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A short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits”. The term featurette originally applied to a film longer than a short subject, but shorter than a standard feature film.
The increasingly rare term short subject means approximately the same thing. An industry term, it carries more of an assumption that the film is shown as part of a presentation along with a feature film. Short is an abbreviation for either term. Short films are often screened at local, national, or international film festivals and made by independent filmmakers for non profit, either with a low budget or no budget at all. They are usually funded by film grants, non profit organizations, sponsor, or personal funds. Short films are generally used by filmmakers to gain experience and/or prove their talent in order to gain funding for future films from private investors, entertainment companies, or film studios.
A few animated shorts continue within mainstream commercial distribution. For instance, Pixar has screened a short along with each of its feature films during its initial theatrical run since 1995 (producing shorts permanently since 2001). Since Disney acquired Pixar in 2005, Disney has also produced animated shorts since 2007 with the Goofy short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater and produced a series of live action ones featuring The Muppets for viewing on YouTube as viral videos to promote the 2011 movie of the same name.