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Helpful Tips for the Short Film Contest

By Jason Bash

We are very excited about our short film contest, and we hope you are too!

Here are some tips to help you more easily create a great screenplay for this (and any other) short film contest.


First, be sure to check out our Guidelines.

Know what the requirements are and what we’re looking for so that you can create a screenplay that has the best chance of winning one of the awards.

Keep it short. Like, really short.

Most short films can be cut down more than the creator(s) think they can. If your script ends up at eight pages, see if you can get it down to 6 ½ or seven. If your script ends up at five pages, see if you can get it to four. If you don’t agree with this statement, get online and watch a bunch of short films – you will see that most of them are longer than they need to be and can be cut down. Our limit is 10 minutes (10 pages) but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all.

Get into the idea quickly and get out of the idea quickly.

In a short film, the intention is to make a big impact in a short amount time. Don’t let scenes or moments or plot development become too complicated or long. Jump into the idea quickly, hit it hard, then quickly resolve the story. In other words, it’s better to keep it simple than to add too much.

When in doubt, pay off the genre.

If you’re not sure if moments or scenes or plot points or lines of dialogue are relevant to your short film, ask if they are fulfilling the genre that you have chosen for the screenplay. If your short film is a comedy, ask if that moment will make people laugh. If it’s a horror, ask if it will scare them. Always give the audience the genre that you’re selling them!

Remember that you don’t have to choose a subgenre.

Subgenres are often great and help make a screenplay more specific, but don’t forget, you’re not required to include one. Sometimes if you add a subgenre that doesn’t quite fit the idea (logline), it will confuse other people who are trying to contribute to the screenplay. Adding too many unnecessary subgenres can also cause confusion, so use your judgment about whether or not the subgenre really applies to your idea.

Make sure there is a visual component.

Screenwriting is a visual medium which means creating images. The audience should be able to get entertainment or impact out of the things they are seeing on screen. So be wary of ideas that don’t have much going visually. For example, two people sitting on a couch talking probably doesn’t have much to offer visually unless you specifically work to incorporate something to see as well.

For public screenplays: check back in fairly often.

This will help you see new contributions and you’ll be able to vote on the best ones to help the development of the public screenplay progress more quickly and also in the best direction possible.

For private screenplays: choose a method to work – alone or together.

If you are the starter of a private screenplay, decide if you want to work alone or if you would like others to work with you. If you want others to work with you, then keep checking for requests from other users to join the screenplay and give their ideas sincere consideration. Remember that the starter of a private screenplay can accept or reject any contribution, so the story can go in whichever direction you prefer. But also remember that other people will have great ideas too, so give them a shot!

You can enter as many short film screenplays as you would like.

The more you participate, the better your chances are of earning prizes. Just remember that you can only have two (2) private and two (2) public screenplays going at one time, so be sure to finish one if you’d like to start something new. But the more you finish, the more you can start and enter! But that said…

Don’t spread yourself too thin while working on the platform.

If you have a ton of screenplays you’re working on at once, you might find yourself unfocused and it might become difficult to contribute substantial elements to each screenplay. This can be especially true if you have started the maximum number of screenplays plus you are working ones that other users have created – the ones you started might not get done. When you begin working in the contest, try to choose only a few screenplays to concentrate on. If you find you have more time to participate, then jump on in to other screenplays.

Be sure to follow our guidelines.

Again, the closer you stick to our guidelines, the better the chances your screenplay will have of winning prizes. We want you to be creative and express yourselves and have fun, but there are reasons why we have our guidelines in place. So though you might have a genre or idea that merits heavy swearing or nudity, unfortunately that won’t work for our contest. That said, there is still a lot of creativity that can happen within the guidelines.

But the most important tip is… have fun!


Blaise Junker

Blaise Junker

February 24, 2019 at 3:22 PM - Reply

I like the type about cutting your screenplay down. One of the things that drew me to screenwriting vs prose is the brevity aspect. Now to put that advice to the test.

Blaise Junker

Blaise Junker

February 24, 2019 at 3:22 PM

tip not type, grrr.

Blaise Junker

Jason Bash

May 18, 2019 at 3:20 AM

Fantastic! That's a great takeaway, Blaise. Happy writing!

Abdallah Shehadeh

Abdallah Shehadeh

February 26, 2019 at 7:38 AM - Reply

thank you very much, i think it will be very helpfully with writing our screenplays. Regards Abdallah Shehadeh Palestine

Abdallah Shehadeh

Jason Bash

May 18, 2019 at 3:21 AM

You're welcome, Abdallah, happy to help. Cheers!

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