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TOP > LOUNGE TOP > INTERVIEW/COLUMN > LA interview / Interview with Daniel Dubiecki


LA interview / Interview with Daniel Dubiecki

Daniel Dubiecki

Producer of the Academy Award® nominated films

Short film as a learning experience

Daniel Dubiecki has worked as part of the producer/director team with Academy Award® nominated director, Jason Reitman since they began making short films together. They were participants of the Short Shorts Film Festival 2001 (a.k.a the American Short Shorts Festival) when their short film was a festival selection. Their 20 short films and 5 feature films have won over 30 awards around the world including international film festivals in Sundance, Aspen, Melbourne, Edinburgh, and Rome. Director Jason Reitman has created the Hard C production company. They are currently developing more than 8 feature films. As producers of commercials, they have made spots for Heineken, Honda, BMW, Miller Lite, Kyocera, Wal-Mart, GM, Nintendo and many others. We interviewed Dan who, at just 33, has already achieved success in Hollywood, about his thoughts on short films.

Mr. Dubiecki: I have been involved in 20 – 25 short films in the past. Back then I directed a number of them as well. Mainly as producer, the many directors and stories that I came across was very valuable to me. The friendships I made during the times making short films were especially important. For example, I participated in the 2001 Short Shorts in Tokyo and met Horwitz and Gareth Smith there. They designed all the opening titles for ”Thank You for Smoking”, “ Juno”, and “Up In the Air”. Right now Mark Carter, who I met when making ”The Ballad of Little Roger Mead”, and I are going ahead with a feature film production.

Mr. Dubiecki continues: The most important thing about making a short film is to tell the story clearly. Short films are a different art form from feature films. I’ve made many mistakes and failed many times so short films are a place to practice and polish your art. In features, there are many investors and business takes the forefront but in short films there’s nobody who’s actually looking to make a profit, although that doesn’t mean you can’t make any from them. Also with features, there are people from the studios and critics who have a lot to say about things but not in shorts. You can experience an open and free production environment. Also short films are a great way to present your idea to a major studio. For a young filmmaker with no experience in features, making a short fi lm version, serves as a tool that gives them an understanding of the style and sense of the story.

What did you learn from short films?

Mr. Dubiecki: For me personally it was a learning experience back then. How to effectively tell the story to the audience. For that, where is the best place to put the camera, how to best work the actor. I gradually built experience that way. Short films should be made as much as possible. I’m making features now but I intend to continue producing short films.

What purpose did the film festival serve?

Mr. Dubiecki: Participating in a film festival as well as thinking about what kind of fi lm festival to take part in is very important. With experience, I learned to choose where to exhibit my films. Film festivals always were a step up in our careers, plus the feeling of watching your own film with an audience is a great feeling. As I mentioned before, you can also meet other talented directors. The director with whom I’m producing a feature right now is someone I met at the Short Shorts in Tokyo. And if your short fi lm is a success, agents will approach you“. In God We Trust” which was selected for Short Shorts was definitely became a step up for the director Jason (Reitman) and myself. In addition to being approached by an agent, the feature we were developing“, Thank You for Smoking” became a reality. By the way, we started working on“ Thank You…” while we were making“ In God We Trust” and since we completed it in 2004, it took 4 years to make.

How about the business possibilities of short films?

Mr. Dubiecki: Right now there isn’t a business model for short films. In the future, for short films to be used as content for web channels led by mobile phone sites and YouTube is inevitable. Currently it seems that the with cable TV, the internet, TV, so many media channels vying for attention, it seems like they’re just eating away at each other’s business. At some point in time, it will all come together and the waste will disappear, while at the same time, if the environment can be developed to answer to the different needs of people of all types, then short films as a business can succeed. In Mr. Dubiecki’s experience, short films did not become a connection to doing big business, but did become a place for learning commercial film production, as well as, and more importantly, in the environment of film festivals, the network of friends and colleagues that was made became a very important part of future success.