From the Blog

5 Guidelines to Follow When Making Your Short Film

Author: Mario Petkovski

Short films fall in their own category and they have always been popular, especially for directors who are just starting in the movie business. These types of movies are unique due to the length and they prove that you can make an eye-catching movie that only lasts a couple of minutes. 

Basically, any movie that is shorter than 50 minutes qualifies as a short film in order to qualify for Sundance Film Festival. On the other hand, any movie that has a run-time of 40 minutes or less will qualify for the shorts categories at the Academy Awards even though many of them are a lot less than that. 

By the way, do you know that basketball legend Kobe Bryant won an Academy Award for ‘Dear Basketball’, a short film co-produced with Glen Keane?!

Short Films are focused on storytelling within a few minutes that will send a message to the viewer. In the following article, we will look at some of the guidelines that you should follow in order to make the perfect short film.

1. Keep it Short

Do not push the time on the film and remember you are making a short film so anything from three minutes to forty-five minutes will be great. The more tightly you make your film the more impactful it will be. Do not fall into the trap of confusing people with complicated storytelling: clear storytelling is one of the attributes of short films. 

The other benefit of making your film short is that it will be less expensive. Try to avoid expensive locations and special equipment while making your movie. Try to be on point and with the story and leave the audience wanting more.

2. Keep it compact and minimal

While you write your script always apply the rule of simplicity. Super complicated scripts with complicated and expensive scenes will only make your short film pointless. Short films are about provoking some kind of emotions on viewers, providing them with something that they can relate to. High-end scenes with car crashes and expensive drone shots look amazing, but they do not go well with short film making.

3. Tell a story

The only thing that makes short films interesting is the story behind them. You should always find simple ways of delivering your story to the viewers. Avoid telling fake stories or impossible things that are hard to process. You have to create your story with heart and full of emotions, viewers will definitely appreciate it. Do not start with trying to make your film unique or creative, simply build up a story that you and your viewers can relate to and go deep with it. 

Storytelling is another crucial point of short films. You should avoid complicated storytelling that will leave the viewers confused. Simple is better.

4. Engage your audience

Catching the attention of your audience is crucial. That is why the first minute of the film is very important. As soon as you impress your viewers or make them wonder what will happen next in the first minute, they will be watching the whole movie. Avoid pauses and black screens from the start. Be authentic and give the viewers a striking opening sequence, which is the only way to catch their attention. 

This does not mean that the rest of the film is not that important. The recipe is simple: make a statement with the start, then build a meaningful middle part and a satisfying ending. It’s a bit like the NFL Superbowl: it has two parts, separated by a middle one -the halftime show – that keeps the audience enticed.

5. Avoid clichés

Nowadays, people often fall into the same trap by always making the same stories about love crisis, innocent kids and relationships. You can make a simple and creative short film without the same topics we see all the time. Try to encourage emotions on the audience in a different more creative way, leaving them with something to think about when the film is over. 

These are some of the guidelines to follow when you make your short film. You will learn a lot throughout the process and from the feedback of your audience. 


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