Make your movie in 48 hours




Inciting Incident

You've signed up for the 48FILM Short Film competition. Now the big question facing your team is, "What story shall we tell?" This is a challenge, because you must include the three elements thrown at you when you set the clock ticking, and you only have 48 hours.

shoot from your heart

Short Film Contest Inspiration.

Where to find inspiration? Your team, social media, your local area, or maybe you've had something in the back pocket for a while that you're just dying to get out there. The three elements can inspire, too. Start by brainstorming with your crew and actors. Group dynamics and sheer enthusiasm will throw up ideas. Find out what their special talents are. Comedic? Dramatic? Action skills? They could bring something extra to your concept.

For Love Or Money?

Should you follow a trend – yes or no? In a short film you can do this, because turnaround time is fast. A feature film script takes weeks or months to develop because the filmmakers must discover the characters and uncover the themes. It's a painful process, so often the trend has run its course by the time your script is ready. Alternatively, a short must pack a lot in to the available time frame, and this is also a challenge. But how should you prioritize? Where should you start?

Start With The Heart

Feature or short, it's a good idea to start with emotion or theme. Your story will deliver a bigger punch. Emotion is the prime driver of human actions, and it will drive your story too. This means starting with your characters. Start with the want. What does your main character want? It could be to hide a body, get a haircut, travel to a destination, take a dog for a walk, and steal something. Keep it simple. Simple wants can give big dramatic or comedic moments, but you'll discover what a powerful driver of your story this want becomes, driven by the desire of your main character(s) to achieve it. It doesn't matter what genre your film.

Learn From The Best

Watch commercial advertisements and see what makes them work. They often tell a mini-story in which the product is embedded. Often these stories have heart, which the audience remembers, and they associate the product with it. Most top brand names use this kind of advertising now. The competition for eyeballs is fiercer than ever, and professionals are under pressure to keep raising their game. New entrants to the game can learn much from studying how they do it.

The emotional factor helps to avoid producing a trite piece. You don't want your audience left wondering what it was all about, or may be you do, but that's a different topic.

The best result is when your audience walks away feeling something, or remembering a key theme.

Shoot From The Hip

The 4-to-7 minute short film is ideal for comedy, because you can deliver a punch line. Check out some examples from the old days of silent movies – Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy. How much can you say without dialogue? A message delivered visually is always more powerful.

Planning is great but stay open to the surprise moments. Shoot from the hip, off the cuff, on the run. Sometimes those purely spontaneous moments work brilliantly and add the twists and turns.


Ready to sign up to 48 Film Project's contest 2017? Spend some time in the screening room and look at previous winners. Ask yourself these questions.

What did I take away from this story?

Did it move me, give me an insight, or make me laugh?

Maybe it was pure entertainment. That's good enough too. Whatever, there needs to be a point to your story.

Wrapping Up

Probably your budget is tight for your short film production. You're unlikely to be looking to make a mini-version of Fury Road. Start with emotion. It only costs you your heart. And that's for free, so go for it. Be generous.

Think about how you want your audience to feel after watching it. What experience do you want to deliver? How you stir the emotions of your viewer is what makes your film memorable.

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