Okay, so the internet is already full of top ten lists of short films -- and I've written a fair few of them myself. But this one's slightly different. Every film on this list was shot in the first person perspective. Although first person isn't entirely new in film -- found footage has existed for decades -- the first person perspective is currently gaining in popularity due to the rise of Gopros and first person shooters, meaning it's only a matter of time before it gains real mainstream approval. Here's ten of the best first person short films that you can watch for free. These are presented in no particular order so feel free to pick and choose. Oh, and by the way, If I've missed any, please let me know in the comment section.
'Gumshoe' is a film noir with a very unusual angle. And I mean that in the literal sense. Not only is this film in the first person perspective, but the protagonist spends the whole runtime staring down at his shoes like he's lost his goddamn contact lenses or something. Normally, this would be pretty disorientating and give the impression that you're watching someone who's never encountered a video game try to play a first person shooter for the first time. That's a premise that could be incredibly frustrating. Yet, weirdly, it works pretty well here. The filmmakers have clearly put a lot of thought into their approach and use their unusual style to effectively increase tension during key scenes. In fact, it makes certain shots -- such as the shadow of the approaching villainess and the lift emerging from the floor -- much more memorable and suspenseful. 'Gumshoe' was directed by Matt Steinauer and was featured at the Raindance Film Festival in 2013.
9. The Nest -- David Cronenberg
'The Nest' was featured at the International Film Festival Of Rotterdam and the EYE Film Institute 2014. The POV film is a new and mostly untested genre. Most of the entries on this list were created by new up-and-coming filmmakers bringing a much needed fresh perspective to the medium. However, it isn't purely dominated by young people, David Cronenberg -- master of body horror -- has also tried his hand at first person with this unsettling film that raises many questions and leaves the answers to the viewer's imagination. 'The Nest' features a woman -- played by Evelyne Brochu -- who wants her left breast removed as she believes there are live bugs living inside it which only she can hear. The doctor -- played by Cronenberg himself -- listens to the woman's story patiently as we realise that his surgery looks a lot like someone's basement. 'The Nest' is a must-see for Cronenberg fans as it serves as a trailer for his novel 'Consumed' and fuel for my nightmares.
8 Random Stop
'Random Stop' is based on the true story of a twenty two year old highway patrol officer who was tragically shot and killed while on duty. The patrolman, Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Dinkheller, was at the end of his shift when he noticed a pickup truck, belonging to Andrew Brannan, a troubled Vietnam veteran, swerving erratically. Dinkheller pulled Brannan over and it quickly became apparent that something was very wrong. Brannan became agitated and nonsensical before pulling a gun. Dinkheller was shot and killed in the resulting gun battle. Police training academies around the world now use the dashcam footage of the incident to train recruits how to deal with similar situations. Due to the subject matter this short is both graphic and upsetting. The film is shot from Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Dinkheller's perspective, putting the viewer in Kyle's shoes as the tragic events play out. When dealing with a subject matter such as this there's always the potential for bad taste. However, the film deals with the story in a way that is respectful of Dinkheller's memory yet doesn't vilify his mentally ill killer. This is a much watch.
7 One Last Dive
'One Last Dive' is like a perfectly executed scary short story. With a running time of just over one minute you wouldn't expect it to be as effective as a longer piece, but it does in one minute what most horror films fail to do in two hours: it gives you the creeps. I don't want to ruin the ending by talking about this one too much, so all I'll say is that this is the story of a diver who uncovers some very, very weird stuff while taking one last dive on a dark night. 'One Last Dive' was directed by Jason Eisener ('Hobo With a Shotgun', 'V/H/S/2') after he was commissioned by Vice to create a short film inspired by the devil's hour -- 3AM. According to Eisner himself, he's since been contacted by a Hollywood studio who are interested in turning the short into a longer feature .
6 Dark Times
'Dark Times' is a fast-paced festive zombie romp for fans of comedy horror zombie films such as 'Braindead', 'Black Sheep' and 'Shaun of the Dead'. The plot involves a Christmas party within a nuclear power that, in case you didn't guess, goes wrong in a big way. The party is interrupted by a nuclear meltdown, a full scale zombie outbreak and the resulting overblown military response; as the survivors run off into the woods they're picked off by fast moving zombies. This one's pretty gory and features lots of blood and guts and even a creepy zombie Santa. You also get to experience events from the perspective of a zombie, which is oodles of fun. 'Dark Times' is the creation of film-makers Peter Horn and Jared Marshall. It's also set to be featured in an upcoming DVD -- 'Zombieworld' -- that features a collection of zombie themed short movies.
