
Smarienberg (1997)

Okay, so you probably don't know Michel Gondry's work by that name - you just remember it as "the cool Smirnoff advert on telly and at the cinema."

But while this production is a little different from most of the others on the list - because it was a paid commercial job - it's still extremely cool.

Gondry found a way to let the brand speak for itself and made the Vodka seem cool without having a bunch of stereotypically trendy types smugly gurn around a bar and laugh about how great they all are.

Plus it features some incredible effects - most notably a version of bullet time before The Matrix was so much as a flicker on audiences' brains.

If It Was Made Feature-Length: Gondry is about to tackle his first action adventure (and part comedy) with The Green Hornet.

Should the Seth Rogen pic be a big hit, Gondry could do worse than find a solid writer (Charlie Kaufman, say) to take this ad and turn the dramatic, genre-hopping tale of two secret agents into a new breed of action adventure.

And we'd let his imagination run free, to create something completely fresh.

Next: Richard Linklater & James Cameron


The Short: Woodshock (1985)

Richard Linklater created this homage to the rambling behind-the-scenes concert movies of the 1960s, based around the Austin, Texas alt-music festival.

It's a perfect subject for the man who would go on to make Slacker: free-wheeling, natural and pulsing with you-are-there energy.

If It Was Made Feature-Length : While he's since moved on to the likes of A Scanner Darkly, School Of Rock and the upcoming Me And Orson Welles, we'd like to see him go and chronicle another music fest.

There's still a version of Woodshock (though it seems to have moved to Ohio), but what about coming to the UK to amble through Glastonbury?

Linklater could have access to the backstage areas and wander the tents to create more of a mood piece than the squawking coverage usually offered by radio and TV types.

The Short:
Xenogenesis (1978)

It's easy to see the pulp sci-fi novel influences that led the young James Cameron into filmmaking stamped all over this tech tale.

Xenogenesis is his attempt (starring mate and future T2 scribe William Wisher Jr) to capture the spirit of stories set among the stars as man tries to rebuild after an apocalypse.

There's a lot of trademark Cameron to be found here: obsessions with machines (including a large vehicle that looks a lot like an HK from Terminator), spunky heroines and blokes charged with helping humanity avoid extinction.

If It Was Made Feature-Length: The original is more Blake's 7 than Avatar (not surprising, given that it was shot for $20,000), but though the essential story is one he's spun a few times, so elements could still be rescued.

And given the filmmaker's current driving obsession with performance capture and 3D spectacle, imagine what it could be with millions pumped in and someone like Sam Rockwell (yes, we're still obsessed with Moon) starring?

Next: David Cronenberg & Stanley Kubrick


The Short: From The Drain (1967)

Like the other David (Lynch), Cronenberg's early days were marked with unfettered, arty ideas beloved of film school students.

But the roots (no pun intended if you've seen the shocker of an ending) of his particular brand of filmic funkiness are visible right here.

Two blokes - who you might assume to be veterans of a past war, but they're really not - sit in a bathtub discussing various subjects. One is obsessed with the drain, one is indifferent.

We won't spoil the finale.

If It Was Made Feature-Length:
It's another difficult piece to imagine making into a workable movie, but we'll give it a shot.

Drain could largely be a two-hander between two shellshocked veterans of a war who discover that something is terribly wrong with the hospital they've been recuperating in.

As the layers of reality start to peel and they discover they're suffering the after-effects of a controversial military experiment, they try to break out.

But it won't be that easy....

The Short:
Day Of The Fight (1951)

Stanley Kubrick made this documentary format look at a boxer building up to a night in the ring for $3,900 and cannily sold it to RKO for $4,000.

It's in newsreel style and such was its impact that it ended up referenced in the likes of Raging Bull as one of the best looks at the sport (before Scorsese happened along, of course).

If It Was Made Feature-Length: We have two possible options for this one.

Obviously Kubrick can't make a new version, but what about getting Cameron Crowe to put his journalistic hat back on and follow a modern day fighter on his routine before a big clash - be it boxing or MMA.

Crowe's reporting background would make for a compelling piece.

Either that, or we'd have Steven Spielberg shoot a dramatic version with Sam Worthington as Walter Cartier.

This time, it would be 100% without stupid alien robots.

And thinking of The Beard...

Next: Steven Spielberg & Guillermo del Toro


The Short: Escape To Nowhere (1962)

Starting in '62, young Steve Spielberg made his second stab at a short film with the 41-minute war epic Escape To Nowhere.

Sadly, only a small chunk is online, but even in the brief segment, you can see the promise of a major talent.

The movie - which used army surplus gear and was funded by screenings of movies in the Spielbergs' living room at which the teen director sold popcorn and candy - took three years to finish and was shot mostly at weekends.

Escape follows a group of American soldiers battling the Germans in North Africa and is impressively loaded with stunts and special effects.

Wonder where that young man is today?

If It Was Made Feature-Length: Oh, right... possibly the world's most famous filmmaker.

True, he's already made his big war film with Saving Private Ryan and with that plus the miniseries Band Of Brothers (and the incoming The Pacific), he might have said all he needs to about World War Two.

So why not use Escape as a launching pad for a new young directing talent under Spielberg's guidance? Surely Quentin Tarantino can't be the only director with a WWII story to tell?

The Short:
Geometria (1987)

It should come as no shock that Guillermo del Toro's second-ever filmed project combines two of his burning passions - demonic horror and sick, twisted humour.

Geometria follows a young man with an unfeeling, overcritical mother who is sick of him constantly failing geometry at school.

He decides to remedy the problem by consulting his late father, but things don't turn out quit the way he intended and soon terror is stalking through the house.

If It Was Made Feature-Length: We love this idea, even if it's pretty much perfect as a short film.

Given Guillermo's hectic schedule (between making The Hobbit and producing six or seven thousand other projects), we doubt he could get to this much before the sun boils away, but, like Spielberg, he's known for supporting new talents.

We suggest hiring Paul Solet, the man who made disturbing baby horror Grace, and getting him to turn the concept into a fully-fledged flick.

Oh, and through the magic of A) prosthetics or B) performance capture, Doug Jones can play every part.

Next: Terry Gilliam & George Lucas


The Short:
Storytime (1968)

The earliest available work from a young, up-and-coming animator named Terry Gilliam is seething with his usual surreal style.

Filmed in typically stream-of-consiousness style, as though the narrator had taken some interesting substances beforehand, it follows the story... well, best you see for yourself.

If It Was Made Feature-Length:
If Gilliam's still having trouble getting movies made and released, we want him to team up with Pixar and convert this into a chaotic, satirical and utterly bizarre think-piece.

Jeff Bridges and Johnny Depp can narrate.

It might end up being the 'toon kings' least successful release ever, but you've got to admit it'll be something to see.

The Short:
Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB (1967)

Among the most famous short student movies ever created, this was fashioned by George Lucas while attending USC.

Running for 15 minutes and filmed in the featureless underground parking lot at LAX airport, it's a dystopian nightmare where emotions are controlled by drugs and one man longs to escape the computerised society.

If It Was Made Feature-Length: If? Surely everybody knows that this is the best known example of a student film actually making it to big screen status.

The 15 minute short had to be expanded upon, so the original's plot is essentially the last act of the THX 1138 movie.

After some CG tinkering for its special edition release, we're hoping Lucas doesn't get the urge to play with it again.

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Freelance Journalist

James White is a freelance journalist who has been covering film and TV for over two decades. In that time, James has written for a wide variety of publications including Total Film and SFX. He has also worked for BAFTA and on ODEON's in-cinema magazine.