Making Short Films

 
 

  Time for Some Popcorn

Sit back, put up your feet and relax with your own 60 minute short film festival.

The 5 films you'll find here are analysed and deconstructed in Making Short Films with the full scripts and interviews with the filmmakers.

The films were chosen for the book because they are different in style, genre and the ambitions of the filmmakers. They have been selected to inspire study and comment, not because they are necessarily good or bad, values no one ever agrees on when it comes to movies. In this sense, they are a good representation of filmmakers everywhere, whose goals can certainly differ greatly across the board. Whilst some filmmakers make short films as an art form in their own right, some use this format to provide a sort of 'taster' of how an extended piece of their work might look. Others have commercial goals, and tend to create the sort of films which might be hosted on websites such as O2.co.uk in order to promote a product. Therefore, when studying short films, it is a good idea to take a look at a diverse range of approaches, as found in films below.

If you have a copy of Making Short Films, you can read the scripts, see how the words have been transferred to film and decide if you think the filmmakers have done a good job, and whether you may have done anything differently yourself.

  Noise Control

Noise Control

A hapless TV crew sent to the Welsh Valleys to investigate noise pollution by supersonic jets gets a mute reception from locals in this 8-minute comedy written by Terence Doyle and directed by Alexis Bicât. It stars indie actor Nick Moran of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame.



  G.M.

GM

In this silent film by writer-director Martin Pickles, an Edwardian gentleman is tormented by spirits who appear through holes in his living room wall. Shot in muted colour, this surreal 7-minute film is a homage to Georges Méliès, writer-director of A Trip to the Moon, made in 1902 and considered the first feature film ever made.

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  Room 11

room 11

This 15-minute horror pastiche where the murder of an innocent child may or may not have occurred is set in a spooky Gothic mansion and provides the perfect Hitchcockian twist by writer Eoin O'Callaghan. The 15-minute film was shot on 35mm and directed by Clive Brill as a showreel to raise money for a feature.



  Greta May

Greta May

Greta May learns that the way to get over one man is to get under another in this 10-minute film by writer-director Clifford Thurlow. The film follows the Eight-Point Guide for writing short scripts created for Making Short Films, and was adapted from an original short story to show the hurdles and pitfalls of the adaptation process.

 



  Broken

BrokenScreened at more than 140 festivals world wide, Broken is a 20-minute feature style horror shot on mini DV with more than 100 EFX created on a home computer with Apple's Final Cut Pro. Directed by Alex Ferrari and written by Alex Ferrari and Jorge Flores Rodriguez, you can get the film at http://www.whatisbroken.com/

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Making Short Films
Eight-Point Guide to writing Shorts

MSF Book Cover

  1. Introduce main character(s); set the scene.
  2. Give the character a problem, obstacle, obsession or addiction.
  3. Let the character work out a plan to overcome the problem.
  4. Before setting out to solve the problem, there may be a moment of doubt that will require the hero to seek advice from a mentor: teacher, best friend. This is an opportunity to let the audience know more about the problem and weigh it up in their own minds. What would they do?
  5. With new resolve (and often a magical gift from the mentor: the watches Q gives James Bond; Dorothy's ruby slippers), the hero sets out to overcome the problem, obstacle, obsession or addiction.
  6. Overcoming the problem or challenge (getting the girl; escaping tyranny; saving the world) will be met by extreme opposition from the rival, who will usually have greater but different strengths and will in some ways bear similarities to the hero: the nemesis is the hero's dark side.
  7. The hero will appear to fail in his quest. He will give up or glimpse defeat, even death, and will require superhuman effort to overcome this daunting final task.
    The hero wins the final battle, with an opponent, or enemy, or with himself, and returns to his natural state wiser, or stronger, or cured, but not necessarily happier.
  8. The journey has made him a different person. He has glimpsed death and can never go back to the simplicity of what he once was.

Ten Tips

  • Don't trust in inspiration, unless you want to be a poet. The first idea you get is often borrowed from every movie you've seen and book you've read.
  • If you do work on that inspired project: re-write, re-write; re-write. That is the most important three things you will ever learn about scriptwriting, and I repeat: re-write, re-write, re-write.
  • See your writing from the other side of the screen, from the audience point of view; if there is no audience, there is no message.
  • Do not adjust your writing to the market by attempting to stay abreast, or even ahead of changing trends; such work is a form of cultural static lacking veracity and, often, even relevance.
  • Be true to your own vision. Write about what you know about? Absolutely. But then write what you believe in.
  • Four steps to writing a short film scenario: find the ending; then the beginning; then the first turning point – the event that gets the story going; then the second turning point, the scene that swings the story around and sets up the ending.
  • Enter your story a short time before the crisis that ignites the drama.
  • Scenes are like parties: arrive late and leave early.
  • Persevere.
  • Listen to criticism. But don't always take it.


Making Short Films Romanian Book Cover

Romanian version of Making Short Films