Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes?
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Topic: Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes?

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    Default Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes?

    For a film school project, I am suppose to write and direct a short film script, that is 5 to 8 minutes long but I am having trouble coming up with a story where a protagonist undergoes a change in such short amount of time, especially since an antagonist has to be established as well, in order to motivate that change.

    I have come up with longer stories, but cannot come up with one that short. I was thinking of perhaps doing a subtitled recap in the opening, kind of like what the first Star Wars movies did, and open with a recap of what happened so far.

    That way, all the short film is, is a third act climax and resolution. But the disadvantage to that is, is that the protagonists, character development has to be explained through text, rather than the audience actually experiencing it as it goes. But at the same time, I have to come up with a story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how I should approach this, or if a subtitled recap is a good idea? What do you think?

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    Basic story generation ideas that apply to this and more:

    1: Think of people you know who have quirky character traits. Write a slice of life story amplifying that quirk.

    2: Start with a character. Similar to the last one, generate a character, and figure out what there opposite would be. Have the two opposites meet and let it unfold from there.

    3: Don't think too big. Go people watching somewhere and make a story out of something you see.

    4: Antagonists can never be antagonists in their own mind. Everybody feels like they are the good guy. Think of a scenario where people have goals that end up pitting them against each other.

    This should get you started. Keep in mind the story has to be yours. We can't make your film school project for you. The story generators I came up with should help you think of something, but ultimately it has to be YOURS. YOU have to work out kinks in the story, and YOU have to make it work. Film school is your place to fail. Try stuff, and you can always get feedback from professors and us, but if you wait until everything is "perfect" in your mind to start, then you won't learn anything.

    -AF


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    Okay thanks. The teacher of the class said the same thing, and to go by people in real life. But even with people I would know in real life, even if they have quirky traits, I haven't been able to think of a story that would have a reason to put those traits in. I could write those traits down, but they would be pointless, since they do not have a theme with a beginning, middle and end, to go with them. They are themeless traits it seems, or I cannot find a theme to put them in.

    Plus the people I see everywhere are never doing anything really deep or profound for a story either. I feel like I got ideas, but not ones about people I know, themewise, and not ones that can get covered in 5-8 minutes without some sort of subtitled recap.

    I have story ideas, I just feel they are too long. So is the problem the story, or the way I am telling it, and I need to figure out a way to condense it down?

    Like for example, their have been entire feature films, made out of what were originally short films. So maybe I could do sort of the opposite and condense a longer script down to 8 minutes.

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-08-2017 at 04:59 PM.

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    I think something that might help you is watching short films that are 5-8 minutes. You're over analyzing this, and it doesn't need to be completely deep or profound. Just tell a story. Watch some short films that do that, and observe how they do. We can help you with coming up with prompts for ideas, but we can't think of an idea for you like I said before. At some point you're going to have to figure this out on your own.

    -AF


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    Okay thanks. I watched some short films and one thing I noticed was that not everything is wrapped up in the end, all the time. Is that okay for a short, and maybe that has to happen when it's only 8 minutes or less, or is that poor story telling, and I shouldn't leave parts of the plot hanging?


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    The majority of the plot should be resolved, though you don't need to go into great detail about the rest of the character's lives. Check out the website shortoftheweek.com. It has high quality short films that are worth watching. Watch across a few genres, and since there are some of many different lengths, find ones primarily that fall in the 5-8 min category.

    -AF


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    Okay thanks. What do you think about recapping a lot of the plot in subtitles beforehand to save time, would that be a good idea? I'll check them out as well. Star Wars and The Road Warrior did this in their openings to save a lot of time, if that helps.


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    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Okay thanks. What do you think about recapping a lot of the plot in subtitles beforehand to save time, would that be a good idea? I'll check them out as well. Star Wars and The Road Warrior did this in their openings to save a lot of time, if that helps.
    No. Show don't tell- basic rule of writing/acting. Star Wars is the exception that proves the rule.

    -AF


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    Show don't tell is the basic rule, but even my teacher in the class says that this rule can be broken and he pointed out how Scorsese does it all the time, by telling large parts of the story in narration. Isn't the reason to have written or voice over narration to save time, and keep the movie from being longer?

