Short Film Tutorial #1: Developing Your Story

Hello! I’m sure you’ve heard of V Studios Short Film Contest that we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. If you caught the tweet two days ago about a series of short film tutorials, you’ll have an idea of what’s going on.

This is the first of a series of posts containing tutorials by V Studios for making a short film. Now, these aren’t exactly definitive. There are a lot of ways of making a short film. You might have your own way. These tutorials are merely a guide. To help you, to help our beginners. So let’s cut to the chase and start, shall we?

How to develop your story for a short film

Think of a basic story idea. You can get a lot of ideas for films from things you read in daily life, short stories, newspapers, etc. Just remember that for this contest, it should fall on any of the following themes:

  • V-Indonesia 2012
  • I’m M.A.D. (Making a Difference)
  • Network Marketing Concepts like:
    • Dream
    • Belief
    • Financial Freedom, etc.

Focus on the theme that appeals greatly to you. But remember this is about the story. Make sure it’s a story that you relate to and others will also find interesting.

Script your story idea. You will need to have a script, or you can’t have a film. Don’t be afraid to write a script, in fact a script for a short film can come in different forms. You can create an outline of the events that will happen to your character or you can create a frame-by-frame drawing or storyboard. Writing a script lets you visualize and think about your short film as a whole, that way, when it’s time for you to shoot your masterpiece, you will be able to do so with so much ease.

Example of a script format

This is a storyboard.

(Storyboard, Audio-Video Script Format)

Keep it short. Aim for a story that can be wrapped up in no more than 10 minutes. Greater duration can sometimes mean higher production costs.

Aim for attention.  Ideally, your film should open with an image or event that emotionally engages the audience. Viewers should feel placed in an authentic environment with characters they can understand and empathize with. If possible, try to close your short film with a touching final moment.

Forget elaborate plot structures. There’s simply not enough time for serious character and narrative development in the short film form. Your film’s protagonist should have an extremely strong need that is made clear as soon as possible. An obstacle to fulfilling that need should be mounted in the script as soon as possible.

Aim for comedy. Weighty dramas are best reserved for the longer form of the feature film, where actors and a crew have the time and space to develop pathos. Make your audience laugh.

Write your story with narrative efficiency in mind. Think of actionable images. Too much dialogue is boring. Concentrate on the media you’re using, which is visual, and let it be the focus of your story.

And this ends part 1 of our Short Film tutorial series.

On Friday: Short Film Tutorial #2: Taking good shots


P.S.–Don’t forget to check out our main post on V Studios Short Film Contest! If you think you’re ready for shooting your short film, or have already made one, start sending your entries!


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