How To Write A Great Short Film Script

SENIOR COPYWRITER AND FILM DIRECTOR. I help company owners humanise their brands by telling authentic, immersive stories that inspire, entertain and educate us.
How To Write A Great Short Film Script

When I published my Kindle How To Write A Great Short Film Script, I was surprised to see how many books or guides on the subject of short films were set at a price that would make most short filmmakers laugh and tell you they’d prefer to spend the money on grub for their unpaid film crew.

So I pitched my book a short film budget sorta price – $2.99.  Price of some French fries, but a whole lot more nutritious.


Let me seize just one topic I discuss in the book… What is so often missing in a short film is what I call resonance. A good – or great – short should have resonance.

So what do I mean by that? Well, because it’s short it has to punch above its own weight, so to speak, and that means creating in us a sense of a bigger story lying just behind the smaller one.

Another way of saying that is the great short film should tap into something primal within us and make us pause and reflect on a certain aspect of our lives. It must have successfully raised a significant ‘What if’ in our hearts and minds that takes us, however briefly, on a journey beyond the duration of the short.

And, of course, this is difficult to do in just a few minutes. The trick is to be as single-minded as possible as you set out, and maintain a tight focus on your main theme before you explore, or include other themes or sub-themes.


Most writers I come across, when asked, ‘What’s it about?’ give me a blow by blow of the events in their story. No, wrong answer. I’m falling asleep already. 

What’s your story about? asks, What’s your idea, what emotion or experience are you trying to comment upon? What drove you to write this? I mean, hell, you’re not getting paid, are you, unless you win a big competition, and even then the prize money is only going to cover the insurance on your kit or something, so, what’s your passion about? What drives you? Get in the habit of selling your theme to your peers (those that will listen) and you’ll quickly see from their reactions how well your idea holds up.

A series of funny or unfortunate events doesn’t necessarily make a story. You have to dig deeper and ask what it is about life that you are seeking to open up and explore.

With a few examples to illustrate my analysis, that’s what I do in How To Write A Great Short Film Script. I started out writing it as a guide for my daughter, a young writer/director, never meaning to turn it into a kindle. But then I thought, hey maybe others would value being in on this ‘seminar’ too.

In all honesty, if I’d read this little book when I was starting out, my learning curve would have been a lot quicker. I hope it helps you too.