In the one year that I have been writing for The Cinemaholic, I have had the pleasure to converse with a lot of talented, young, aspiring filmmakers. After all our discussions on cinema, one thing has become very clear me – if you want to be a filmmaker, you need to watch films and you need to make films. By “making films”, I do not mean that you straight away jump into a feature-length project. Even the greatest filmmakers have begun their career with shorts, they help you in showcasing your abilities and hopefully secure the financing of your future endeavors. But, making a short film is not the same as making a feature-length film; you have to keep it short without making it feel incomplete or incoherent.
But then, I guess an aspiring filmmaker would already know all this and would not need to hear it from me. But, a lot of them are a tad bit reluctant to get started, probably because they might not know how to exactly go about it. Consider this piece that last bit of motivation for you to get started on your dreams. Again, I do not claim to be an expert; any insight I can provide is based on the multitude of short films I have watched over the years.
Do note that the individual steps to making a short film are not too different from that of creating a feature work, albeit on a much smaller scale. Also, since there is a constraint of time in a short film, there are slight differences in how you go about each step. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules in art, so make slight adjustments based on your creative needs.
1. The Screenplay
If you have read my article on screenwriting, you’d know how important a screenplay is to a movie. Every film starts with a screenplay, but for a short film, the key word is “short”. Your screenplay has to be short, concise, clear and more importantly, complete. A lot of amateur short films I’ve seen suffer from one major flaw – they bite off more than they can chew, and the final work lacks coherence and clarity. As creative individuals, you must be bursting with ideas, but make sure you pick one idea and develop it such that it can be translated onto the screen in a short time frame. The most effective short film screenplays are those which can convey a point with utmost clarity within a short time frame.