What makes a good short film? Hit the ground running – the problem your chracter faces should be quickly established,
Two or three main characters, one or two locations, a chronological narrative or three act structure in which a limited number of events are relayed. Some visual qualities, and a twist perhaps. Character is how we engage in story, what we hope and fear, and too many of those or too many locations or flashbacks detract from this .
The sharp short is under 3 minutes and often relies on a joke or jack in a box strucutre
There is a great website www.depict.org which has a wide range of 1.5 minute films, and is a competition. there are some which are visual poems, others, such as ‘How to end a releationship” which is episodic, others which tell a story in a more straightforward way.
Also The Marvellous Handshake, a simple interview filmed in an amusing way
The Lunch date shows many of the elements of a longer 10 minute commercial short in which s simple problem develops a conflict which reveals character and has great twists and a story.
Other films that I think are instructive in different ways – in a famous film based on an Ambrose Pierce short story called An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge – the atmosphere and location are key to the opening before we meet the main character.
This film is the third length of short film – the academy short, about 20-30 minutes in length, so called becaue it is the kind of film that the academy choose for Oscars.
Andrea Arnold’s Wasp ( 2003), available on you tube, is a good example of this, where the story has more than one main incident, and there is room for a bit more complexity of characterisation. This film builds gradually.