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How to make a short film from scratch

How to make a short film from scratch

Filmmaking is an art form that brings stories and ideas to life, not just for an audience’s enjoyment but also often to share messages of importance or to express a particular mood.  

If you’re looking to enter the world of filmmaking, creating a short film is an incredible way to show others your potential as well as explore different themes and new stories. 

Where do I start?

If you don’t have previous experience making short films, below are some ways to get started on creating your work from scratch. 

  1. The first step is to decide what the concept of your short film is and what you want the story or central theme to be. You can watch other short films and read different books, news articles or look at related artworks for inspiration. Think about tone, audience and about different moments or specific ideas that you want to see in the film as well. Then create a rough outline of the film by collating written notes or imagery. 
  2. Write the first draft of a script or treatment, give it to your friends and other peers for feedback and then re-write. Focus on a simple premise, don’t introduce a lot of characters or a complex backstory – just important details, and if you’re working on a fiction project, keep the number of locations to a minimum. 
  3. Next, start visualising your film and planning how each part of the project will take place. This can involve drawings such as storyboards or collages of existing material in mood boards or look books. 
  4. Now consider other practical aspects such as resourcing equipment, approaching collaborators, and organizing travel or permits for production. You don’t have to use expensive equipment and recent successful films have even been shot phone cameras.  
  5. During filming, ensure you keep track of your work by referring to preparation material and backing up your footage. It’s also important to be open to change and adapting your initial ideas based on different situations as they arise. 
  6. After you’ve completed filming, you can review footage and start editing. The editing process is usually the longest part of a film project and can have multiple stages such as an assembly cut (bringing together all the footage in a loose overview), a rough cut (shaping a narrative and removing superfluous material) and a fine cut (distilling the project further to a cohesive whole). 
  7. When you’re happy with the edit, you can start working on sound design and colour adjustments to give consistency and enhance the mood of the project. It’s important to seek feedback at these various stages to guide your work and ensure the film is having the desired effect for audiences. 
  8. Lastly, before you share the film, be sure to rewatch it one more time to make sure your final export is as expected and free from technical problems. 

Why should I do an MA in Film Practice? 

An MA in Film Practice will give you the necessary understanding of different filmmaking processes, creative approaches, and theoretical ideas to develop your work. It encourages you to apply critical thinking and feedback from experts and peers to create a film style that is uniquely yours. 

Why Arts University Bournemouth Online? 

Arts University Bournemouth Online offers a part-time flexible MA in Film Practice that is held online and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It has three intakes throughout the year – January, May and September - ensuring that you can start when it suits you best. 

As part of this course, you’ll have eight modules followed by a thesis film proposal and resolution where you will create your final work. The modules are: 

  1. Positioning Practice: This will help form the foundation of your study. You will evaluate your experience and knowledge of film practice to date and highlight key personal influences.   
  2. Modes of Making: You will seek new creative methods and develop various techniques to improve your practice while experimenting with different forms of film.   
  3. Film Aesthetics: This gives you the theoretical knowledge and perspective to help analyse films as art and identify relevant approaches for your work. 
  4. Encountering Performance: Explore the possibilities of collaboration and performance in film by considering how to approach, communicate and work with different people effectively. 
  5. Co-lab: This will help you think outside the box, engage with different ideas and develop creative skills that aren’t specific to filmmaking while working with others in a multidisciplinary context.  
  6. Constructing Narrative: This is all about applying research and exploring techniques that can help to create or support a cohesive narrative in your film. 
  7. Film Industries: This will help you think about the social and political role of a film in a wider context and to identify potential employment routes in the creative industries. 
  8. Cinematic Voices: You will dive into the ethical considerations of filmmaking in detail by engaging with questions of representation and identity to create culturally relevant work 

If you want to polish your filmmaking skills in an intellectually stimulating environment, learn more about Arts University Bournemouth Online’s MA in Film Practice:

Explore the course

Start your creative journey here.

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