Thursday, November 19, 2015

Write a Compelling Short Film Script

Write a Compelling Short Film Script
imageplaceholderJeanne Veillette Bowerman
Online Editor

This week's screenwriting tip is about writing a short film from writer/director
Kim Garland. I've been honored to have Kim as one of our contributors for the
 past few years and am sad to see her move on to other adventures, but her
column,Write, Direct, Repeat, will live on the site. Be sure to catch up on
 her great advice!

There's still time to sign up for Kathy Berardi's online class Creating the Short Film.
 It starts today, but as long as you register this week, you can still have access.


by Kim Garland

For the most part, good writing is good writing, and the skills you’re developing to
write feature scripts will also apply when you write shorts: a three-act structure
 (but for shorts, simply think setup, conflict, and resolution); a universal theme; a
clear dilemma and stakes; and an active protagonist.

But there are challenges specific to writing a great short film that can be overcome
 by understanding what makes shorts — and the audience for shorts — unique.

Create a Dynamic Opening Scene

If asked for just one piece of advice for creating a successful short film, I’d have to go
with the old, “the shorter, the better” mantra. Because it really is true — most short films
can be improved by making them a little shorter.

But the one place where you can benefit from not trying to build in too much information
 is your opening scene. Even though you have a limited amount of time to tell your story,
 you don’t need to front-load your film with all of your setup at once.

Use your opening to establish tone and introduce your characters in a fascinating way,
 but don’t weigh it down with backstory and exposition. Entice your audience to want to
 learn more.

If the opening can double as a “before” shot of your protagonist’s life (i.e. before the
 transformative event of your story), so much the better, but be sure even the most mundane
life is portrayed in a curiosity-inducing way.

Layer Your Storytelling... 

Read more tips on writing short films... 

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