5 Superman with a Gopro
'Superman with a GoPro' is the most straightforward title possible for a short film about, well, Superman with a GoPro. It's literally exactly how it sounds. Superman finds a GoPro -- belonging to one Sam Gorski -- and decides to return it to its owner, after fighting crime and flying around Los Angeles first, of course. 'Superman With a Gopro' was made by Jake Watson, Sam Gorski -- he's the one whose GoPro Superman's returning -- and Niko Pueringer -- AKA Corridordigital, an LA based visual effects team who have an entire Youtube channel full of videos just as awesome as this one. In order to create the flying scenes Corridordigital strapped a GoPro to a DJI Phantom drone to film the flying scenes, adding Superman's outstretched arms in post production. That may sound simplistic, but 'Superman with a Gopro's effects are more far impressive than most of the Superman live action films put together. My only hope is that Zack Snyder isn't too busy making snow angels in his massive pile of money to take note...
4 Dying Light
A UK based production company was commission by Techland, a video game developer, to create a promotional short film for the computer game 'Dying Light' . The game is a mashup -- part freerunning simulator and part first person shooter. Therefore, the best medium for a live action adaptation is, of course, first person film. The plot involves a small band of humans trying to survive in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. In the film a survivor is scavenging for supplies when he is seen and chased by a large group of zombies who then proceed to chase him through alleyways and across the rooftops of nearby buildings. According to Scott Bass, the director, despite all the dangerous stunts involved in the filming of the movie, the only injury that occurred on set happened when one of the performers fell down some stairs while trying to eat a sandwich. So, there you go: jumping across rooftops won't kill you, but you better watch out for those cheese and onion sandwiches.
'Intrusion' is another scary short, playing on psychological horror rather than the supernatural this time. It conjures up the most basic fear that we all hope to never, ever experience: waking up late at night to realise someone has gotten into the house. This is the only entry on the list that's presented in the found footage style, and I only include it due to the fact that it presents itself so well. All I can tell you about the plot is that our unnamed protagonist uses a camera and a flashlight as he investigates the strange noises and opened doors in his apartment as a shadowy intruder stalks from room to room. 'Intrusion' was directed by Jack Michael -- who also wrote and starred in his film -- and he did it all for only eleven dollars and fifty cents. This is definitely worth a watch if you're a fan of psychological horror, a future filmmaker with a limited budget, or a Hollywood producer/writer/director who needs a lesson on how to make effective horror without a ridiculously over inflated multi-million dollar budget.
2 Carly's Cafe
'Carly's Cafe' is based on an excerpt from the book 'Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism.' Carly Fleischmann, who wrote the book with the help of her father, was diagnosed with autism and apraxia -- a condition which makes speech difficult -- at the age of two. Doctors predicted that Carly would never progress intellectually past the age of a young child. Eventually, Carly proved them wrong when she learned to type, opening up a whole new world of communication. The use of a first person perspective really helps put us in Carly's shoes. We learn that Carly's condition makes it difficult to focus on a conversation as her attention shifts continuously to other sights sounds and smells. In order to convey this the film uses editing and some nifty VFX. It can be a little disorientating at times...but that's kind of the point. If you're interested in learning more about Carly you can head over to the official website, which features an interactive version of the video.
1 Bad Motherfucker
'Alright, so 'Bad Motherfucker' is a bit of a cheat. According to the video's view counter everybody in the world has seen this video. Twice. But, given it's obvious impact, I just had to make it number one. 'Bad Mother' began as a music video for director Ilya Naishuller's band 'Biting Elbows'. According to Ilya himself it was shot using a GoPro mounted on a gimp mask bought from a sex shop. You'd be right if you guessed that a film with that origin story might contain all kinds of crazy. The video went on to become insanely popular, gathering over forty million views online and impressing people like Darren Aronofsky and Samuel L Jackson. It also led to a successful crowd sourced campaign for the world's first full length POV movie -- 'Hardcore' -- starring Sharlto Copely of 'District 9' fame. 'Bad Mother' features an unnamed and unseen protagonist facing off against an army of black suited bad guys using kung-fu, guns, parkour and a mysterious device that's activated upon contact with water. Think Quentin Tarantino meets first person shooter. 'Bad Mother' is definitely a contender for the most action packed short movie ever.