Avoiding Novice Short Film Mistakes


After a while of recording yourself on travel expeditions, making random content for YouTube or simply studying some of the great filmmakers from history, you might wish to try your hand at a short film. It’s a noble goal, and something you will realize is vastly complex. However, if you manage to put your ideas to the screen, you will forever have something you can be proud of. After all, how will you know if you have any talent at this whatsoever if  you don’t give it a try? You might have experience in writing, photography or another discipline, and wish to see how it translates. It’s not uncommon for well-made short films to gain plenty of viewership on sites like Vimeo, so don’t shoot your dreams down just yet.

But don’t rush into things either. It’s essential to avoid novice short film mistakes to avoid a potential viewer from switching it off immediately. Hey, if you submit the final product to a festival, and if it’s of good quality, you never know where things might go. Consider:

The Importance Of Storyboarding

Storyboarding is essential, especially when trying to visualize how to bring your script to paper. You might have many ideas in your head regarding how the film should look and how you imagined certain scenes, but without that actually put to paper, without certain shots being understood and how you’ll relate this visually to an audience, you will have trouble making the film look good at all. A good rule of thumb is to present the story in images that could be understood even with the sound and exposition-led dialogue muted. The pictures should tell a story, as this helps your picture stand out without all the added effects.

The Importance Of Sound

Sound is essential, and most newbie filmmakers forget to consider that. Gain good audio on sight, preferably with the use of a boom mic overhead. Consider how movement, sound, costume and props play into diegetic sound and non-diegetic sound, diegetic sound meaning sound captured on set vs. that placed in the final edit. Also, sign yourself up to a professional sound effects library, or purchase the items that you want. Applied correctly, this can help your film take on an extra level of legitimacy provided the effects match up with the screen presence.

Everything Is In The Script

The script is everything. Even in abstract art films, you must have a cohesive understanding of the story you’re trying to tell, the reasons for putting something on screen. Refine it. Have people read it. Re-read it yourself. Try to understand the themes, the through lines, and how it will resolve. Commit to a small three act structure if you’re stuck. Also be aware of ‘Chekhov’s Gun.’ This is the rule that states if you show a gun clearly, it must be fired before the story is out. This rule helps eliminate fluff, and helps keep your story direct and focused.

With these tips, you’re sure to avoid novice short film mistakes.