Filmmaking Screenwriting Script Development Short Films

Writing an award-winning short film

Writing a short film is one of the best ways to get yourself noticed in the filmmaking world, they’re much easier to write, create and produce than a feature length film, and the reason for that is simply time and budgets.

In this article, we will look into what consists of a short film, what it actually is, and the best practices to adhere to when developing your next short film.

What is a short film?

A short film is a film that does not go above 45 minutes, it’s a film that is not long enough to be classified as a feature length film and therefore is classified as a short film. 

Why should I create a short film?

pexels-athena-3417667 (1)Short films are great for a lot of reasons, one of the reasons that come to the forefront of our minds is that it is a great lesson in filmmaking.

They are one of the best ways to improve your screenwriting and get noticed in the filmmaking world.

As well as being a learning curve, writing a short film can be seen as your calling card, a script you can use to show potential suitors or representatives to get a flavour of your style of writing.

Let’s have a look at the essentials of short film writing and how to write a gripping, potential award-winning short film.

How long is a short film?

A short film can be anything up to 45 minutes, but, you’ll find most short films running between 5-10 minutes in run time. Different film festivals have different time limits, but generally, it’s between 40-50 minutes.

READ MORE: What is a film treatment and how do I create one?

How to write an award-winning short film

pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3807741 (1)Here we will look at the key points when developing and writing a short film. We will also delve into a few key elements like character development and explore different methods of improving your written dialogue.

Make sure your short film stays short

pexels-karolina-grabowska-4397899 (1)When writing your short film try and keep it to 5-10 minutes maximum, the reason for this is that anything longer will probably not get noticed.

You can fit a lot into a ten minute film, an intricate story that pulls on the heartstrings of the reader.

A short film that’s ten pages maximum will more likely be read by a producer looking for their next project. It will also be much more feasible to have produced cost-wise as it will take a lot less time to make, saving you money on day rates and equipment.

READ MORE: 7 essential short film ideas

Pick an exciting concept

You want your film to stand out in that short period of time, so by picking a unique concept will elevate your short film and give it something different.

A lot of the time it’s easy to get caught up in the latest festival winners and start to base it on their concept which, unfortunately, won’t get your script far.

Instead, come up with your own concepts, think of new ways to tell your story, and engage your audience. There are plenty of ways to create a new or a twist on an existing concept – here’s a great article to read to help you develop your next short film.

Develop a unique protagonist

Creating and developing a unique protagonist is a surefire way to create a distinctive short film, create your character as the focal point to the story. Develop them with different character development exercises, one of the most common is interviewing your character to better understand their way of thinking, mannerisms, and interests. 

Completing these activities will allow you to understand the character and bring their personality to the forefront of your storytelling, it will give it another edge and keep the audience intrigued. 

READ MORE: How to create a compelling character arc

Flip the story on its head

pexels-isaac-pollock-3969392 (1)Create an unexpected twist that will take the reader by surprise! 

A quick tip: Make sure it somehow relates and fits with the story as this can confuse the audience. 

Many times we’ve seen writers put an unexpected twist into their short film that doesn’t sit within the story and loses the reader, in fact, it’s even more damaging than writing a flat, monotone script.

Write great dialogue

Writing great dialogue will be one of your main objectives, this will essential to your story. You’ve only got a few minutes to lead your viewers through your story. You will need concise, gripping dialogue to keep the audience wanting more. 

Make your audience work for the information, give them droplets of info through the character’s dialogue, make them work for it, and remember not to play it safe. You want to stand out and win something with this film. Writing safe dialogue will not give you the cutting edge, exciting dialogue with unexpected turns will!

READ MORE: 7 essential tips to improve dialogue within your script

Let’s have a quick look at some inspirational short films for you to watch…

Our favourite short films:

Check out some of our latest filmmaking articles below!

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