Can shorts save Hollywood?

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If there’s one filmmaker who truly knows how to shape and gauge film-goer interest, it’s Guillermo del Toro, who with genre crossbreeds such as “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” has found a sizable audience where few would have dreamed one could exist.

So we take it to heart when Del Toro says, as he did in an e-mail to us, that a few viral-video shorts making the rounds these past few months could form the basis of some pretty solid and successful movies. “I think that a short film is a perfect nugget of a film. A seed. The perfect pitch that a producer can promote and push for people to ‘get a glimpse’ of the film that lies there.” he wrote.

Certainly some big Hollywood types are taking chances on shorts -- and not just as a way to discover a filmmaker, but as the basis for full-on features.

As we discovered in reporting a story for Sunday’s Calendar section, shorts have become all the rage in Hollywood, as top producers like Sam Raimi seek and pursue shorts from people with little more name recognition, or financial backing, than most of us. There’s the gem of a horror movie “Mama” (shown below), which Del Toro is producing as a feature at Universal, and the au courant hot material “The Raven” (the second film below) and the likely soon-to-be-buzzed dark animated film “Alma” (the film above), a personal favorite because of its ominous suggestiveness.


There’s already been talk of a backlash, as some wonder if the vogue for these shorts is evidence not of a new creativity but of the old hysteria, the kind where a semi-interesting idea is pursued and ridden into the ground like a beleaguered groundhog.

But those who lament a creative bankruptcy in the feature world might want to take note. Whether these movies sprout into full-blown films of matching quality -- and whether filmmakers are allowed to help them grow into that -- one can’t really say at this point. But in a remake-thick landscape often lamented as depressingly barren and lacking in new ideas, it’s encouraging when one can find some little vibrant green shoots.

-- Steven Zeitchik (follow me on Twitter at @ZeitchikLAT)

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