Sunday, September 19, 2010

I think short films has grabbed its due respect these days, not just as ‘calling cards’ as it used to be. Though many are produced from Film School backgrounds, the influence and popularity of YouTube has induced many aspiring film makers think prospectively about shorts; and independent low-budget or no-budget shorts are increasingly being made. Another emerging trend I find is TV channels promoting short films (approx 11 and 22 minutes). Short film festivals call for many rewards I this film making segment.

Recently when ScreenWrite.In participants attended a seminar organized by Goethe- Institut Max Muller Bhavan, on ‘Locating South India Cinema in an International Context’, 24/25 August 2010, I remember Ms. Dorothy Werner of the Berlin Film Festival suggesting how German film industry still see short as a director’s medium, a ‘calling card’ demonstrating their abilities to go on to make their first feature.

The whole idea of why I write about this topic comes from my recent involvement with novice writers both at LV Prasad Film and TV Academy and my own ScreenWrite.In, who venture into writing shorts; and probably sharing my thoughts may help them with some little thing or the other in their writing endeavor.

My strong belief from experience is writing for shorter duration movies is more difficult than for longer drama. The writer needs a new outlook to consider the shorter time at disposal (normally shorts span from 5 minutes to 30 minutes). The cleverness with picture-making is more demanding in short-film screenwriting when compared to long feature.

For the same reason the rules and systematic approach (if I may call them so) of screenwriting are of greater significance for shorts. You have approximately five to thirty pages and needs the craft for the same intensity of story telling like any other longer forms; here the brevity and prudence in structure and expression are everything. The imperative is to place the character immediately into the thick of drama, move along a specific incident of his/her life which provokes the viewer to imagine a more elaborate world of the character.

The ideas and its expression have to fit into space of time disposable. A longer story cannot forcibly be compressed to fit the allotted time or a sketch idea artificially stretched. Nor is it a promo for some future envisaged feature – a good tactic if can pull it off (this line perhaps is for Ekta, LVP-FTA).

Last but not the least, for a short the emotion is more precise, and therefore more intense. As a screenwriter, the emotion building is of very high importance as the duration is short. The emotion provoked with a couple of scenes in a longer drama has to meet the target with just a shot or so in the short; that’s the difference, as also the craft required.

Please find a couple of shorts to watch. Would like to get your opinion on these as to the emotion and structure:


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