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Programming short film in your community cinema

Top tips on programming short films from ShortsTV.

We all love a great short film, in fact recent research showed that the number one thing people aged 40 and over miss most about their cinema experience is a short before the main feature. Why not curate a special short film event or screen a short film that complements your feature to bring a bit of nostalgia to your cinema?

  • Simon Young, Director of Acquisitions at ShortsTV

    ShortsTV, a unique TV channel dedicated to short films, offers the world’s largest short film catalogue. For over a decade the company has also proudly brought the Oscar Nominated Short Films to cinema audiences across the globe.                                  

    With so many great short films available to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones to screen. Simon Young, ShortsTV’s Director of Acquisitions, is the short film advisor and programmer for the BFI London Film Festival. He’s given us his top tips on how to programme short films.

Be very selective

There are a lot of short films out there, which can vary greatly in quality. Do your research and make sure you are selecting the best films you can get your hands on.


If you programme thematically you will attract an audience which is interested in that theme and know what to expect from the screening, to some extent. Try to keep the theme (or genre) reasonably universal – for example comedy, love, horror, sci-fi are all popular. Alternatively, a showcase of shorts from a particular country, director or even actor can work too.

Running order is vital

Some of the best films are a very hard act to follow. Mix up longer and shorter films. Try to end with a crowd pleaser!


Try to keep the running time manageable. A programme of shorts can be an intense viewing experience, so less is often more. Aim for a maximum runtime of 90 minutes. An audience will very rarely complain that a shorts film programme was too short!

Find out what’s popular

Short films are already a fairly ‘niche’ proposition to most cinema audiences. Try to pick films which are fairly accessible to a non-specialist audience. Go to see some short films at a festival and see what goes down well. Festivals often have an award voted for by the audience, so consider looking at these for inclusion in your programme.

Don’t forget to ask your audience for their feedback and suggestions at your event so you have plenty of ideas for your next screening!