Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Short Film Writing 101

So many of the websites and how-to-do books out there focus on the writing or making of the feature length film. But truth be told, writing and making a feature is such a daunting and overwhelming undertaking first time out. So here are some resources for writing and making the short film.

From Karen Gocsik and Serguei Bassine, the writer and director of the short film, Because of Mama.

In a short film, there's no time to develop an elaborate plot structure. In fact, as we noted earlier, some short film makers fear time constraints and so eschew story entirely. They make films based on situation, not story. Generally, these films are ironic: they show characters in unusual situations that are resolved through some final "twist."

Story is different. Stories evolve when characters want something, are blocked from having it, and resolve the matter in some way. In a story, characters don't simply find themselves in ironic situations. They grow. They change. The structure of the film is based on this growth. However, in the short film, the character's desire has to be made clear very early in the film. The obstacles have to arise almost immediately. The road to resolution has to be well-plotted and well-paced. If you manage all of this, you'll have produced a successful short screenplay.

And a good place to start is HERE, a website devoted to the creating of and making of the short film 'Because Of Mama'. And after perusing the advice layed out by the filmmakers in the sidebar, you can read the STEP OUTLINE, then read THE SCRIPT, and then watch the finished production of the film HERE.

One caveat...I didn't think Because of Mama was a particularly stellar effort when all was said and done...but it's a decent short film, and a lot can still be learned from the film and the filmmakers.

Also worth checking out is The Lunch Date. Again, not a home run in my books, but still decent plus a transcript of the screenplay is HERE. And you can watch the finished film below:

I still think one of the best short films I've seen recently is The Black Hole.

Simple, clear, effective...a clever idea with a good ending not to mention nice execution and it looks great...all the necessary elements for a successful short film.

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