    Or if telling instead of showing is not the answer, what can I do to cut the story to a shorter length, without narration then? What I could do is have one character explain to another everything that has happened so far, but that is still kind of telling and not showing though, right?

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-08-2017 at 09:39 PM.

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    Pro Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Mick Scarborough's Avatar
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    Well if you feel you can pull it off, try it and see if you are a Scorsese.


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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Steve Olander's Avatar
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    -"For a film school project, I am suppose to write and direct a short film script, that is 5 to 8 minutes long but I am having trouble coming up with a story where a protagonist undergoes a change in such short amount of time, especially since an antagonist has to be established as well, in order to motivate that change."-

    This is why you are in school, to learn things you don't know. To learn them you put thought into them yourself. You review what you were told and told to read, and everything that has been impressed upon you so far........and you do it. You have to use your creativity. This is all you.

    The assignment is not to make an award winning film, it is to make a 5 to 8 minute event. It is likely just so that the instructor can see where everyone is at. Now......begin....


    Steve



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    Okay thanks. The biggest limitation is, is that for our stories we are only allowed 3 characters, and this is where it gets tricky, cause I have all sorts of ideas, but need supporting characters to make them work, even if they are just supporting characters that only have to be on screen for like 30 seconds to establish something.

    And we have to set it all in one location, which again, makes it very tricky, cause it causes limitations in where the story can go. I feel that the limitations, just make for a limited, compromised story, and it actually hurts the story, more than helps it.

    There is one thing though... Since I am only allowed 2-3 characters for my story, the characters are all keeping secrets from each other, but since they have no other supporting characters to talk to, how can I convey to the audience, what they are thinking?

    For random example, in Die Hard, John McClane talks to himself for a lot of the movie, so the audience can tell what he is thinking, since he has no one to talk to for a lot of it.

    I could do something like that, or I could write voice over narrations of their thoughts. But I don't want this to become cheesy, especially when you have two characters doing it and not just one. What do you think?

    Also when it comes to three act structure, everything we learn about the three act structure, applies to feature length scripts. Are there any books or any websites, that I could research, that talk about applying the three act structure to a 5-10 minute short film particularly, that would help?

    I also find that a lot of movies tell and not show, cause it just helps the plot along. So is that really so bad? Like for example, in the movie Buried (2010), the main character is trapped in a coffin for the whole movie, with a cell phone, and he explains on the cell phone how he was captured and how he was rendered unconscious.

    But they do not show any of this. It's just all explained. So is showing and not telling, really so bad, in some cases, like that, where one character explains to another what happened, instead of showing it?

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-09-2017 at 12:36 PM.

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    Restraints should make it easier. If you have three people: two friends and a love interest? Two people sitting down to dinner with a waiter? Three friends exploring the woods? The possibilities are endless. One location also helps. KEEP IT SIMPLE. You don't need background characters to tell a simple movie. "Gravity" the Oscar winning film relied primarily on two people.

    And about the narration, are you gunna be able to find examples of telling not showing? Absolutely. And in most cases, I personally consider that lazy writing. There are exceptions to every rule, (Star Wars, Shawshank Redemption, etc.) but as the adage goes you have to learn the rules before you can break them.

    I can't think of any off the top of my head, but basically you want a story involving a problem, the process of that problem being worked out, and a solution, normally with a twist at the end.

    -AF


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    Okay thanks. So if I have just one location though, how can I make it worth and show everything without telling? For example, one of my short film ideas is about a character who is framed for a murder. He is hiding out from the police in a location with another character, on the run with him possibly.

    However, he and the other character are going to have to talk to each other about the murder. Since I am limited to one location in this assignment, I cannot show what actually happened in the actual murder and the framing, since I am only limited to one location. So how can I show the reasons why the murder took place, and the framing for it, if I am only limited to one location exactly?

    I feel that one location is not keeping it simple, but rather more complicated, cause I have to find ways of telling the story now, without actually showing what actually happened.

