Introduction: How to Make a 10 Second Short Film

Ok so it might seem a little odd making an intructable on How to Make a 10 Second Short Film.

Look maybe your right. Maybe it is a bit strange.

But than again in hindsight. You couldn't be more wrong.

It's actually very helpful, informative, entertaining, enjoyable, and just a plain good idea to do.

But wait. Before you start, I'm going to be making a lot of references to a 10 second short film the I recently made: 'Cable Tie' So if you don't watch it, you're going to ruin the learning experience completely.

It's 10 seconds long, it's got nearly 2K views, and there are a lot of people who love it.

Stop what you are doing. Watch it.

Cable Tie - A 10 Second Short Film

But wait. Still before you start, I've made an extensive video on how to make 10 second short films. And I don't know whether you prefer to watch or read. Regardless this is a short and to the point video that covers some different points. Again, you should really watch it.

It's about 6 minutes long, it deserves more views, and there a many people who found it useful.

Stop what you are doing. Watch it.

How to Make a 10 Second Short Film

Ok good. Let's begin....

Step 1: What, Why, Who, How, Where?

Picture of What, Why, Who, How, Where?

Ok, good to know you have watch both those videos and are ready for more.

If you haven't. What are you doing? Final chance:

Cable Tie - A 10 Second Short Film

How to Make a 10 Second Short Film

Good. Let's get down to business.

You ask: Why 10 Seconds that's so short? How do I even do that? What is the point?

Good question.

Ok yes, 10 second short films are very short. But there is lot to be learned from something this length, a lot that you won't get from making a typical short film. True story.

You can't approach it the same as you would a typical short film either, but I'll get to that shortly.

And the point, well there are a few:

- You'll learn the art of necessity on screen (what to show and what not to show)

- You grasp and understanding of a short form film, and what you need to hook audiences

- It's flipping awesome fun, and not hard to do

Step 2: Structure

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Structure, like any film, is incredibly important. Don't neglect it.

Structure, in 10 second short films, is incredibly different. Don't forget it.

Simplified, there are three main film ways to approach films:

- Structural (Like a typical story structure)

- Episodic (Like a web or tv series)

- Punchline (Little bit like a comedy skit)

Now as much as I like structural and episodic films, for 10 seconds, um fat chance.

My experience with short short films is that they are best suited with a punchline mode.

I could go in depth as to why exactly, but honestly there is little point. To sum it up, consider your 10 second short film to be a short skit or play; it's all about how it ends.

(Quick disclaimer: This is not always the case, and it can be done other ways. It's just super difficult, and I would recommend it)

Now don't get me wrong, you still need to have some form of introduction and conclusion, but these will have to be in the blink of an eye. You really can't afford to dwell on the intro, otherwise you'll have no story left.

Pro Tip: It helps to write for a very recognisable situation, the viewer sees it and immediately knows what's happening, save you some time justifying the position.

Step 3: Funny or Scary?

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So, based on my experience and research this is my conclusion: There are few genres that work for 10 second short films, but the two main ones have proven themselves to be, Comedy & Horror/Thriller.

Why you ask? Well it very much has to do with the nature of punchline modes both of these genres are able to revolve around this.

In Comedy it can end of a joke.

In Horror it can end on a jump scare.

Makes sense? You don't have to do either of them, but you may have some difficulty with the likes of a drama or tragedy, where it's all about the mood/feel/moment. You don't have much moment, so use it carefully.

Step 4: The Concept

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Yes your script will be vital for this one. Now when I say script, I'm not necessarily literally meaning the words on paper but rather the concept and clear vision you have.

Here are some basic bullet points to keep in mind:

- You're punchline is everything, subsequently give it all your time

- A tip I would have for the length, and is generally good practice: write would be a 20second script and cut it in half. This gives you a chance to realise what is important and what is not.

- Don't be afraid to dump the idea; if it's not flying, trash it and start afresh. You won't exactly have thrown out a feature film script.

Step 5: Audio

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You may have hear it said that audio is 50% of films.

Well guess what it's like 99% of 10 second short films. Ok not completely but, it's super important.

There is a good chance this will make up the punchline, weather is music/foley to make you jump, or a hilarious line of dialog. It's going to be heavily relying on your audio.

So, give it the time/effort/money it deserves. Need I say more?

Good, you've got it.

Step 6: No. 1 Piece of Advice

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What do I think is the most important thing in 10 second short films?


If you're short is too complicated (I'm using the word in the sense of story), it's going to feel confusing, cluttered, and simply not as enjoyable to watch. Don't cram too much in there.

If you're going to treat it like a feature film, it ain't going to work.

Keep it simple. And everyone will thank you, including your future self.

(Disclaimer: I use the simplicity in the sense of story, the scene can totally have action but the motives and driving points need to be easy to understand)

Step 7: That's It! Done.

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Great, that's it. Now you are ready to create your very first 10 second short film.

Awesome, that's great to hear.

Do take heed to my advice, don't think it's a rule or set in concrete; literally nothing in film is rule.

If you have created a 10 second short film, I would love to see it!

Please do leave a comment below with a link to the video, and I'll try my best to give some feedback (provided you're wanting some)

If you watched the videos and enjoyed them, perhaps you'd like my channel.

You can see some awesome tutorial filmmaking videos, as well as short films and all sort of other awesome stuff on the channel: Valley Films YouTube Channel

I'm also on Facebook and Instagram where you can find some awesome behind the scenes action.

Both of them @valleyfilmsmax

Thank you very much for spending the time to view this instructable.

I hope you found it helpful.

Now go get a camera, and get shooting!



Valley Films (author)2017-06-25

Let's get the chat rolling. Any super short films you've already made that you would like to share? Put them here (:


About This Instructable




Bio: Max Paterson shares filmmaking, tips, tricks and tutorials to help improve your filmmaking skills. His goal is to create informative and entertaining content that inspires ... More »
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