There are many ways into the business. One that has never been as accessible as it is now is writing and making a short film. Ten to fifteen years ago there were a handful of well known short film schemes – thinking Shooting Gallery/Tartan Shorts – that were the ONLY way into an otherwise closed shop. These have gone but the short film as a way in, and most certainly a calling call or show reel for the writer or director, is very much alive.
Although there are no hard and fast rules, short film scripts are generally from one page to thirty. While you never want to limit your imagination, it is wise to think about limiting the amount of locations, the amount of characters and lay off the special effects if you want it made! If you have an idea that is simple, easily expressed and would work to engage the audience in a shorter time frame – then get writing!
Short film scripts, by their nature, take less time to write than a feature or TV pilot would take but that doesn’t make them any less brilliant.
Once you have it written, it is time to get it in front of people. This means you move into marketing the script. This can be done by contacting filmmakers you know with loglines or even the script itself.
If you don’t have many contacts and are doing this fresh, then perhaps now is the time to go out and make some contacts at networking and industry events. The other ripe picking ground for promoting your script are industry notice boards like Talent Circle and Shooting People. However, without doubt the daddy of short film script marketing is Twitter. Either by tweeting loglines or by DMing Filmmakers (politely of course) you can get some real interest in your script.
Although strictly it is not you, the writer, that is out and about scouting locations, lugging equipment or calling the shots – you are still very much involved in the “making it” process. In fact, the development process can be where you get most of your learning in this whole cycle. First of all, don’t assume that the script you wrote is going to make it to the set unchanged. It will be edited, changed, pruned, nipped and tucked before you get to filming. Directorial input, cast input and budgeting restraints mean that your creative decisions will be challenged. Some for the best, others not. Deal with it, it’s a collaboration.
From writing the script to seeing the finished product could take anything from a weekend – if you do one of the 72 hour challenges out there – through to a couple of months. But the point is you are more likely to go through this process and have something to show at the end of it if you start writing. And a short film is a great way to get started.
Don’t forget LSF has its very own short film script competition running called “50 Kisses“ . For your chance to get your two page script made, and get a writing credit in a feature film, then CLICK HERE to find out more.