    This idea also ends with the police coming to arrest them, but since I am only allowed 3 characters, I can only have one cop come to arrest them. But I need to explain why the cop would choose to arrest two dangerous murder suspects himself with no back up.

    The cop is also the one who framed them and he is doing this to get revenge on them, but why would the person who framed them not have back up with them? If anything the framer, is going to want to bring back up, to make it all look legit, so not so many suspicious questions are asked. So I cannot find a reason as to why he would be alone so far in making an arrest.

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-09-2017 at 01:56 PM.

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    A murder may be too complex a plot, remember THINK SMALL. But, just to go with that, maybe you could make the film a confrontation with a police officer? And the main character is hiding something related to the murder? We really are going to have to stop helping you with your film school assignments. You have to figure the story out on your own.

    -AF


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    Yeah okay. Basically my problem is, is that I find it hard to make a character go through a dramatic change without adding a lot of background to that motive. In order for a character to snap, or undergo some dramatic realization, it's hard to get them there if I am only allowed one location to support the whole development, if that makes sense.

    I just feel that a murder plot is complicated, if you make it complicated, and one location only makes it much more complicated.

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-09-2017 at 04:08 PM.

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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Steve Olander's Avatar
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    Can you think of no experiences in your life that happened between you and another person, or two, while spending 5 to 8 minutes in one spot? Surely you have been living your life. Surely you've experienced this many times. Surely you can also think of plenty of things that happen between people in this situation.

    Sit down, think, start writing. Think some more....and write that too. Less time here, more time creating.


    Steve


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    Well the teacher wants us to write the short film in a 3 act structure form, and I cannot think of any experiences, that happened in a 3 act structure form, with an actual climax and twist ending, if that is preferable. I tried adapting some of my experiences and adding a little fiction on it, but cannot find and experience of mine that works without it feeling forced or contrived...

    I mean maybe real life is not the best to go by maybe? When it comes to what we have learned in writing, one teacher said, don't use your own experiences in fiction, cause real life experiences, are not compelling or unique enough for good fiction, which is why we see so many based on true stories, with fiction added in. Is that true maybe? Only I cannot find a way to structure it in a 3 act structure way, without it being forced.


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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Steve Olander's Avatar
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    In every case except one, in this topic, you respond in about 30 minutes from every response to you. Sometimes only 10 minutes, and once in only 6 minutes. You are watching the internet too much instead of working.

    Yes, you add your own creativity to your actual experience to make it much more interesting. Yes, that is the reason for so many "Based on a True Story" films.

    You can either plan every nano-second of your project, and try to account for every possible scenario or aspect and achieve nothing while you worry about every possible element, or......you can write and make something. It is your choice. Again, you are not required to make an Academy Award Winning feature film.....just show that you know how to create and shoot 1 scene. You have big plans to make a feature film, but if you cannot do one scene you cannot even get out of the gate.

    I saw your short film. You have a good handle on things. Go do it.


    Steve


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    Okay thanks. I know I am not making an academy award winner, but at the same time, I also wanna write a story that is good enough to pass the class assignment though.


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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Steve Olander's Avatar
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    11 minutes and you responded.

    One short scene.


    Steve


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    Well for the film school assignment I wrote out a couple of rough drafts so far. The teacher said a big problem with my story is that the protagonist has no love interest. But my story is not the kind of story that I felt needed one. It is mainly a short suspense thriller script, and I didn't feel that a love interest was really needed to tell the story. I asked him if a love interest was needed since I have already have these other characters to tell the story.

    He said if that sure, a script doesn't have to have a love interest in, if you want it to be boring and bad. So I keep trying think of ways to insert one in, but I feel that having a interest doesn't do anything for the story, and would be just for the sake of having one, like it would be forced. Why does a story have to have one to not be boring? If I could figure out why I need a love interest to make a good suspense thriller story, then maybe I would know how to apply one.

    I asked him why does a good script need a love interest, and he says cause that's what audiences want. But at the same time, how do I apply one, when the plot has nothing to do with a love interest, in order to tell it?


