03 May, 2007

Shorts project - Idea

Potsy was told "you can knock up a first draft of a ten minute short film script in five hours, easy." She is challenging herself to do that and others have joined in. Including me. I intend writing it on Sunday and using the time beforehand to plan it.

So now I'm committed (or should be committed more like) what do I need to do? Well, I haven't thought about writing shorts for ages so I need to briefly familiarise myself with the format.

I actually wrote a section on short films for my website and while my own introduction is piss-poor, the Screen East guide to writing shorts is useful.

I now need a shorts idea. As we go through life we will get ideas for stories and the problem is working out which ideas are suitable for whatever particular format. Some may be specifically for shorts, serials or series.

What I could do is go to my notebooks and choose a short film idea from all the ones I've noted down over the years but I think it would be best for this project to think of something new from scratch. Mainly because I haven't got any bloody notebooks.

I know it's a good idea to carry a notebook around and write in it regularly but I've just not got into the habit. Actually I believed that if an idea was good I would remember it, which is clearly daft. But this weekend I'm going into some cheapo stationers and getting some and getting into the habit of writing all my ideas and thoughts down on a daily basis. You might end up not using much of it but it's a good discipline to get into for any pre-professional writer.

So how the hell am I going to get an idea? Firstly I have to be clear about what it is I want to do. I'm inclined to do something light and comedic.

There was a script call recently that contained this:

"OK, here's the thing, a few years ago I put out a similar cry for help. I got hundreds of scripts, and I read them all! So right off the bat I'm going to say your script must be feasible! Again, I'm sorry, I have to say it... Feasible! As in, a few locations, i.e. apartments, a park, a street, etc... Not a bank, a factory, Starbucks, a large business office etc... A few characters. Not a stadium scene or a hospital etc... No crazy special effects. A guy hangs himself, ok maaaaybe. A guy pulls out a gun and shoots up his neighbours car, no. Finally, how about something fun? Romantic comedy sounds good! Dead, raped teenage girl does not!

Oh, and all around 10-15 minutes sounds great! Anything more, and it becomes something bigger than we want. Plus, by minute 12, it's usually dragging!"

I can write what the hell I want but I like those parameters as they make sense. I would like my script to be bought and made and so I'm aiming for less arty and depressing and more entertaining and fun.

I still need an idea and nothing is springing to mind. Spring you bastards, spring! Hold on a minute... I blogged about a TV commercial , a while back, that intrigued me because there were lots of story possibilities and it showed that you can be inspired by ideas from anywhere. Maybe I could get an idea from that? These are the images:

  • A man photocopying

  • A man waking up in what looks like an hotel room

  • A man dropping a card on the floor

  • A woman taking a shower with her dress on

  • A woman angry at a dude

  • A man dressed in an animal costume in the back seat of a car parked on a grass verge

  • A car being followed by a helicopter

  • A man taking off a long blonde wig

  • A late night goods transaction at a container at the docks

  • A woman in a canteen while a man sweeps up behind her

  • A woman using her car's headlights to search for something in the woods

  • Hotel keys

  • A woman photographer taking pictures of nude or semi-nude women

  • A woman watching a parade

Now I should be able to come up with something from that. I need to choose a main character from that list, find out a bit more about them and then try and think of a story.


Lianne said...

I love the image of the woman showering fully clothed.

Good luck with the script Robin! A short script in 5 hours is much more sensible than a feature screenplay in 2 weeks. Remember that debacle? ;-)

potdoll said...

thanks for that screen east page - really good and has set me up for the challenge!

good luck to us all!

Robin Kelly said...


Yes, I must try and work that image in somehow.

Actually, I had managed to wipe that debacle completely from my mind, thanks for reminding me! ;-)


It is very good, although I got some bother from Screen East for putting it up. I said, "I'm Screen West Midlands, you can't touch me, up yours!"

Lianne said...

Screenonline have a guide to writing short films.It's
written by Phil Parker.

Robin Kelly said...

Nice link (although there's a rogue slash at the end). I'm also finding this site useful.

Lianne said...

A rogue slash! The horror!

Bookmarked the other link to read later. You shouldn't be replying to comments anyway Robin, you should be hard at work! Says the woman who had 're-write 5 minute script' on her agenda today and has re-written one page of it so far....