Exploring Film Genres for Telling Hero Stories: Narrative Shorts
by Wendy Milette
, The MY HERO Project
(Laguna Beach, CA)
Area: Art/Music, English/Language Arts, Social Science, Technology/Media Literacy, Other subject
Level: 5-8, 9-12, college
A narrative film tells a story using camera movement, sound, lighting, editing and other filmmaking techniques.
In making a short film, you want to think about your audience. People love stories, especially a story in which they care about the main character. Often what endears people to characters is watching them go through trials and tribulations.
How has your hero overcome obstacles and dealt with challenges in his/her life's journey?
How has your hero achieved his/her goals?
What makes your hero unique?
What feeling do you want to leave the audience with at the end of the film?
In preparation for making your narrative short keep these simple guidelines in mind:
You are telling a STORY.
Whose story is it?
What happens? Have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Where does the story take place?
When does the story take place?
Why have you decided to tell this story?
What is the importance of this hero story to you and others?
The best place to begin your filmmaking process is with writing your SCRIPT.
Keep the story and action as simple as possible.
Outline the main points you are interested in.
Make a list of questions.
Structure the beginning, middle, and end.
Write, re-write, and re-write some more.
In structuring a narrative short, you can combine establishing shots, scenes, montages, and subjective footage in a variety of ways to create an interesting story.
Establishing shots are usually wide exteriors of the location to establish where the story takes place.
Scenes are usually shot with actors interacting in a location. Some scenes have dialogue, some do not.
Montages are usually created by combining music and stills (or footage without dialogue) in sequences to help tell the story.
Subjective footage is "getting inside the character's head." There are many ways to be creative in expressing what a character is feeling, thinking or dreaming. Point of view (POV) shots with some sound effects and narration (voiceover) can create the effect of being in someone's head.
Radified Screenwriting Guide - A helpful link about screenwriting.
Film Study Guide for To Kill a Mockingbird - An example of screenwriting.
Wendy's Recommended Books on Filmmaking - A list of helpful books for beginning filmmakers.
This is your short film so be creative and have fun!