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    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Well for the film school assignment I wrote out a couple of rough drafts so far. The teacher said a big problem with my story is that the protagonist has no love interest. But my story is not the kind of story that I felt needed one. It is mainly a short suspense thriller script, and I didn't feel that a love interest was really needed to tell the story. I asked him if a love interest was needed since I have already have these other characters to tell the story.

    He said if that sure, a script doesn't have to have a love interest in, if you want it to be boring and bad. So I keep trying think of ways to insert one in, but I feel that having a interest doesn't do anything for the story, and would be just for the sake of having one, like it would be forced. Why does a story have to have one to not be boring? If I could figure out why I need a love interest to make a good suspense thriller story, then maybe I would know how to apply one.

    I asked him why does a good script need a love interest, and he says cause that's what audiences want. But at the same time, how do I apply one, when the plot has nothing to do with a love interest, in order to tell it?
    Others may disagree with me, but I'm with you on this one. I think the professor's incorrect. A love interest can bring out a different side of the protagonist, and in many cases is what an audience wants. But, there are other ways to bring out sides of a character and I know of several great films with no love interest. My favorite short film is probably The Candidate (watch it if you haven't, it's great) and that has no love interest.

    In this particular case since I don't know the specifics of your story, it is possible that a love interest is necessary in your script. But, as a general rule, I would not say that one is required for a good script by any means.

    -AF


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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Steve Olander's Avatar
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    I would count this as red flag #1. I don't know what your script is, but I too do not see that a love interest needs to be in everything. Actually, there is no love interest in 3 scripts I've written (2 geared towards male audiences, 1 for both male and female).

    Not every event in everyone's life involves a love interest, and that is why I feel the Instructor is wrong. Again, not having read your script I don't know if one would amp things up or not, but to have one for the sake of having one is foolish.

    However, if that is what the Instructor wants then you may have to give it to him. That may be the curve he grades on. He may like a film someone does, but if there is no love interest it may not meet his perception of what makes a great film.


    Steve


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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    A love interest can give motivation to act.

    You think too big. You think in thrillers with murders and trials and stuff: procedures, methods and laws.
    You need to learn to think about people, motivations and actions instead.

    The 3 people assignment is a classic.
    Often combined with 1 or 3 locations only.
    Act 1: normal life and something happens.
    Act 2: main character acts/is forced to act
    Act 3: in a final effort the truth is revealed, a goal is accomplished, a prize is won.

    Think smaller.
    Think crazier.

    I wish I could show you 'Wien for life', an insane Belgian short:
    https://vimeo.com/112433135
    It's about a lottery ticket with a prize on it and everybody wants it.

    One of my friends made this 12 years ago:
    https://vimeo.com/6150427
    While not 3 characters and not really following 3 act structure, it shows how small ideas can be.

    What themes are you working with?

    PS.
    If your script would be great, he wouldn't miss a love interest.
    So apparently your script seems boring?
    (Sometimes there is subtext in comments.)

    Last edited by Walter B; 03-15-2017 at 02:13 PM.

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    Okay thanks. Well I feel that in my crime thriller script that is suppose to be 5-8 minutes, the procedure and method stuff takes up a lot of the time, since it can only be 5-8 minutes. I feel I either have time to make time for the people, or make time for the plot. But it's hard to cram both into one, and I already have three characters, and none of them are love interests to each other. So I do not have room to add a love interest, nor can I make any of the current three characters love interests to each other, without it coming off as forced.

    I feel in order to have time for the love interest the script has to be longer, with the allowing of more characters, or at least one (the love interest).

    What is more important, the people, or the procedure and methods? Cause I could concentrate on the people, but then I wouldn't have time for an ending, cause the procedure and legal methods take time to make the ending.

    I mean I don't want to write a thriller where the protagonist decides to kill the antagonist, because the script has no time for the protagonist to catch the antagonist, in a more proper, smarter way. Or should I just have the protagonist say, screw the law, and just kill him and have it be over, in order to make time for the character development?

    Also, the protagonist is not aware he is a very short film, and is not aware that he doesn't have time to come up with a more clever plan to catch the antagonist, so I don't want the protagonist to come off as too violently impulsive and stupid either, just so it will end.

