Writing a Short Film: Uses of short films, Reasons for short films, Tips on writing short films

Screenplays for feature films are usually 90 to 120 pages; equaling about 1:30 minutes to 2 hours.
Screenplays for short films are about 20 to 40 pages; equaling about 20 to 40 minutes.

Short films are enjoyed by many. The audience often prefers them to the normal feature films; reasons being that they are short, very thrilling, straight to the point and time saving. The audience will tell you that it will be better to sit before the TV screen for two hours to watch about four short films, than to spend such time watching only one feature film.

Importance and uses of Short Films

Short films have evolved so much that they have gone beyond being an ordinary movie to becoming means of disseminating information about certain issues, discourse, topics, concepts, brands, goods, commodities and services. These short films are designed to teach the audience what they didn't know about whatever thing that is contained in those films.
Government agencies can produce short films to convey information about any of their policies to the grassroots level.
Health institutions can produce short films to enlighten the audience on certain issues about HIV or other human diseases.
Short films can also be like advertisements where advertisers show their brands to the audience.

Let's talk fully about short films that are in form of movies. 

Short film makers and script writers do take advantage of the enticed audience to always write and produce short movies.
For the fact it is called short film or short movie doesn't mean it is so easy to write and produce. Everything is done for a reason. Also everything has some certain rules which when observed, can lead to success.
Apart from the love the audience has for short movies, there are reasons film makers produce them. Also, there are some certain tips both the script writer and the film-maker learn in order to get the best from their productions.

Reasons for a short film


  • Low budget: 
For a movie to last for nothing more than forty minutes, then everything it shows, every element in its screenplay must be concise.
The characters are not much and their actions and dialogues are very moderate.
This conciseness does not encourage high cost of production as the instruments and equipment needed for the settings are not much.
Most film makers want to get the best with the little they have, so they opt for short films.

  • One man venture:
Making a short film can be a one man venture. One person can write the script, rewrite it, be in the few casts, do the directing and then produce the movie.
Looking for collaborators to produce a feature film can be tiring at times.

  • Bottle-necks:
There are number of stages needed to be passed if one wants to get some Nollywood, Bollywood or Hollywood executives to get involved in making their film or buying their feature film script. As a result of this, they may take personal decisions to boy-cott these long processes to produce a short film by themselves.

  • Information:
In a situation where a verbal enlightenment or a written piece can no longer teach the audience about an issue or a concept, short films on that issue can be written and produced. The audience can easily get the message while enjoying the film.
Advertisers can also use this means to show people what their products are all about.

  • Tutorials:
Just like in the above, a lot of things can be taught through short films. The audience can even learn faster through this.

  • Competitions:
In screenplay writing competitions, competitors are always requested to write and submit screenplays for short films. The winner may eventually have his screenplay produced.

What makes a short film survive?
  • Preciseness and conciseness
  • Simple scenes and settings
  • Straight and active story (no much of flashbacks and dream sequences)
  • Definite story structure
  • One theme exploration
  • Straight to the point


Tips for the script-writer in writing short films

1. Write more on the external conflict between the main character and the opposition. Write less on the internal conflict of the main character. 

2. Assemble and streamline the characters' ventures. Not all the characters should have internal conflicts. You may limit it to just the main character. Too much of internal conflicts can drag the whole story to too many pages.
Before a screenplay comes to an end, all the external and internal conflicts of all the characters must come to an end. This is only obtainable in a feature film.

3. You may not write many details and actions. Just let the moderate dialogues by the characters tell more.

4. Stick to just the main theme. No need to introduce sub themes. It is a short film, it needs to end fast.

5. No much of flashbacks and dream sequences.

6. Do not include settings that may be costly. Remember you may be the one to produce it yourself. Just write a low budget film.

7. Try not to include too many characters.

8. Try and first of all read and understand the topic or the issue at stake before you start writing the screenplay on it.

9. If it's an advert script, be sure to understand what the brand or product is all about.

10. Write with simple words so that the audience can understand.

Written by: Winston 'Winny Greazy' Oge

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