Understanding the Underlying Principles of the Short Film

Michael Sergi, Craig Batty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter explores the types of story possible within short films, and how often there can be confusion and uncertainty, particularly amongst student filmmakers, about what a short film really is. In order to better understand what a short film is, this chapter outlines a series of underlying principles about short film story design that, we argue, are integral to the initial stages of conceiving a short film. Before script development takes place, we argue that realistic thinking about what the short film can deliver in terms of story, characters, scope and dramatic question, will result in a screen work that is not only feasible to produce for student filmmakers, but is also more likely to increase an audience’s emotional engagement with the film. Drawing on a range of multi-award winning contemporary short films to illustrate these principles, we discuss the relationship between content and form in the short film, leading to a better understanding of the parameters in which a student filmmaker might work. While not arguing that these parameters are strict and unbreakable, we argue that knowing what has worked well for others, and what audiences expect from the short film form, provides a solid basis from which to begin conceptualising a short film.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production
EditorsCraig Batty, Marsha Berry, Kath Dooley, Bettina Frankham, Susan Kerrigan
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-21744-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-21743-3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2019


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