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  • Writer's pictureLee Hamilton

How to Improve Your Feature Scripts by Writing Shorts

Why would someone waste their time writing a short film? “They don’t make any money,” “I don’t know anyone who watches them,” and “I don’t want a career in short filmmaking” are common answers from reluctant writers, but they’re missing the point. There are tons of great reasons as to why you absolutely should be writing short films – especially if you want to write features.


Getting accolades for your first feature can be tough. Writing an original and professional script of 90 minutes or more intense storytelling is a challenge for any screenwriter. And potentially even more so when you are just starting out. Problem is, it can take a really long time to write a feature, and subsequently, that slows how quickly you learn the craft. But you can boost that progress by writing short scripts as practice, which makes writing shorts an excellent shortcut to learning all the skills you need to write that great feature film idea you have.


A short isn’t a condensed feature film, it’s not a trailer, and it’s not a proof-of-concept. Yes, it absolutely can be used as all of those things, but a short film is a self-contained story all to itself with a beginning, middle, and end. While a short film can be anything up to 45mins long, the current consensus is ‘the shorter, the better’, forcing writers to trim back on the character development, the backstory, the subplots, and to only explore one single conflict. Having one simple but compelling premise helps pull your focus, as you don’t have the same amount of time that a feature has to explore different facets of a character’s life, or the same amount of budget, meaning you also need to limit the number of locations, characters, or SFX, etc.

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