Who doesn’t love short films? They’re tasty little bitesize morsels of cinematic goodness that won’t take up more than a few minutes of your time. And they’re not just good for watching, they’re good for writing.
For aspiring screenwriters, short films not only provide plenty of creative room to learn, grow, and take risks but they also give writers a way to create a proof of concept for a larger project.
So, if you’re in need of a little inspiration (or a few short film titles you’ve never heard of), we’ve put together a list of ten of the best animated shorts from one of the best storytelling teams on earth: Pixar.
Written and Directed by Domee Shi
This Oscar winner for best animated short was the first Pixar short directed by a woman. Writer and director Domee Shi explores a mom dealing with an empty nest in a very creative way. You can watch BAO on Disney+, but check out this interesting side-by-side comparison of the film’s storyboards and the final product.
Written and Directed by Bobby Rubio
This short is about a father discovering his son is different from other children and struggling to keep him safe. Written and directed by Bobby Rubio.
Written and Directed by Kristen Lester; Story written by Michael Daley, Bradley Furnish, Lester, and James Robertson
PURL is about an earnest ball of yarn named Purl who gets a job at a fast-paced start-up, but things start to unravel as she tries to fit in with this close-knit group.
Written and Directed by Erica Milsom; Story by Adam Burke, Matthias De Clercq, and Erica Milsom
LOOP is Pixar’s first short to feature a non-verbal character. The film is about a non-verbal, autistic girl and a chatty boy who are partnered on a canoeing trip. To complete their journey across an urban lake, they must both learn how the other experiences the world. You can watch LOOP on Disney+, but check out writer/director Erica Milsom, as well as FLOAT writer/director Bobby Rubio, react to fan comments about their respective films in the video below.
Written and Directed by Rosana Sullivan
KITBULL, directed by Rosana Sullivan and produced by Kathryn Hendrickson, reveals an unlikely connection that sparks between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and a pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time.
Written and Directed by Steven Hunter
OUT is Pixar’s first short featuring an LGBTQ+ character. In this film, a man and his dog switch bodies and the secret of his sexuality is revealed. Watch OUT on Disney+.
Written and Directed by Edwin Chang
WIND is about a grandmother and grandson living in an endless chasm while dreaming of escaping it. The story is a metaphor for immigration.
Written and Directed by Alan Barillaro
This Oscar winner for best animated short is about a baby sandpiper who has to overcome his fear of the water. This one is very relatable to every parent who has watched their child learn to overcome their fear of the ocean. Watch PIPER on Disney+.
RILEY’S FIRST DATE? (2015)
Written and Directed by Josh Cooley
For those who loved INSIDE OUT comes this bonus scene. It’s a stand-alone short but features the same characters from the feature film. Emotions run high when a boy shows up at the front door asking for Riley. Is it a first date? Pixar short featuring the characters from Oscar-winning animation INSIDE OUT. You can watch RILEY’S FIRST DATE? on Disney+.
Written and Directed by Dave Mullins
A pile of lost and found items coming together to teach a toy-stealing schoolyard bully a valuable lesson. Watch LOU on Disney+.
Pixar has many other compelling and moving films for you to check out. Hope this list inspires you to write a short that is just as impactful as these!
Got a great short film script? Enter it into the WeScreenplay Short Script Screenwriting Contest!
Julia Camara is an award-winning Brazilian screenwriter/filmmaker. Julia won a Telly Award for the sci-fi found footage feature Occupants. Julia’s feature directorial debut In Transit, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. Julia’s other writing credits include Area Q and Open Road.