    But also, I use to write scripts before where I would not concentrate on the procedures and legal methods and just concentrate on the people and readers often pointed out legal and procedural holes in the story, and that I need to make time for those parts, and get those parts.

    So if that is the case, then I am very limited to how time I have for the people in a 5-8 minute crime thriller.

    I am just having trouble coming up with a three act structure in only 5-8 pages. For example, in Act III, when the hero accomplishes his goal.

    So far the goal accomplishment is 3 pages long, since building a case against the villain takes a little bit of time at least so right there, that part of act III is three pages long so far. I am just not sure how to tell a 3 act structure in only 5-8 pages, and every book I have read talks about applying the three act structure to features and not shorts, so that's where it gets real tricky for me, is how to have a hero in a crime thriller, build a case against a villain in such a short amount of time, like only a page.

    I mean I can write it so I don't apply murders, trials, laws, procedures, but then it's just unrealistic and the hero catches the villain in a way that doesn't hold up at all, that will leave the viewers asking questions, won' t it?

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-15-2017 at 03:01 PM.

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    It may be too late now, but have you thought of writing in a different genre? I think it would be much easier for this particular assignment. Then you can focus on thinking smaller.

    -AF


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    Well I have but I haven't been able to come up with anything better in other genres. I am not the best writer, and have always loved thrillers the most when it comes to movies. I keep brainstorming ideas, for other genres, but haven't been able to know where to go with any of those ideas, in comparison to a thriller idea... possibly cause I studied thrillers a lot more over the years, compared to other genres.


  29. #29
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    People is what people care about.
    I'm saying you paint yourself in a corner with your genre pick, because it forces you to sacrifice emotion for regulations.

    What themes interest you?


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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    People is what people care about.
    I'm saying you paint yourself in a corner with your genre pick, because it forces you to sacrifice emotion for regulations.

    What themes interest you?


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    Well basically the themes that interest me is how far the villain will go to achieve his goal, and how far the hero will go to bring them down, even if it means hurting those around them. I have always been interested in movies with those themes the most.


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    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    My first short in school had a simple theme to start with: 'death'.
    After brainstorming we (as a team) visualized an poem about Death.

    Make your theme smaller: how far would someone go to win? (Which is in fact the purified theme from which both your hero and villain themes spring.)
    How far would someone go to be on time on his second date (he was late on his first date) while his boss wants him to work overtime?
    How far would someone go to cover up a mistake?


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    Okay thanks. I will try to think of something else, but if I cannot by the end of the week, I might just go with the police procedural idea. I will try to keep thinking... So far real life situations of people I know hasn't been very good, cause I don't know anyone who has been in a compelling situation to build a good ending off, that I can think of.

    I can post the script I have half written now, when I am done, as long as I manage to fit into 8 pages. When it comes to the inciting incident that motivated the protagonist, do you think it's okay if I set the story so that it starts out after the inciting incident has already happened? Because by doing it that way, I can save on page time, and not having more than three characters, which is part of the assignment as well.

    So do you think that is okay, structure wise, for a short film?

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-15-2017 at 10:04 PM.

  34. #34
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    The goal of the assignment is to learn to tell a story within those limitations.
    It is your assignment, but I think part of the challenge is to tell a complete story visually in that time.
    It is also a creative 'test'.

    Are you sure you can't imagine something without procedures?
    How do you brainstorm?
    Can you discribe your brainstorm proces?


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    Okay thanks for the input. Well in my brainstorming process, I will normally come up with an idea, and then do what I can to make it work for the lowest budget. But I feel if I were to choose just one location, or just three actors, then perhaps, that is too much sacrificing, to the point where the idea will not work. Even if I could just have three actors, every idea of mine, involves characters that have no logical reason to stick around in one location the entire time to tell a story.

    I mean I know a lot of the advice is to pick one location first, and then think of a story for that location. But every time I try doing that, every idea I come up with, cannot remain in that location the entire time, cause the characters do not have logical reasons to stay there.

