Why you should be writing short films

In the last few years, the barriers to entry for filmmaking have fallen. Anyone with a smartphone can be a filmmaker now and there are so many ways to get your work before an audience. So… what’s stopping you? Start making short films. I’m serious about this.

Maybe you’re already making films — that’s awesome! But maybe you’re reading this and thinking, uh… not a filmmaker, I barely know how to find my camera app on my phone and I usually end up pointing it the wrong way. That’s okay. Maybe you’re interested in writing? Probably, if you’re here. So here’s a secret — a lot of filmmakers need material to shoot. Especially aspiring filmmakers who are trying to hone their craft and make a name for themselves in the industry. They need good stories. You’re a good storyteller. 


Seriously, though, if you’re not thinking this way, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to get your work out there. Everyone wants to write the next great novel – and I think you should! go, go write that novel! — but with some practice you might be able to bang out the first draft of a script for a 5 – 7 minute short in a just a few days. Think about how productive you can be. I can usually pull out a first draft in an hour or two now.

Then, team up with the right people and you might get to see your work actually produced, maybe even at a film festival.

I know this might all be entirely new to you, but I have a Pinterest board  with some resources that will help you learn some of the basics and get started.

Follow Justin McLachlan’s board Filmmaking on Pinterest.

And for some inspiration, here’s a look at my very, very first short film. It’s silent — no dialogue. We debuted at the Arizona International Film Festival and then also screened at Dragon*Con and Otherworlds Austin. Not bad for a first time out of the gate.

[youtube https://youtu.be/85QsPmbQuAc&w=550]


As a bonus, here’s a link to a PDF of the script. It might give you some ideas about the format, but also about how the words on the page translate into a visual presentation.

Download the script

Okay — so what are you waiting for? Get started on that first script.

And oh, if you think you actually want to take this from script to screen all on your own, you can totally do that, too. No film school required. Be on the lookout for a step-by-step guide on creating your first short film soon. I’ll update this post when it’s available.