1.4 Short film elements

THE SEVEN ELEMENTS OF A SHORT FILM

  1.  Point of View

All stories make a point.  They follow the pattern of describing a desire, a need, or a problem that must be addressed by a central character (you).  They follow the action the desire leads us to take, and then reveal realizations.

  1.   Dramatic Question

Well-crafted stories, from Shakespeare to Star Wars, set up a tension from the beginning that holds you.  In a romance, will the girl get the guy?  In an adventure, will the hero reach the goal?  In a crime or murder mystery, who did it?

  1.  Emotional Content

This effect is principally a result of a truthful approach to emotional materials.  To understand story’s role in our lives is to think of most stories as resurrection tales. Every one of us has to wake up in the morning, and choose to go on, to resurrect ourselves in the face of fate and circumstance, the memory of loss and almost unbearable struggle.

  1. The Gift of Your Voice

Those of us fortunate enough to be able to talk out loud should love our voices, because they tell everyone so much about who we are, both how strong we can be and how fragile.  In a story, we are listening for an organic rhythmic pattern that allows us to float into reverie. The easiest way to improve upon a [spoken from script] recording of your voice is to keep the writing terse. Record several takes of the text.  Work at speaking slowly in a conversational style.

  1.   The Power of the Soundtrack

People now walk around with soundtracks running in their heads, a movie that puts our life into a clearer perspective, or at least entertains us. Instrumental music or ambient sound is often better suited to the style and meaning of the story’s text and visual narratives.

  1.  Economy

Most people do not realize that the story they have to tell can be effectively illustrated with a small number of images and video, and a relatively short text.  Storytelling with images means consciously economizing language in relationship to the narrative that is provided by the images.

  1.  Pacing

Considered by many to be the true secret of successfull storytelling.  Changing pace, even in a short digital story, is very effective.  Good stories breathe.  They move along generally at an even pace, but once in a while they stop. They take a deep breath and proceed.  Or if the story calls for it they walk a little faster, and faster until they are running, but sooner or later they have to run out of breath and stop and wheeze at the side of the road.

Trust your own sense of what works.  Everyone moves at his or her own pace.

More …

[Condensed from Joel Lambert, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community]

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