How to Write a Short Film Script

How to Write a Short Film Script

Writing short films can help you flex your screenwriting muscle and make an impact on the film world. They’re also a great way to win awards and get your career off the ground.


When writing a short film, stick to story structure. This will make your story clearer to read and a lot more enjoyable for audiences.



Writing a short film can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door of the film industry. Whether you’re looking to get your first feature made or you just want to make a fun short for your friends, it’s important to learn how to write a short film script that will stand out from the crowd and grab your audience’s attention.


Unlike TV or features, you won’t have the time to develop multiple storylines and characters, so it’s important to focus on one single protagonist with a goal that matters to them. This can be as simple as a specific moment in their life, but it’s crucial that you think about where that moment fits into the overall story and how this character is progressing in their journey.


This will help you establish the character, build tension and create conflict in your story. It’s also important to consider how the character would react in a realistic way and what would happen if they did something different than expected.


You can find inspiration for your short film in real life experiences or through stories that you’ve heard. The key is to use these ideas to spark your imagination and turn them into a story that you’ll be proud of.


It’s not always easy to come up with a good idea for a short film, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you brainstorm and develop a story. You can also take advantage of the internet and watch a lot of short films to get ideas.


Before you sit down and start writing your own short film, it’s a good idea to read a few produced scripts so that you can learn the best practices of screenwriting. You can even find a service that will give you feedback from a pro screenwriter on your short script.


Besides writing, it’s also important to keep up with the latest trends in your genre. This can be done by watching shorts that have been submitted to festivals and searching for similar genres online.



Short films can be a great way to get started in the filmmaking industry, and they are a good way to gain exposure. They can also be a good way to practice telling smaller, more focused stories before graduating into features.


However, it is important to remember that a short film doesn’t necessarily have the same rules as feature films. While there are some similarities, such as the need to develop a character arc, there are several key differences.


First, short films may or may not have conflict. This can be frustrating for beginner writers who have read many screenwriting books that state that conflict is the heart of drama and storytelling, but it’s important to accept this difference.


Secondly, short film characters often remain the same throughout the course of the story, rather than changing dramatically as is the case in longer narratives. This can lead to a lack of character development and a feeling that the main character is not as interesting or complex as they could be.


Finally, short films have a limited time frame for their story to be told, which can make it more difficult to tell a complete story. This means that a lot of attention must be paid to character development and dialogue, to ensure that the story is moving forward at all times.


One of the most common mistakes beginners make when writing a short film is to overuse cliches and filler. Using these techniques can help to pad out a short film and make it seem more like a longer feature, but they shouldn’t be used as a shortcut for originality.


For example, starting a short film with a character waking up from a nightmare is overused and will not give the audience any insight into the protagonist. Instead, a more interesting piece of action can be used to introduce the character.


Another cliche to avoid is compartment shots. This is a cinematic device that takes place when characters look through a container, such as the rubbish bin or their fridge. It’s effective in allowing the audience to see the contents of a container and gives an unobstructed view of a character’s face, but it’s not a great idea to use too many of these shots.



Theme is a core concept of short film storytelling. It allows the film to have dramatic unity, while also addressing the audience’s emotions. It’s important to be clear about this theme in the early stages of a project, as it will help you to write a compelling story that will appeal to audiences.


There are many ways to find inspiration for a short film theme. One of the best places to start is by reading sample scripts. This will not only give you a better idea of what is expected in a short film, but it will also spark new ideas and inspiration for you to use.


Another way to generate ideas for a short film is to pay attention to the world around you. Look for stories that can be told in a few minutes and that relate to current events. This will make it easier for the viewer to connect with the subject matter and will make it more relevant to them.


Once you’ve found a few good ideas, it’s time to start writing. Some people like to write their scripts from scratch, while others prefer to have a rough outline before they begin writing. Whether you decide to write your script from scratch or have a rough outline, it’s essential to have a strong structure for the film.


Having a strong structure for your film will make it much easier to keep track of where you’re going and how the characters are moving from one scene to the next. It will also help you to see if the overall story is pacing well, or if it is falling apart.


When writing a short film, it’s important to consider where each scene fits into the overall narrative. It’s vital to ask yourself questions about each scene, such as, “What is the overall purpose of this scene? What is the character facing?” and “What hard choices are they being forced to make?” This will help you to determine how this scene will contribute to the theme.


As with all film, it’s important to keep in mind that a short film is an art form, and it should have a unique voice and style. It should not be overly CGI-heavy or feature complicated stunts. Generally, this is not the type of film that should be made for a small budget.



If you want to write a short film, you must have an intriguing story that will grab the attention of your audience. However, this requires creativity and a lot of work. You must also know how to make your plot simple and logical so that the story can be told in only a few minutes.


A short film should be no more than 40-45 minutes long. It should be able to capture the attention of the audience within just a few seconds and make an impact on them.


You should start your short film with a strong opening scene that will set the theme and mood for the rest of the story. For example, you can show a character struggling to fit in at school and dealing with an alcoholic father or you can create a conflict by showing an alien crash landing on a beach next to a family who are sunbathing.


The opening scene should also introduce the main character to the audience. You can do this by showing them leaving their house and heading to school or by showing them having a confrontation with a bully at school.


One way to come up with a good plot is to watch a lot of different short films. This will help you learn more about how these stories are structured and what they need to do in order to have an impact on the audience.


Once you have a plot, you need to create characters that will tell the story in an interesting way. You should also choose a unique setting for your short film. For example, if you are writing a horror film, you could shoot the movie in a dark room or in a desert landscape.


Another way to create a good short film is to use the right transitions between scenes. These transitions will help your audience understand what is happening in each scene and how they fit together. They are commonly called FADE IN, FADE OUT, CUT TO, and DISSOLVE TO.


In addition, you should try to keep the narrative dialogue as minimal as possible. This will ensure that the audience will have a better idea of what is going on in each scene and will be able to follow the story more easily.