What makes a great short film?

Darious Britt

Darious Britt has 12 main points that determine what makes a “great” short film:

Length/time – The best short films are from 45 seconds to 40 minutes long, the shorts the better.

Know your resources – Don’t be overly ambitious if you do not have the resources available to you.

Show, don’t tell – Tell the story without a lot of talking because it can be too much to follow, pictures stick with an audience better.

Strong opening – Needs to have a strong opening in order to hook the audience and engage them quickly.

Conflict is king – Gets your attention as you need conflict to keep it interesting.

Not a feature – Minimise the backstory so that it is able to all fit into a short period of time.

Avoid a voice over narration – It doesn’t always add anything to the story, and especially with a short film the story can normally be read without reading narration.

Film a subject matter – Make sure that you can point a camera at it so you can actually film it making it easier to follow.

Event based – Event based story’s can happen at one place at one time which is best for a short film.

Minimise characters and locations – Too many characters means people can drop out of filming and too many locations can be expensive and confusing in a short space of time.

Take risks – Explore characters, don’t be similar to others

Write what you know – More original when it comes from something you know or have actually experienced.

What I think makes a great short film –  A closed ending, The message, Keeping the audience interested, Easy to follow and Makes sense.

Some films I have watched which demonstrate these qualities – 

Candy crime – It is symbolic, It has few locations, few characters and very little speech.

The black hole- Has a good message, a twist, no speech, good concept, one character one location, event based, symbolic, a “what if” film, easy to follow.

Lovefield- Has a twist, very little speech, little characters, one location and a strong start which pulls the audience in straight away.

Further Research

7 Rules for writing a short film-   https://www.raindance.org/7-rules-for-writing-short-films/

7 secrets to making a short film-  http://www.scriptmag.com/features/7-simple-secrets-making-a-short-film

As the articles in the links say, the most important rules for making a short film are to make sure you keep it short most obviously, keep it snappy and get to the point quickly to stop the audience from losing interest and the film coming across boring if it takes too long to get to the point, a short film needs to have a story line that is able to fit into the short time there is to film whilst still being interesting and making sense. A good quote is from Darious Britt which is “Show don’t tell”, this is an important part of the short film making process which relates to what i just spoke about as there is only a short period of time to film in, and so you can’t have a full on story with loads of talking and voice overs etc.. that you can tell throughout because it would take way too long to get to the end and be too much to follow in the short space of time, it needs to be keep short and sweet which is why you need to show the story to the audience rather than telling them because it is easier for them to follow and helps keep the film short.


3 thoughts on “What makes a great short film?

  1. Its good that you have linked the advice to some examples of films.well done. You now need to extend your research and get advice from more people about what makes a great short – find some quotes to discuss.


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