Featurette is a term used in the American film industry to designate a film usually of three reels in length, or about 24–40 minutes in running time, thus longer than a two-reel short subject but shorter than a feature film. Hence, it is a "small feature" (the ending "-ette" is a common diminutive suffix derived from French). The term was commonly used from before the start of the sound era into the 1960s, when films of such length as the Hal Roach's Streamliners—and several French films of that length—ceased being made, or were made as experimental or art films and subsumed under the more general rubric of short. Its use outside the USA is unknown, although it was as commonly applied to foreign imports as to domestic productions within that country.
After the advent of DVD, the term—at least in America—also gained the meaning of "a brief documentary film covering one or more aspects of the film creation process". In DVD features descriptions, the term "featurette" usually refers to "behind-the-scenes"–type bonus material such as documentaries on special effects, set design, or cast and crew interviews. Many of these "featurettes" are less than 20 minutes in length.
Today, the latter definition, though possibly an inaccurate usage of the original term, is far more common.