    For example, on my current idea, I have a location where a person framed for murder, is hiding out from the police. But I was not able to show the actual murder and framing process, which makes the story feel like it has no beginning and just starts out right in the middle. The reason why I cannot actually show the murder and framing, is because the person being framed, has no reason to be in the same scene of the murder, he was framed for. He would logically not want to go to the scene of the crime he was framed for, so therefore, cannot show both, if I am to just have one location.

    I think the reason why I cannot think of a story, after picking just one location is because that's putting the cart before the horse, in a sense... When I came up with script ideas in the past, I would think of the idea first, and then the idea would determine how many locations were needed and what was needed. The more I try to force limitations on the idea, the more illogical the story becomes as a result. I just have to let the story develop naturally, without characters making forced decisions, to keep it all in place. Cause then the decision making of the characters just feels forced.

    One example is a script I was writing a while ago, that I wanted to be a courtroom thriller. But as I asked people on what they thought of the story, it was pointed out to be, that it was illogical, because the type of criminal case in the story would never make it to court... a prosecutor would not call witnesses, not knowing what they are going to say, only to have the witnesses make the prosecutor look like an idiot, they said. They said that also, the judge, would not let such unpredictable and sensitive information be heard in a trial, and a judge would go over all of this, in his chambers or in his office, and then decide if he would allow it to be heard in the courtroom.

    Basically I was trying to have surprises in the courtroom, when people were telling me, in a real courtroom, these types of surprises, would be flagged beforehand and not occur. So I decided to reset the location of the story in the judge's chambers instead. So I had an idea for a courtroom thriller, and it ended up turning into a 'judge's chambers thriller', if you will. The idea, is what determines the location. Not 'hey, let's take this idea, and try to illogically force into this other location'. Does that make sense?


  36. #36
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    Okay, you need to go back to square one.
    That is not really brainstorming. That is trying to produce your first idea.

    You need to schedule 2 hours where you will sit down with a few sheets of blank paper.
    No internet, no phone, no chores.

    Write down in the middle:

    "how far would someone go to win?"

    Draw a circle around 'win'. Write words around 'win' that you associate with winning.
    For example: 'lose' or 'prize'
    Connect those words with a line to 'win'.
    When you have several words, you do the same with those words. Like: 'prize' what prizes can you win? Medals, but also love, reputation, money...

    Go on and on.
    To the same with 'how far' (a boundery) : think of different bounderies that can be crosses. Murder is one. Cheating can be one or stealing.

    In the end you will have different words you might not have thought about before. Try to connect a few of these words and you have a start to create a story from scratch. Instead of being stuck in thriller cliches you can't really realise in 5 to 8 minutes.

    And watch this:

    It won't tell what to do, but it might tell you how to create the circumstances to be creative.

    Last edited by Walter B; 03-22-2017 at 09:18 AM.

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    Instead of picking an idea and then trying to fit it into the confines of what you can make, make something that relies on your constraints.

    I like to sometimes list the resources I have available to me, and that might help you. Any locations you can easily use that look good? How about people who can act in it, or come up with more characters? Now think of a way (like what Walter said) someone could win in the location.

    Use your constraints to build your story.

    -AF


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    Okay thanks, I am going to try coming up with words in a paper now.

    As for locations and constraints, I just haven't found any locations that are giving me any ideas, or at least none that I think are good. Like I will come up with potential ideas, but then I fail to do anything interesting with him, within the confines of that locations. I just feel I have too many constraints to come up with good ideas, cause I feel like they are limiting my creativity too much. My professor at school says that it's being able to work in one location for a whole script that pros from the amateurs, but at the same time, why would a pro choose one location, if letting the idea branch out into another makes more sense for the story? At least that is how I see it.

    But I will keep trying with one location, and just a few characters. It's also part of the assignment to come up with a script that is so deep that it touches peoples lives, and to do that in 8 minutes or less feels even harder, compared to coming up with something more entertaining, but not so life touching in comparison.

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-16-2017 at 09:53 PM.

  39. #39
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    One location is a way to force you to use your creativity.
    I'm not telling to try to just write words on paper, I'm telling you to brainstorm through free association to come up with new ideas instead of the 2 you have been working on for the past few years.

