Narrative Exercises – 1st assignment, Video Production II

DUE WEDNESDAY: Full Storyboard and Treatment; if appropriate, also Voiceover Script or Dialog. With your partner or crew, complete a pre-production checklist (scroll down for more info)

You know how to use the storyboard and have the form. More forms can be downloaded here:

The Treatment is simply a paragraph (or two) describing your short film from start to end. Your first paragraph, about the CONTENT / THEME, should tell us this:

  1. Title
  2. Synopsis (summary)–what is it about? Mention genre, characters, and locationFor example: “________ is a fast-paced action film with two characters that takes place in an empty field.”
  3. Walk us through what happens in the beginning, middle and end. How does it start? What happens next? How does it end?
  4. Possibly a concluding sentence about theme: What is this film about under the surface? A relationship? Trust? Deception? Memory? Hope?

Your second paragraph should tell us this:

  1. What is the visual style of the film (shots, editing, effects), and how does that enhance (add to) the story?
  2. What is the sountrack of the film (ambiance, music, etc), and how does that effect of the film?

The-Grandmaster-US-Trailer-2  Directions: For your first assignment, we will build on the movie storytelling ideas and techniques (camera, soundtrack, editing) that we have been thinking about while watching and analyzing short movies and movie clips.

  1. Choose a partner or crew (3 students max)
  2. Decide who will play what role on the shoot (camera, sound, director). Do not act in your production!
  3. Pick from one of three options for your first assignment.
  4. Write a script AND a storyboard
  5. Pre-produce: Scout out locations (can be in or near the school, to be shot during class time) or outside of school (to be shot after school or on the weekend).
  6. Make a 2-3 minute short film.
  7. All students in the crew, regardless of your role on set (while shooting), will do their own edit. Edits can and should be very different!
  8. Each film should have music–but music needs to have a clear start and end point (it should help structure the film–but this is NOT a music video!)
  9. Each film should have titles and credits.
  10. We will screen all edits and compare.


  • Non violent. No guns or fight scenes.
  • No drugs or other criminal activity.
  • No nudity.

IDEA 1: Voiceover Write a voiceover narration. Write the voiceover first. Then storyboard. Should express your character’s (and perhaps your) point of view on the world. OR: Write from a dog’s or cat’s point of view. Action should be happening as the voiceover is read. Couple with images the person sees of the world (can be shot, stolen; can be POV or shot of the character doing something, or both; can be writing while they talk) IDEA 2: Action Scene Shots: All about the close ups – 1/2 shots need to be close ups or extreme close ups. Also about movement and style: the other half of your shots should move or be framed dramatically (if static), to keep us on the edge of our seats. This is a good camera test for DSLR’s. Simple story structure: One or two characters. An event occurs to start the chase. Non-violent. A mistake (like a switch up), a realization (ie “I’m late,” a theft occurs, character forgot something). There should be a clear resolution to end the action sequence. A twist? Location (where the chase starts and ends) is important. IDEA 3: Dialog Scene with Few Words (IE “The Staring Contest”) Two characters. One reacts to the other while they speak or do something else. They can just stare at each other! When to cut? Think about whether you focus on the character speaking or on the reactions of the other character. Within this basic cinematic structure there are A LOT of possibilities. Could be a stand-off–like a card game, chess game. Or, it could be a “who goes first”–ie the phone rings. Who will pick it up? Or, interpersonal–girl asking a guy out for the prom. Super awkward. Who speaks first? gustave

Pre-Production Checklist

Make a list of things you need to start making your short film. This will be both your “shopping list” of items/locations/equipment needed and your “plan” for when and how to shoot your film.

  1. What props and costumes do you need for your film?
  2. How many actors? (list the roles, and who will play them)
  3. What are the locations? (type of location and where specifically you might film)
  4. What equipment do you need / will you shoot and record on?
  5. When will you shoot your film? (Create a simple schedule—list the days, times, and which parts of your film you will be shooting….you can refer to parts of your storyboard by page number or shot number, by location)
  6. List your crew: who will do what while pre-producing and producing (shooting) your short film?
  7. Are there additional sounds you need to record for your short film (ambiance, voiceover)