Nowadays, names like Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, and Christopher Nolan are synonymous with the kind of big-budget studio filmmaking that turns movies into grand events. These are the names that draw people back to the multiplex and away from the couch, their grand storytelling skills on full display for two full hours or longer. (Often longer.) But a director’s craft, style, and interests are sometimes best showcased in their shorter works, which is why we delved into the depths of ten celebrated filmmakers’ careers to find the short films that are most indicative of their talents.

Whether they were film school projects, ideas that they would later evolve into features, odes to a beloved performer, or part of a collection of multiple tales, these shorts are an economical and entertaining way for a director to get at the very essence of an idea. Many of today’s most well-known directors launched their careers with shorts that look nothing like the work that would later make them famous, while some waited until later in their careers to try out or return to the format. In this list, we look at the projects that put names like Tim Burton and Lynne Ramsay on the map, as well as lesser-known work that is well worth checking out if you’re a fan. Most of these shorts are available on YouTube and streaming — whenever possible we’ve included direct links to where you can watch them (as of this writing).

10 Great Short Films Made by Famous Directors

We've all seen our biggest directors' biggest movies, but these are the lesser known short films from directors like George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, and David Lynch.
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