The Basics of Directing a Short Film


Whether you are in film school or just an avid film fan looking to make a mark on the world of cinema, you should understand certain basics and fundamental aspects about directing a short film. These may not always be true for more established and advanced filmmakers, who can ride on their name and break the rules more easily. But for a filmmaker just starting out, you should at least consider some of these things as you move forward to create a short film that will show others what you can do and make them want to see your vision fully unleashed on a larger production.

One thing you should remember is that even though this is a short film, even if it is only two minutes long, you should still capture the attention of the audience as quickly as possible. Feature films of an hour and a half or two hours in length will typically try to capture the audience’s attention within the first seven to ten minutes. If you watch movies with this in mind you will see it happen, there is some kind of punch, event, or dramatic device used to grab the audience and never let them go.

Even though this in many ways can rely on a good screenplay to achieve, while directing a short film you should understand that the visuals should be just as arresting as the story itself. You may not be able to rely on big effects or similar features to grab your audience, but you should still make them want to see what will happen. Once you have their attention, then you need to keep it through dynamic camera work that not only serves the scene, but also keeps our eyes engaged. If you are a new director looking to make a name for yourself, then this is especially important since you want producers to see your vision.

Your short film should make your audience want to see more of the world through the lens of your camera. While ridiculous camera angles may distract from a film, you should try to find ways to make your film look interesting and make us see the world differently. Find the emotional content within a scene and understand what is happening within characters or around them, then use the camera and lighting to create a world that reflects that. While directing a short film you should make every shot count, since you can more effectively control ever shot in a smaller production you should make sure every frame represents your best work.

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