Q&A Panel: From Online Short to Studio Feature Film

by Patrick Meissner - updated on August 19, 2015

We recently hosted a networking event titled “Short Cut: From Online Short to Studio Feature Film.” The event featured a panel of established film directors who have gotten their starts from making short films for either the Internet or film festivals. “Short Cut’s” panel included commentary from Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead, Panic Attack), Dan Blank (Monster Roll, Whatever Lola Wants), Spencer Susser (Hesher, I Love Sarah Jane), and Dan Trachtenberg (Portal: No Escape, Kickin’). The panel was moderated by producer-director Trevor White (Jamesy Boy). The theater at the LA Film School was bustling with eager filmmakers and industry insiders both established and up and coming. In order to accommodate for guests that were not already local, we broadcast live interactive online video. Remote participants were able to tweet in questions for the panel. For the panelists involved, the creation of short films was a launching point for their individual careers. Encouraging those at the event to do the same, Dan Blank referred to the power of creating your own short film:

“For you to make an actual short film,” he said, “something that conveys your idea, or shows your talent, it’s the ultimate calling card.”


Following a screening of the four panel members’ relevant short films, we opened up the floor and the Twitter feed to some Q&A. Alvarez, Trachtenberg, Blank, and Susser reminisced on their experiences creating the shorts that eventually launched their careers. They discussed the strategies behind their projects and reminded viewers that at the end of the day the most important thing is to have fun and tell a good story.  Fede Alvarez is no stranger to this concept. He proclaims that he still makes films because he “just loves doing this.”  He reminded viewers that the end goal of any project you’re working on should not be success or money; it should be the integrity of the project. His advice for anyone deciding whether not to work on his or her own short film is to “just do it:"

"Don’t think about where it’s gonna go or what’s going to be the platform. If you’re thinking too much about that, if you’re thinking as a businessman, then you’re already weird. You should be thinking about the story you’re telling.”

Spencer Susser had a similar perspective, claiming that a short film does not have to be anything too involved. “You just need a good story, no matter what,” he said. “Your film doesn’t have to be anything technically impressive it should just be a good story.” For Susser, and the panel agreed, your first short films should not be made with the intention of breaking in. You should just make them for the sake of telling a good story and practicing your craft. Susser explained:

“If you’re true to yourself as an artist, and you make something you like, other people will like it too.”

Our next event is a Q&A Panel and Mixer called THE FUTURE OF DISRUPTIVE DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT.  It will be held on May 2nd at 7:30pm at Mischevious Studios in Hollywood.

About Pat Meissner

Pat is a contributor to  He is a journalist and a freelance non-fiction writer living in Los Angeles. Over the past years several years he has contributed for various publications including The San Diego Union Tribune, Campus Circle, and ScreenCraft.  His portfolio includes interviews with such celebrated personalities as Johnny DeppBarbara StreisandSeth RogenAaron Eckhart, John Carpenter and Dan Bradley. His portfolio also includes interviews with musical acts such as AerosmithLeAnne RimesErykah Badu and Ziggy Marley. You can see his work at

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