How To Write A Script For A Short Film – Screenplay Tips

How to write a script for a short film template

Like many novel writers, I often find myself thinking in terms of moving images. I visualise my story and play a short movie in my head – so why not write the story in the form of a short film instead? The format isn’t like writing a novel. Show, not tell is obviously more important, and there are also certain formatting rules that have to be strictly followed.

After deciding to outline a screenplay for an idea I had for a short movie, I researched the internet for ‘how to’ articles and videos about writing movie scripts. Normally, I go for free resources, and as they say, ‘you pay your price and take your chance!

I have natural aversion to paying for script writing courses …

… when there’s so much free advice on the internet, until I came across ‘Movie In A Month’, a DVD course put together by James Lamberg. If you’ve never heard of him, it’s because he has mostly ghost-written over 30 commercially successful movies for USA and UK audiences.

Apart from the fact that the course is sent by physical DVD (quite rare nowadays) the testimonials from professionals are an eye-opener. I guess the lessons are DVD based because of the amazing guarantee that comes with the package, which I’ll get into right now.

In short, I have never seen such an impressive guarantee for any product offered on the internet. Basically, James promises that you will sell a movie script within a year of taking the course! If not, simply return the DVD in good conditions and get refunded 100%.

That’s not all. As well as showing you how to write a movie script fast, guidelines are given for submitting it in the right format, and even who to send it too to ensure it gets noticed. Check it out below and oh, by the way – it’s perfect for beginners who know nothing about the industry.

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How To Write A Script For A Short Film – Josh’s Tips

Video Transcript:

Hey guys what’s up? It’s Josh WRD here bringing you a brand new video. Today is episode 2 of ‘How to make a short film’. This episode we are talking to you guys about script writing tips and tricks, and some inspirational links and just places that I found that have really helped me write my first scripts.

I spent the last like four months really, just like doing research, learning the ins and outs and really, like yeah, if there’s a lot more that goes into this, then this video will actually cover. But I thought this would give you kind of a good stepping stone or hopefully get the ball rolling for you guys to get your first script started.

Tips for how to write a script for a short filmThis is it right here. It’s not very long or anything. I don’t know if you can even see this okay. So first off you have your idea, like in the first video and that’s great. Now you need to know how to write a script, so there’s a whole bunch of links that I’m going to talk to you guys about.

In this video the first thing that I really wanted to do, to understand how to write a short script is to read scripts and I actually saw in a bunch of other videos that reading scripts is a really good start.

The first link that I’m going to give you is it’s like an Internet Movie Database, so IMDB for scripts and downloading scripts for yourself. And the first script that I downloaded is right here on the front page – ‘la-la land’.

I love Damien Chazelle and to see how he writes. I really wanted to, like, break down ‘lala land’ because it was my favorite movie last year, and I was just like all encompassed in this film.

I have it printed somewhere but I just to like use that as a stepping stone. To see how, here I’ll just click through here and show you guys just how easy this site is. I can’t really see, I got the camera kind of in the way here, so read ‘la-la-land’ script.

There we go. So as you can see, it is right here. I’m going to have all the links in the description below but go to ‘imsd’ be calm and read scripts instantly because that is the first thing that I did and that really did actually help me out.

Next thing you’re going to have to do is learn what like how scripts are put together. So I put a link in the description for this wiki how to page. Says ‘how to write a movie script’ so here’s just a quick overview of the stuff that you’re going to see in that understanding what a script is.

Read the scripts of some of your favorite movies. Well there you go. That’s what I just told you to do. Number three – flesh out your concept. Outline your story. Write the story in three acts because that’s every movie has three acts, if you didn’t know that.

Short movie script writing template

Udemy Script Writing Course For Beginners

To add some sequences, start writing your scenes. Begin writing dialogue. Cut away the dead weight and show your finished work to your friends. And that is the one that is, like, there’s been a lot of edits on my first script.

I have a writing partner in my friend Ben who went to school to become a writer, so I’m really fortunate to have a friend that is helping me out in this. He doesn’t have as much time as he used to in to write all the scripts, so I thought I would try and take this everything on myself and kind of encompass it into this channel.

The number one thing I could say as filmmaker in general is get, or hopefully you have, a friend that is already a writer like I do. Because that makes everything, the jumping off points, so much easier.

But if this is more, how to get you started, if you aren’t going to really be a screenwriter the whole time or if you just want to start making your own movies. So there you go. There’s another link for you guys.

So next I’m going to talk to you guys about the program that I used to write my first script and that is Celtx. It is a free script writing program online. Just go to I got the link in the description below.

Short film script writing guidelinesHere’s a few scripts that we’re working on. That’s the first rendition of Game Night. This is the actual script that for the short film. These are a whole bunch of, like premium things, that you can do with Celtx. As well as budgeting, storyboarding, index cards, breakdowns, shot lists, all that stuff.

