As well as working on a synopsis for a 30-minute single drama for Coming Up, my other writing project at the moment is a short film, which I may or may not enter for the Kaos Films short script competition. The concept is simple, as all good shorts should be, and the first draft is 4 pages. The minimum page length for the Kaos comp is 5 pages, and you might think it an easy enough task to stretch 4 pages to 5, but I'm wary of dragging it out just for the sake of it. 1 minute of screen time can be a very long time if isn't necessary to push the story forward. Of course, as the early deadline is 14th April and the late and final deadline in May, I suppose there's time to write another short to submit to Kaos, one that more naturally suits the specified timeframe.
In fact, though I don't write too many shorts, I've decided I'd like to have a few good short scripts under my belt by the end of the year. Short scripts are great projects for new writers, because they can usually be made cheaply and quickly so it is a good way to get a writing credit. Sites like Shooting People, Mandy and Talent Circle frequently feature posts from young directors or fledgling production companies looking for shorts scripts to direct/produce. There are also some funding opportunities and schemes for short films, such as the UK Film Council's digital shorts scheme and The Irish Film Board also have a number of short film funding initiatives.
With broadband internet connections now the norm, there is no excuse for not checking out some of the huge range of shorts available online. BBC Film Network, Channel 4 Film and Atom Films should be your first port of call. Shooting People and Raindance have both produced DVD collections of short films, details of which arehere, and here. Getting hold of scripts of produced short film scripts isn't quite so easy. I have manged to find some of the winning scripts from the Orange short film competition (sadly no longer active) to download here and there are a couple of shorts on the Internet Movie Script Database but otherwise I've drawn a blank. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.
For anyone about to trawl the net for short films, looking for inspiration, here are a few recommendations:
Six Shooter - Written and directed by playwright Martin McDonagh, this won the 2006 Oscar for Best Live Action Short. With two mesmerising performances from two of my favourite Irish actors, Brendan Gleeson and Ruadhri Conroy, dazzling dialogue and a darkly funny tone, it's a must see.
Old Street - Written by another playwright, Patrick Marber (Closer), this stars Ray Winstone as a man stuck in a carpark late at night.
Bouncer - Another one starring Ray Winstone, just because I love him so! A riveting drama with Winstone doing what he does best - playing a hard bloke with strong sense of morality.
Dual Balls - One of my tutors at university screened this clever little comedy, and it still sticks in my mind years later.
Undone - Watched this recently and again its a very simple idea, inspired by a Bjork song, which was reason enough for me to watch it.
I've picked these are they are a good variety in length, theme and genre, but I'd love to get some suggestions of other good short films, or opinions on my selections.
Red Road The Devil Wears Prada Little Miss Sunshine Away From Her The Departed Stranger than Fiction Mean Creek Switchblade Romance Somersault Keane The Wind That Shakes The Barley United 93 Breakfast On Pluto
So far this year I've read
Stuart: A Life Backwards, Alexander Masters Tilt (play), Ailis Ni Riain Comfort Woman, Nora Okja Keller The Cement Garden, Ian McEwan Stasiland, Anna Funder Starter for Ten, David Nicolls Night, Elie Weisel Silver Bay, Jojo Moyes Noise, Hari Kunzru In Cold Blood, Truman Capote Notes on a Scandal, Zoe Heller The Vanishing Hitchhiker, Ian Harold Brunvand The Courage to Create, Rollo May Bad Behaviour, Mary Gaitskill If You Want To Write, Brenda Ueland