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THE CONVENTIONS OF A SHORT FILM

In the context of our Short Film, Plain Sailing.


SHORT RUN TIME
COMPARISON SHORT FILM
➤ A short film is any film that
doesn’t have a feature length
run time, which is said to start
around the forty minute mark.
➤ In order to meet the brief we
had to create a short film of 5
minutes in length, meaning
we applied this convention to
our own film. Comparable
short films such as ‘ANDY’
also have a run time of under
40 minutes.
LOW BUDGET
COMPARISON SHORT FILM
➤ As short films are usually a more niche
product produced by no-name directors,
they don’t generate much revenue. To
negate this, short films typically have
small production budgets in the hopes
that the filmmaker can at least break even
or turn a small profit. To achieve low
expenditure, locations are ‘everyday’
settings and few are used, unknown actors
are hired along with a small cast size.
➤ As we were creating a film as coursework,
we were not going to generate any
income, limiting our budget to what we
had along with the minor expenditure the
➤ The main character Andy has only a crew themselves could afford. Cast and
few minor credits to his name as a crew used their houses as locations and
young and relatively unknown actor. their own mobile phones for props etc.
This is similar to our principal actor, We therefore used this convention.
Zak Wooton, who has previously
acted in local theatre performances.
SMALL CAST SIZE
COMPARISON SHORT FILM
➤ As previously mentioned, short
films utilise a small principal cast
size reduce expenditure. This is
not the sole reason however, as
short films have less time to
develop their characters than
➤ Just like our film, ‘ANDY’ feature length films, it makes
only has 3 main characters sense to use your time developing
that make up the principal a handful of characters; instead of
cast. spreading the attention each
character gets thinly.
➤ Plain Sailing uses this convention,
having even less time to develop
it’s characters than ‘ANDY’.
NARRATION/VOICE-OVER
COMPARISON SHORT FILM
➤ Short films often use narration to help
accelerate the viewers understanding of the
plot, as they have less time to establish it.
The narration used in Plain Sailing helped
to bridge gaps of time by explaining Isaacs
motivations and past history. For example,
in the opening to the film Isaac explains
how he feels he has failed his exams,
bringing the viewer up-to-date with his
current predicament.
➤ ‘ANDY’ does not include a voice over.
Instead, the short challenges this
convention, setting up the main action by
switching between the past and the present,
where Andy explains what happened to
members of school staff. Upon reflection,
this is an interesting way of challenging the
narration convention that could have fit well
within the Plain Sailing narrative.
EVERYDAY SCENARIO
COMPARISON SHORT FILM
➤ Due to the low budget, short films
tend to have their narrative centred
around an ‘everyday scenario’. This is
normally something the viewer could
imagine happening in reality. By doing
this, short films are able to limit
expenditure on things such as sets, as
they can instead shoot on location. A
Sci-fi short film would require a
higher budget than a realistic
‘everyday’ drama as the mise-en-scene
required to suspend the disbelief of
the viewer would be more time and
resource intensive.
➤ Both ‘ANDY’ and Plain Sailing use an
‘everyday scenario’ set in and around a
school. This allows both to film on
location and maintain a low budget.
TWIST
COMPARISON SHORT FILM
➤ A Short Film is any film that
doesn’t have a feature length
run time, which is said to start
around the forty minute mark.
➤ In order to meet the brief we
had to create a short film of 5
minutes in length, meaning
we applied this convention to
our own film. Comparable
short films such as ‘ANDY’
also have a run time of under
40 minutes.
TODOROV’S NARRATIVE THEORY
APPLIED TO PLAIN SAILING
➤ Just like a feature film, short
films follow Todorov’s
narrative theory, even with the
time constraints.
➤ Just like Plain Sailing, ‘ANDY’
follows Todorov’s narrative
➤ Equilibrium: Isaac is going about his life, theory.
waiting for his exam results.
➤ Disruption: Anna breaks up with Isaac.
➤ Realisation: Isaac realises he has np idea what
he wants to do with his life, meets Dave and
Liam to discuss his options after Sixth Form.
➤ Restored Order: Isaac realises he doesn’t
want to go to university or into a career. He
discovers that he can create his own path and
go on a gap year.
➤ New Equilibrium: Isaac embarks on a gap
year.
RAINDANCE’S SEVEN RULES
➤ The Shorter the Better.
➤ Keep the Practicalities of
Writing in Mind.
➤ Make it Visual. ➤ Raindance is an independent
film festival and film school that
➤ Find Single Moments.
operates throughout major cities
➤ Tell a Story. including: London, Los Angeles,
New York, Vancouver, Toronto,
➤ Engage the Viewer. Montreal, Budapest, Berlin and
➤ Beware of Clichés. Brussels. These seven rules are
the advise they give to
filmmakers producing short
films for their festivals.