What Makes A Good Short?

Episode 290 of Scriptnotes John and Craig answer a question concerning what makes a short film good or bad. They both agreed on that the film has to be straight to the point and purposeful. John says the film should want to a short film, in that the story is simple and has closure instead of a film that just feels like a compressed version of a larger story. He discusses how some great shorts are set up like a joke with a punchline, even if they aren’t funny but meaning that it introduces elements that all lead to a single thing then its over at the end. Craig says that when he looks out for a bad short he sees if every second is necessary. Since the film is shorter it makes time all the more crucial for the story. If he spots a scene that doesn’t need to be there or sees room where the film could be shorter then he says it needs to be shorter. He says that it should also not be easily predictable. He uses the great storytelling from the twilight zone as an example, saying when you’re watching you know that you’re expecting some kind of twist but the story should be engaging enough for you to forget that the twist is coming. This is very insightful to me because I have written a few short film and I enjoy the craft of trying to tell a story in a short amount of time that can give you a cinematic experience.


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