It might seem like a challenge to fill a rolling 24-hour schedule with short films but Carter Pilcher, head of Shorts International, the London-based company behind the new UK channel Shorts TV, is unfazed.
'We developed a huge catalogue, building video-on-demand relationships,' he explains. 'We have an enormous library and thousands of hours of films.'
Shorts International distributes more than 3,000 films across every platform. Founded in 2000 by US-born Pilcher, the company supplies films to cinemas, channels such as HBO in the US and Canal Plus in France, website operators such as Joost, airlines, mobile-phone operators and consumer brands including Diesel, Jameson Whiskey and iTunes.
'Most of our business is selling to iTunes,' Pilcher explains. 'We send thembetween 10 and 20shorts each month. We're always focused on high-quality and commercially viable content.'
Content for the channel and site is derived from a variety of sources. 'We have an acquisitions team and we send people out to short film and feature film festivals,' says Carter. 'We're at most major film festivals.'
More than half of Shorts International's catalogue has been nominated for or received international film awards at festivals around the world. For the last three years, the company has partnered with Magnolia Pictures in the US to place Oscar-nominated shorts into theatres and on iTunes in the run-up to the Academy Awards ceremony. 'Short films are a great cinema experience,' says Pilcher.
The shorts, which can also be viewed on Shorts International's website, extend to filmed entertainment from indie film directors, leading animation studios, music producers and well-known international directors and actors, including Martin McDonagh and Cary Fukunaga.
The content also includes the work of emerging talent from across the globe, who submit their films via the website. 'Our audience expects to participate. They can take a mobile phone, shoot something, edit it on a Mac and upload it to Facebook in 10 minutes,' says Pilcher.
The channel is targeting a specific age group. 'If you talk to someone between 18 and 25, they say they get their shorts online,' he continues. 'Our channel is for those between that age group who watch new movies in the theatre, go and buy DVDs but never watch movies on TV.'
With the UK channel, Pilcher aims to build on the success of last year's launch of ShortsTV on cable in France, where it is broadcast to more than three million people across France, Belgium and Luxembourg. 'We're very excited about our French-speaking audience,' says Pilcher, who says he is now planning further European launches. 'Viewers are young and media savvy and they participate a lot.'
One of the most important things about ShortsTV and Shorts International, according to Pilcher, is that the channel and the website have made the barrier of entry to film-making much lower. 'When you look at ShortsTV and see a young guy being interviewed about his short, there is a whole sense with film-makers and audiences that, 'I could be there too.''