In the past year or two, one trend has really taken off in Taiwan. The term is 微電影 and you might see it translated as “micro movie,” “micro film,” or even “micro cinema.” It’s nearly impossible to find an official definition for this word, but the general consensus is that “micro films are short films that run from three minutes to half an hour.” Sometimes there are multiple episodes, sometimes not.
Unlike “traditional” cinema, you don’t have to worry about rummaging through a video store or hoping that the film comes to your local theater, because these movies are made for “new media.” You can download or stream them over the Internet and easily watch them on your smart phone or tablet. And as a result, they are pretty accessible for people all around the world.
There’s no one size fits all format for micro movies. But because they’re usually cheaply produced and shot over a couple of weeks, you will find some similarities.
Product placements. Most micro movies are actually just advertisements with a storyline. But usually, the product placement is subtly and creatively done. For instance, in one micro movie advertising a certain cell phone, the characters delivered a lot of dialogue over the phone while the cameraman made sure to capture the handset. Even though no one ever mentioned the name of the phone, the message “buy this phone” still came across through branding.
Light Hearted. In Taiwan, romantic comedies are a major staple in the idol drama world. This is true for micro movies as well. Don’t be surprised to find heavier, more emotional films too. But don’t confuse these with the “film shorts” that get screened at movie festivals. “Micro movies” belong to their own unique genre.
Also, just like idol dramas (偶像劇), some of the most popular micro movies in Taiwan star our favorite celebrities with the main actors singing the title songs.
If you’re interested in exploring the world of micro movies, there are a lot of ways to find them. But note, most sites are in Mandarin.
Taiwanese Micro Movies (this Taiwan hosted site has films from all over the world)
Yahoo Micro Film (features popular films starring big name celebrities)
Ad Talk’s Top Ten Micro Films of 2011 (with great article about these films as internet marketing)
Viki (fansubs of some popular films ~ but includes “regular” movies too)
These links are a great place to start. But I wonder—what do you think of micro-films? Any recommendations? Do you think the 30 minute micro film will replace the 13 episode idol drama?