    You ask why a pro would choose one location if using more would be better for the story.
    You clearly don't understand the challenge presented to you: a pro would create a story that fits in one location when faced with this challenge. An amateur would whine about it and claim it is impossible. But it is not impossible, it is only impossible, because your idea isn't fitting the assignment.

    I believe I showed you this video before. Did you even bother to watch?
    Okay, it has more than 3 characters, but it is all in one room and it moves me.
    https://vimeo.com/159449591

    I'm not sure why you still hang on to a short with lots of intro text and procedures while the assignment is focused on keeping it small and emotional.
    It almost seems like you don't understand the challenge given to you.


  40. #40
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    The emotionally touching part of the assignment place the love interest remark in a new daylight.
    Love is pretty universal, so is loss, relief and happyness when they are connected to love. A love interest (I don't think it has to be romantic, I think it can be love for family as well) is probably the easiest way to move your audience.

    You did it AGAIN:
    asking a question while leaving out more than half of the information.
    You first post only mentions 5-8 minutes.
    You didn't bother to tell us that:
    - it has to be 1 location
    - you have to use 3 characters only
    - you have to try to move the audience emotionally

    Imagine you would have mentioned all that in your first post: you would have gotten better replies.
    (No offence guys: you give good advice to the presented question, but incomplete questions lead to inaccurate advice.)

    In this thread I offered you 4 links to watch. Did you watch any of them?
    If yes: what do you think you can learn from them?


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    I watched the John Cleese video, it was very insightful. When it comes to solving problems in my stories though, the way I would go about it before, is a lot of times, I would have to add more characters, in order to bridge plot points. A new character might be needed to deliver information from one character to another, without key characters knowing which character that the information is coming from for example. Or a lot of times I would have to add a new location to solve plot problems.

    So I feel that my usual solutions to plot problems, are not working here, cause the limitations are causing my ideas not to come to full logic. I agree with what John Cleese said that sometimes, all you have to do is go to sleep, and the next day, the problem will be solved, but in this case, a lot of solutions that I would normally have available, I am not allowed to use, so that makes it tricky.

    I couldn't watch the Danny DeVito short film cause it's not available where I live. I tried looking for it on other sites, but couldn't find a full copy so far. I can keep looking.

    Sorry about not mentioning everything in the first post. I need to work on that.


  42. #42
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    In other words: you need a different idea.
    You can't put the whole Star Wars saga in 1 room with 3 characters either and expect it to have to same inpact in just 5 minutes either.
    Let go of your crime thriller.

    BTW, I posted 4 links. Not just 2.

    About John Cleese: it is easy to agree on sleeping over it. But more important is to apply the time, time, space, humor advice to actually get a new idea.
    Did you already sit down for 2 hours to brainstorm?


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    Okay then, thanks. Well I watched the vacuum short film and although it's a very simple idea, it doesn't really have much character development where as I need to come up with a story, where a character goes through a full development into a new person by the end. That was the challenge as I did not have enough time to develop the character in such a short amount of time.

    Plus I have to develop the antagonist as well, and that's two characters, perhaps even a third, that I would have to develop, otherwise I just have a wooden antagonist, who doesn't go through any changes.

    I also watched the other video, but I couldn't make sense of what was going on cause of how it was cut. It was mainly several shots of characters saying things, since it was a trailer, but I didn't know what they were talking about.

    I also brainstorms for several hours yesterday, and some the day before. Mainly I will come up with ideas, with words on paper like you said. But I keep running into road blocks on where to go with them, cause I cannot find a way to make any of them work so far with just three characters and one location. I will keep looking for ideas, just haven't found one that worked yet, without hitting dead ends, cause of the limitations.


  44. #44
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    So what ideas did you get?


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    1. A man tries to free a prostitute from her pimp, with dire consequences.

    2. A man spends the night with a woman and finds out she is a serial killer.

    I came up with those two so far, but couldn't end them in 8 pages, with few characters and one location. I'll keep trying...


  46. #46
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    What?
    You need more pages for number 2?
    Why?

