You really can’t make money or get distribution on one or two shorts. That’s not to say that they isn’t any potential at all in the making of short films. They are an important learning experience and calling card, especially now that anybody can screen shorts via the Internet. So make shorts – and make sure you share them! Here are 7 tips to fine tune your short script.
A short film can be anything from fifteen seconds to forty five minutes in length. Make your short film script as short as possible because the shorter the short, the less costly it will be to produce. Of course, digital technology frees up filmmakers, yet time still costs money, so does feeding a hungry crew, and if you shoot too fast your short film might end up looking amateurish. It has to be cheap but shouldn’t LOOK cheap! Plus, if you want to get your short into a festival, then keep it to no more than ten minutes, which is usually 7-8 pages maximum. Why? Because if your short film is longer, it will eat up a longer slot and festivals love to play as many shorts as possible! You can also create real emotion in just a few minutes.
The great thing about shorts is that they can be anything since you don!’ have studio execs on your tail. However, don’t discard the practicalities of writing your script. I have read scripts with pages of chase-action scenes and car crashes, and many writers seem not to realize how time consuming it would be to actually shoot. In fact, see the writing of a short as an opportunity to become more aware of what each line you put down on paper implies and costs. Visions of white horses galloping in the moonlight certainly look amazing in your mind but are you sure you’re good friends with a wrangler and/or a CGI specialist? If you only have access to modest resources, think small.
Apricot is a good example of short film that could have been done on a low budget (it shows such impeccable production value I doubt it was actually done on the cheap) because it deals with two people sitting at a table at a cafe yet manages to show a wide range of emotion. Along the same lines, the Asian short film Just a Love Story takes place almost entirely in an elevator. Write for locations that are interesting yet practical, think of access and control, and avoid remote locations requiring driving for miles.
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