Posted by: michellemuldoon | September 22, 2010

Meet My Shorts

I promised it, and here it is, your short screenplay post. So, let’s cut the chitchat and get right to it. I’m recently a convert to the joy of writing short screenplays.  For the longest time I didn’t see the point of short screenplays unless you were going to make it yourself. (I know, judgemental, but I’m so focused on the dream of making a feature, that it gave me tunnel vision.)  But recently, I’ve found great joy in writing a short screenplay, and there are very real reasons why. I should probably make it clear, my longest short screenplay was thirteen pages and I filmed it. Otherwise, everything I’ve written has been under seven pages.

I know I’ve already mentioned I like to write short screenplays when I’m blocked. Finishing something gives me a sense of accomplishment while I’m being bogged down by the stress of not being able to finish a feature.

There’s an advantage to working on shorter shorts. The shorter the short, the more it resembles, and becomes great practice for, crafting tight scenes. A great short screenplay resembles a great scene. Both have beginning, middle and ends, and they need to be tight, with a great button and a strong point of view. A short screenplay just might be the best scene writing exercise you could ask for.

I like to write short scripts with limited locations and a few characters. If I need inspiration, I might look to things like the headlines in the paper, or nighttime news reports to find my location and theme. I then try to think of the people who might be involved or might have experienced whatever is in the news.

For instance, Chesley Sullenberger is a hero for landing an American Airlines plane on the Hudson River in New York.  Why not write a story about the person in the seat farthest from the emergency exit. What must it have been like to be last off the plane? What in their life might have brought them to the point of being on the plane; a broken heart, a job they hate, a fear of bedbugs? Just saying, there’s a story in every headline and it isn’t the one that we read about most often.

Advertisements and commercials are great inspiration. Why not write a story about the people behind the two people driving in the VW with an armchair in the trunk. What if they’re in a rush, can’t see past the armchair to change lanes, and end up in an accident. Take an iconic image and craft a story around someone affected by it. The possibilities are out there, right beyond the tip of your nose.

A short script is a writing exercise waiting to happen. Go on, take a chance, and flex those creative “noggin” muscles.  The more you create, the easier it is to create.  Isn’t that what it’s all about? 

Gotta wrap up this blog. I’ve got a feature to write.

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