10 years before Paul Thomas Anderson broke through with Boogie Nights he made a short film called The Dirk Diggler Story, a mockumentary inspired by This Is Spinal Tap. What's most impressive is that Anderson made the short when he was 17 and put it together and VCR to VCR editing system.
Pariah isn't a very widely seen film, but it should be as it is excellent. It first came to life as a short film which became director Dee Rees' graduate thesis. The short made the festival rounds in 2007 and won a ton of awards, and the feature came out in 2011 with the aid of the mentorship of Spike Lee
Destin Daniel Cretton's 22 minute version of Short Term 12, which is itself based on the filmmaker's experiences working at a group home for teenagers, won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at Sundance in 2009. The feature length version came out last year to pretty much universal acclaim and won all sorts of awards for both Cretton and for actress Brie Larson and is a great film that stands out even in a year that was full of great films.
What's not to love about the short film that launched the career of Wes Anderson? Though the feature is about 7 times the length of the short, the two films aren't terribly dissimilar, at least in terms of the story. The short version is a great test run for the feature, which was itself a great test run for Anderson's still-evolving career as a director.
It all starts with Milton. Or, to be more specific, with Milton, the series of animated shorts about beleaguered office worker Milton Waddams (played to perfection by Stephen Root in the feature). Office Space, the feature version, came out in 1999 and has gone on to become one of the great cult comedies of all time.