How to Improve a Short Film

thedragonfilmmaker88 Website User Posts: 81 Just Starting Out
edited August 2018 in Practical Filmmaking

I recently posted a discussion on the Hitfilm Gallery category showcasing a new short film, however, here, I was curious if I could get some criticism as to what I could improve from it-here it is: 


  • NotSoXeno
    NotSoXeno Website User Posts: 5

    for the credits could you make it more readable. other than that it's

  • DafterThings
    DafterThings Website User Posts: 973 Enthusiast

    I commented on the video itself but will post here as well.

    I was really impressed. Other than that one punch (  ) all the elements were there with nothing obviously wrong.
    I could say at <insert time> somebody looked at camera or at this point framing wasn't quite right or, in the night scene,  it could still have done with some additional lighting but it was all done well in other scenes. 
    I think that's the next step (and I am including my own videos in this) .
    We know what are the right things to do. We just need to do them a bit better but, more importantly, more consistently.

    Hope that all makes sense

  • thedragonfilmmaker88
    thedragonfilmmaker88 Website User Posts: 81 Just Starting Out

    @NotSoXeno I agree with you, the font I chose is a bit difficult to read

  • thedragonfilmmaker88
    thedragonfilmmaker88 Website User Posts: 81 Just Starting Out

    @DafterThings Thanks for the suggestions! In addition to the technical side of things, I'm trying to improve storytelling, dialogue, and the emotional impact of the story.  Thanks again for your feedback, I'm excited to see  what the both of us can create in the future :)

  • CleverTagline
    CleverTagline Moderator Las Vegas, NVModerator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,305 Ambassador

    From a storytelling standpoint, one thing that stood out to me was the opening scene. I didn't feel that it added anything to the overall story. It also felt a little too corny compared to the rest of the short, in part because I didn't buy the supposed danger of that hill they were descending on their bikes.  If it were reworked a little it might work better as an opener, but part of me thinks that cutting the bike scene and opening with the indoor shooting scene (currently at 2:53) would be stronger.

  • thedragonfilmmaker88
    thedragonfilmmaker88 Website User Posts: 81 Just Starting Out
    edited August 2018

    @jsbarret That issue did stand out to me as well, and is something I definitely noticed while editing. Its purpose was supposed to be an introduction to the characters, and their motivations, however, I suppose it wasn't entirely necessary and could've been cut. Thanks for your response!

  • NessOS
    NessOS Website User Posts: 1

    Overall, I'd  say was well made. The characters each had their own distinct personalities and you even managed to squeeze in a mini character-arch in there. 

    Sound and Acting
    However, I think with most short films the biggest issues are the sound and the acting, and your movie is no exception. In your case, the acting is (understandably) wooden on one end, and over-the-top on the other. This is forgivable considering your access to actors is small, and your access to good actors is even smaller, but it is worth mentioning since great actors would have increased the quality of the movie exponentially. I think the trick is to find that perfect balance between scripted dialogue and improvisation. This way you still have the actors say what is needed, but with a more natural demeanor. Of course, this isn't always an option if your dialogue is extremely specific or stylish, so above all else you should try to write the best dialogue possible and make sure your actors are comfortable with their lines before you start shooting. 
    When it comes to sound, I frequently got taken out of the experience by the sound pop-ins/fade-ins when another actor started speaking their lines, especially in the outdoor scenes (The sequence from 5:22 to 5:53 is a good example). This could probably be remedied, or at least reduced, with more room tone to help transition between the different lines of dialogue. If your microphone isn't very directional, and you're picking up too much ambient noise, your last resort is, of course, ADR. 

    A few minor things

    • Make sure you wait a few second before stopping the recording to avoid small jitters at the end of a clip. 
    • Depending on how fast your lenses are, you could buy some cheap ND filters to avoid blowing out the highlights in the outdoor scenes and getting better depth of field. 
    • The punch at 7:46 was incredibly unconvincing, and came out of nowhere. It was out of character and added nothing to the story (You also could have avoided the hassle of putting dealing with fake blood). 
    • The plan to kill the monster seemed to have materialized out of thin air. It would have been a good opportunity to have your characters interact with each other. They just seem to know exactly what to do from the bat, which kills tension since we know they'll just figure it out.
    • The fireworks girl was the best actress in the film in my opinion. You'd be making the right choice by including her in your future projects.

    In the end, it seems like you already know the basics of movie making, so you just need to work at it some more. Maybe invest in a better audio setup or better lighting, and some camera movement would be nice too :)