Almost every filmmaker starts out with a short film or two under his/her name. This is the perfect start for anyone who wants to venture into the real deal of one day making a feature film; either through the big sources or just to be an independent filmmaker making ends meet through the crowdfunding platforms. The point remains, a short film is the highlight of a filmmaker’s career, but with all the limelight surrounding the modern short films the real gist is lost.
There are hundreds, thousands of tutorials that’ll introduce you to the world of short filmmaking and with all the online and offline information that’s available, short filmmaking isn’t rocket science. Moreover, the introduction of inexpensive gear has made filmmaking child’s play, literally. You can search the internet for short films and even full length feature films made with nothing more than a smartphone; think about Apple iPhones, Samsung’s Galaxy series of smartphones or the amazing Nokia and now Mirosoft Lumia smartphones. However, amazing cameras, great lighting, soothing soundtrack or inexpensive gear doesn’t really mean the quality of filmmaking is going to increase.
You’d love to watch this informational video titled “How to Make a Short Film” from SantaFe University’s YouTube Channel. The running time is half an hour, but worth watching.
Now, coming back to some important points again; there are three absolutely imperative things to keep in mind before you pick up your camera and make your first short film.
You know why they call it a Short?
A Short film by general definition is any film that’s not long enough to be called feature film. Now, you might ask then what exactly counts as a feature film since there’s no set rule to follow, although you can go by the Academy or the Oscars’ general regulation for the lengths of a short or a feature film. There are short films that run for a mere minute to more than forty five minutes, but as a general rule a good short film shouldn’t run more than fifteen minutes. The globally accepted format that’s loved by the short film festivals and the audiences is less than ten minutes or running time that also includes your credits. Whatever the time may be, your short film should only try to showcase the core of the story. Many a times we try to highlight a lot as if we want to show each and every talent we have. So, you need to make sure that the audience isn’t fed a year’s food on the plate to be eaten all at once. Here’s a really short, an award winning micro short film titled 1 Denar.
Have an amazing Story and keep it simple
“People have forgotten how to tell a story, stories don’t have middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” Steven Spielberg
A Beginning, middle and an end, this shouldn’t be tough to understand. Any great filmmaker would tell you not to mix multiple things, multiple ideas into one project. Your film shouldn’t look and feel like a lost traveler. Look out for an outstanding theme and then write or work with a story that highlights one important message. Anyways, you need to work with a story that sets everything in motion and connects all the dots perfectly. If you want a good example of a really good story that captivates you then you should watch this cute Oscar winning short film titled The Crush by Michael Creagh.
Sound or a Visual Narrative, choose wisely
Follow your heart, you don’t have to implement anything and everything you watch or hear. If you think your short would be better off without any dialogue and the viewer would still be able to get your point then don’t force any of the characters to say anything, if you can narrate the story while visualizing every aspect of it then narrate and if sound is all that makes it to stand out then make sure you have the best sound, best music or the soundtrack. Everybody’s out making a short film and that’s actually not a good thing because with all the flood of short films, it’s getting tough for the talented guys to shine. You need to be on the edge on your toes to make sure that yours stand out and hook the audience. It makes all so more important to pay attention on the basics, the fundamentals. And lastly, always remember what Hou Hsiao-Hsien says“ The Greatest Filmmaking Reward Is Being A Filmmaker.”
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