He is the only astronomical engineer who is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Carter Pilcher is the man who takes shorts films from India and gives them an international exposure. He has the world’s largest catalog of short movies. Shorts International owns and operates ShortsTV, the first and only worldwide channel and network dedicated to short films, and the only presenter of the Oscar Nominated Short Films theatrical releases since 2006. How does he define a short film, “We at ShortsTV use the Academy Motion Pictures definition, which is a proper story that is under 40 minutes. It can be live action, comedy or thriller, horror, any genre under 40 minutes in live action, animation or documentary,” says Carter, as he awaits to announce the winners of the 75 Creative Minds- 53 Hours Challenge at IFFI, which was won by Priya Raj Kumar for her short film, ‘Dear Diary’. The 24/7 channel boasts an extensive list of award-winning, innovative films that include the exclusive releases of the Oscar Nominated Short Films, short films from some of the largest festivals and award franchises. India too has a big role to play this filmmaking format, “ShortsTV was launched in 2017 in India and has been here since four years. We saw certainly an increase in viewership and subscriptions too during the lockdown. ShortsTV is available in India. It is a subscription service which is available on TV on Tata Play, Airtel, Dish TV, d2h and on OTTPlay. Here we are showing several thousands of films a year. We also started taking some of the best films that we are finding here in India to some of the other parts of the world, especially the US and Britain,” explains Carter. Interestingly, the short films are made in different languages and are gaining more audience through the medium. “There are different languages predominantly Hindi but we are building a strong selection of Telugu and Tamil shorts and even Maharashtrian shorts. We have some good Karnataka based films as well. It is a very fast growing capital,” he says. The stories too are from a vast spectrum. “There are all kinds of stories. Mostly fiction but documentaries too. We worked with filmmaker Sauruv Vishnu who worked on a documentary on ‘Tailing Pond’, based in Jadugora, a village in Jharkhand, and where there has been horrible pollution by a nuclear plant. We released that which was voiced by Cynthia Nixon of the ‘Sex and The City’ fame, an actress from the United States and it got a lot of publicity in the US as well as in India,” he says. ‘Tailing Pond’ is a documentary film that highlights how tribal families in Jadugora, Jharkhand are experiencing harmful effects of uranium radiation exposure. It was officially considered for the 93rd Academy Awards in the Documentary – Short category. Is there a bias towards the short film category compared to a full length film? “I feel a very strong bias towards short films. I think if you really can’t say a story in a short period of time, then you have to do a feature. If you have real talent, you can do it in a short film. In the Academy Motion Pictures, there are three Oscars dedicated to short films. It is a much richer area in terms of winning awards,” says Carter.
Besides short films that are nominated for the Oscar, ShortsTV also runs a Best of India Short Film Festival every year. “This year, we qualified ten films and most of them are by younger directors, but not necessarily. India has some amazing films and have won prizes. Radhika Apte has won the award for best actress in an international narrative feature for her performance in the 20-minute segment of ‘Madly’ at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Anurag Kashyap does some amazing shorts all the time. In terms of shorts in India, Anurag is the biggest names pushing and using shorts as the way to tell stories,” concludes Carter.