Hunt says creating short films for the web and making commercials are two sides of the same coin. "We approached 405 with a commercials mentality," he explains. "Because of the limitations of the web, we knew it had to be short. It needed to be exciting and to get the idea across very quickly." Adds Branit, "In a sense, online films are much closer to commercials than they are to feature films."
Besides Ifilm.com, AtomFilms.com and MediaTrip.com are key venues for breaking into the short-film market. On Atom, coincidentally, the popular sexploitation saga Bikini Bandits was directed by Steven Grasse of Philadelphia's Gyro Advertising. The site also hosts work by online animation shop Jib Jab, founded by producer-director brothers Evan and Greg Spiridellis. The siblings signed onto Chelsea Pictures after their Capitol Ill interactive short, featuring a rapping George Bush and Al Gore, became popular with web surfers last fall.
Several production companies have also introduced short film festivals on their own sites. Crash Films (crashfilms.com) shows weekly mini-movies created by the company's directors. Executive producer Gary Ward says the site started as a sales tool to showcase reels, but it grew into something more. "It's a great way for directors to show what they can do on their own."