It costs money but the script writing portion of this program is free and you can collaborate with your writing partner like I am with Ben. So here it opens up in a new window and this is, this is the entire script for Game Night.

So there’s just a little sneak peek. That’s all you guys get. I don’t want to show you too much because I want to keep the short film as spoiler free as possible. As well as breaking it down and going into how I’m creating it as I’m doing it, I don’t know if that’s going to be an easy process or not.

This is just another tip that has really worked out for me is, because I forget stuff, so have a little note notepad and if you’re watching a movie or TV shows just have it beside you. And if you see something that you really like, jot it down like ‘uh wow, the reveal of this character was really cool’ or they only showed this character wearing red and red had a lot of meaning to this particular film, or something and I really like the symbolism behind that.

I write down all that type of stuff in my notebook and just for cues for later. Like, I really knew the tone that I wanted for Game Night so I started watching a bunch of movies with in that same tone.

And I started borrowing a few ideas of the different movies and TV shows sort of had in that same kind of tone and that’s just a really cool way to inject other things that you might otherwise forget about while you’re at the writing process.

Celtx movie script writing softwareI rewrote a lot of stuff after, I looked back at my notes as well, so like, this has been a really good thing for me. In trying to put this whole thing together, lastly I just wanted to show showcase a few other YouTube channels that really helped me out when I when it came down to writing my first script.

And the main one that I’ve been a fan of for a long time is ‘Lessons from the Screenplay’. He does like, video essays and breakdowns of like, a lot of TV shows and movies that I really like. But he brings up what was actually on the screenplay first to show you how different things are from like the writing process to how they’re actually made on screen.

Or if there’s some improvisation or just stuff like that and it’s really cool and it really helped me kind of understand. It just really helped me understand the the writing processand it makes you again think a little bit differently of how to watch movies as well.

Like, for me, I’ve been watching movies probably differently than you watch movies for the majority of my life because I’ve been making short films and videos with my friends since I was a young kid. And I started watching movies on ‘how are they creating this? how are they putting this together?’

And I think that’s why I am so desensitized to horror movies and they don’t scare me anymore, because my mind is always thinking ‘oh how are they accomplishing this Gore? how are they doing this?.

I really want to break it all down and see the behind the scenes of this and that’s just how I always watch movies, unless I’m watching them to review them. I watch them a little more objectively than that. I don’t know, so that’s another tip to kind of, especially if you have a favorite movie, watch it over and over and over again.

Try watching with the sound off. That really helps you with like composition as well and it really helps you break down a movie completely. But with writing, obviously you want to have the sound on and see who dialogue and all that stuff, but yeah, Lessons from the Screenplay – amazing YouTube channel.

Definitely go and check him out if you’re planning on writing a script. Here’s another one, the Script Lab. They break down the whole process. This is the channel that you really want to go to if you have no idea what you’re doing, like me.

So I’m going to scour their channel a lot more, and yeah, just go through that because I want to continue to to write, because this is my first one. I want to make sure that this is, I just want it to be a stepping stone for me, writing and creating more films of my own.

The last link that I’m going to show you guys today is Film Courage. Again, it’s interviews with celebrities. It’s breakdowns of screenwriting tips and advice from other writers and that is seriously, like I spend, it’s like a ritual every Saturday morning.

I get to sleep in, so I choose to wake up and stay in for a good hour, or an hour and a half and just watch nothing but informative YouTube videos on an endless playlist. And I find myself laying in bed way longer than I expected.

So that is my tips and advice for screenplay writing or just in general. I hope this was informative for you guys. If it was, don’t forget to hit that like button. Let me know in the comments down below if there are any other informative channels or websites that I that I missed and I’ll add them to the description as well.

Let’s get the conversation going down below. I really want to know what you guys are working on and any other projects that you guys have on the go, or older projects that you want me to see.

I really want this channel to be a tight-knit film community to help all of us grow and make better films together. So that’s all I got for today guys. I hope you enjoyed this video. Thank you guys so much for stopping by….

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2 Replies to “How To Write A Script For A Short Film – Screenplay Tips”

  1. Jack Crowley says:

    I read somewhere that trying to write a short film using the script format for a feature film is like trying to fit a gallon into a quart container- is this about right, are are they exaggerating?


    1. Derek Bruce says:

      Before I started getting into the nuts and bolts of how novels and movies were structured and written, I’d always associated short films with documentaries. Fiction was always out there, but not so evident. Now it’s much more active. Take a look on Youtube and you’ll find loads of award-winning short movies that are really good, telling a story in under 20 minutes. It’s a great way for new script writers and film makers to cut their teeth and a good way into the industry. After all, if you know how to write a script for a short film, it’s just a step away from writing a feature length screenplay.

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