Giphy is defining the emerging genre because it has partnered with website-building company Squarespace to host a competition for gif creators, culminating in a film festival (of sorts).
"We believe you can tell a compelling, entertaining, professional-grade story in 18 seconds or less," reads the website announcing the festival, which will be held on November 8 at the Metrograph Theater on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
Contestants may submit their tiny films by uploading them to FilmFreeway.com in any of five categories: narrative, stop-motion, animated, experimental, or "wild card/other," though it has only announced that one overall prize--of $10,000--will be awarded.
It's difficult to conceive of what a festival of tiny snips of video might entail. Does everyone filter into a theater, take their seats, munch their popcorn, watch the trailers, and then settle in for the feature film...only to be standing up 18 seconds later? Or could the whole operation be set up like a museum of looping gifs? Is this even for real? Inc. asked Giphy to explain.
Representatives provided a bit of additional detail. Here's what we know so far.
It will be invite-only.
It will be emceed.
It will be broken into five segments, one for each category. So it'll be a lot like a standard movie screening, "only a lot more rapid-fire," and with short breaks in between films featuring appearances from various hosts, company representatives say. (Giphy declined to name the emcee or the hosts.)
The evening will culminate with the announcement of the grand prize winner, who in addition to the $10,000 will receive a five-year Squarespace subscription, worth more than $500. And then everyone can go upstairs to the Metrograph's Commissary for the afterparty, drinks, and food.
Just one more question remained.
Can a gif really be a "film?" Isn't there something that differentiates a feature presentation from a looped short composed of a mere two seconds of Beyonce's Lemonade?
Not according to the dictionary.
Merriam-Webster equates "film" with "motion picture," which it defines as: "a series of pictures projected on a screen in rapid succession with objects shown in successive positions slightly changed so as to produce the optical effect of a continuous picture in which the objects move."
That settles it.