    Think about what signs and things can give him the idea that she is a serial killer?
    Or are you trying to fit your whole script into that idea again instead of thinking of something new?


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    Yes I need more pages than 2. It has to be 5-8 pages. I have thought about what signs can give the idea that she is a killer. That is not the problem.

    The problem is keeping the characters in one location, and trying to come up with a second and third act in such a short amount of time. And ending to build up to in that short amount of time. That is the problems I have been ending, is that the short amount of pages, is creating roadblocks for me to reach potential endings.


  48. #48
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    ..........I have thought about what signs can give the idea that she is a killer. That is not the problem.

    The problem is keeping the characters in one location, and trying to come up with a second and third act in such a short amount of time. And ending to build up to in that short amount of time. That is the problems I have been ending, is that the short amount of pages, is creating roadblocks for me to reach potential endings.
    Well, apparently the signs are a problem if you can't keep them in one location.

    You can keep it in one hotel room.
    A couple, both masked since they went to a masked ball enter the room.
    (During the short you must make it clear they are strangers.)
    Some wild (but safe) sex. Woman ties man down, doesn't untie him.
    He wakes up. She is gone (for breakfast?).
    At first he smiles looking back at last night.
    He tries to free himself but he fails. He can look around a sees a few things that worry him.
    Slowly it becomes apparent something is wrong.
    Add a tv report on a murdered man in another hotel: tied down to the bed.
    She returns with breakfast and feeds him. He wants to escape.
    (You decide whether he lives or not.
    Or even worse: she is not the killer. TWIST!)
    He is really afraid of her. His hands are still tied.
    She wants to give head and he strangles her with his legs and breaks her neck.
    He is relieved he didn't get killed. He starts to scream for help.
    After a while his voice his gone.
    TV shows breaking news: the hotel murderer has been arrested: the dead woman on his bed is innocent.

    (All in 1 room, a little creative cheat with the TV reports.)

    I do want credit for the story :-p
    (And I may make it myself one day)

    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    1. A man tries to free a prostitute from her pimp, with dire consequences.

    2. A man spends the night with a woman and finds out she is a serial killer.

    I came up with those two so far, but couldn't end them in 8 pages, with few characters and one location. I'll keep trying...
    Quote Originally Posted by Walter B View Post
    What?
    You need more pages for number 2?
    Why?
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Yes I need more pages than 2. It has to be 5-8 pages.....
    This reply explains a lot ;-)


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    Okay thanks, that is interesting. I could go with something like that. I don't know if I should go with the ending that she is innocent maybe. I mean the whole villain not turning out to be villain in the end, has become a bit of a cliche recently I find. However, it be able to work here. I could try something like that maybe. Thanks.

    This reply explains a lot ;-)
    Yeah I thought I posted in the OP that it has to be at least 5 minutes. I meant 5 pages by that as well :).

    The thing is though, is that the professor's instructions were to have a protagonist that goes through a huge character change and learns a lesson. Does he go through much of a character change, or I am worried it might not quite meet the criteria of the assignment. I mean he learns he killed the wrong person, but that is just incidental, and not really a thematic change, on how he sees life though, is it?

    Like the professor tells us to explore a deep theme, but is 'don't accidentally kill a potentially innocent person, even if they tied you up all night and you want to escape', really a deep theme? If so, great, I am just worried it might not be for the assignment.

    Last edited by ironpony; 03-20-2017 at 04:27 PM.

  50. #50
    Senior Member   Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Any thoughts on how to write a short film story that can be wrapped up in 8 minutes? Walter B's Avatar
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    I'm just showing you other ways to look.
    You say you need more characters and locations for idea 2.
    I showed you you can embrace the 1 location if you try to find a reason why it happens in 1 location.
    Is it a deep and profound story? No.
    Can it be moving: yes.
    Does the character change? I don't know, but he goes pretty far to safe himself.
    Does it have a beginning, middle and end? Yes.

    Your story idea and 15 minutes is what I needed to write that story down.
    When you are brainstorming you must leave all fear behind you and explore the crazy ideas withour rejecting them for practical reasons. That is something you may have to do later, but during brainstorming everything is possible.


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