Short Film Assignment

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Produce, Direct, Shoot and Edit a 4 – 7 minute fiction (narrative) short film with at least one character and location. Your film should combine at least two of these elements of cinematic storytelling:

  • Action – The movement of the character (s) flows from one shot into the next. Fast editing and a variety of angles and camera movements establish the pace of the sequence. A mix of close up shots keep the audience close to the action, while wide shots establish location.
  • Dialog – Cut from one character to the next as they talk and react. This “shot – reaction shot” editing can be used to show one person looking intently at an object as well (i.e. staring at a donut they desire)
  • Cross-Cutting – Two stories are occurring at the same time in different places. Cut between them.
  • Flashback – A character in the present flashes back to something in the past. It can be just a few shots or glimpses, or a full scene. Another version of this is a “flash forward,” which could be a character daydreaming about what could be.
  • Voiceover Narration – We see the world from a characters point of view and hear their “inner monologue” as they comment on the world or tell their story. They can be commenting on what is happening right then, or their past. They are speaking directly to the audience. Or, the Narrator can be omniscient and anonymous – a commentator taking us through the story.

Locations: You can shoot this assignment on campus, or take a camera for the weekend and shoot it off campus.

Actors: Your actors can be students in our class or students from outside the class.

STEPS

To produce  your film, do the following: 

  1. Get together with one or two other students in the class to form a crew.
  2. Brainstorm ideas.
  3. Type a one paragraph “summary” or “synopsis.”
  4. Type a “step outline.” This is just a numbered list of what happens in your film. Be as detailed as possible–don’t leave out any plot points.
  5. Draw a storyboard. It should contain every shot you can think of. (Scroll down to the “Action Sequence” assignment below for the storyboard form. You can print and use this form.)
  6. Give your film a title.
  7. Type a “Pre-Production Packet” that contains:
    1. The pieces you’ve already completed–your summary, step outline, and storyboard.
    2. A crew list. You are strongly advised to share contact information with your fellow crew members so you can communicate about this project outside of class.
    3. A list of main characters, with a one-sentance description of each. (it may be just one character). Who will you cast in these roles?
    4. A list of locations. Where are you shooting?
    5. A list of props (items) and costumes you will need for  your film.
    6. A list of equipment you will need to shoot your movie.
    7. A production schedule. Do you plan to shoot in class? What days? Outside of class? How long will it take? Look at a calendar with your crew to come up with a shooting schedule. Refer to my Calendar for Video Production I on this website to see the Short Film deadlines.
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