Short films are often created in order to promote directors or film makers that are young, unheard of or up-and-coming trying to gain recognition and credit for their work. The directors and film makers of short films would earn acclaiment through film festivals such as the BFI London Film Festival or British Independent Film Festival and film competitions. An example of a successful short film director that gained huge recognition through his short film is Fede Alvarez who had overnight success with his sci-fi, five minute and $300 budget film that was distributed on YouTube. After the film rapdily went 'viral', within forty eight hours Alvarez had been acknowledged by Hollywood film companies who offered him the opportunity to create a mainstream, full length film with a budget of $30 million.
Short films are often used to educate people and comment on current, political, ethical or moral issues. These controversial themes are often shown in order to initiate debate and discussion and provoke thought. Many portray social issues such as consumerism, evident in 'Sold' directed by Nadia Attia, and integration explored in 'For the love of' directed by Chris Sheriff. Furthermore, a British short film directed by Tom Harper is explores an experimental and controversial theme that is set in the near future and can be described as having dystopian elements. The film addresses the contemporary concern of current wars, although the war taking place and spoken about in the film is not specified, and the extent to which they are becoming increasingly bigger issues and how ordinary people may be affected.
Many short films allow directors and film makers to break traditional conventions of typical mainstream, full length films and experiment with narrative form and technical elements. This is because the expectations of a short film audience are very different from the expectations of a mainstream audience. For example, those paying to see a feature film would expect a close ended film in order to be satisfied and have their expectations met whereas those watching a short film are prepared to see an alternative ending such as an open ending that is unresolved. A short film that uses an open ended ending is 'Sign Language' that is unresolved but suggests what could happen next which is a relationship sparking between the protagonist and woman. Short films are often used by directors and film directors in order for them to break and challenge conventions in many terms such as cinematography. For example, many short films use kinetic, hand held camera work in order to create realism as an alternative to the traditional still camera work. This is evident in the short film about lost souls 'Double Take' directed by Toa Stappard which creates a documentary style and differs greatly from many feature films.