• Anthony Hett

How to write a short film - Writing for your readers

Hello and welcome to my blog, where I offer simple and practical advice on how to write and make an interesting, engaging and hopefully successful short film.

Today I will be discussing the importance of Writing for your readers.

What do I mean when I say that you need to write for your readers?

Well let’s start with what I don’t mean. What I don’t mean is that you should be writing a film (or novel, short story, poem etc) that you think the audience wants. Yes of course you want your film to connect with an audience, you want people to watch/read and enjoy it.

However, firstly it is quite difficult to know what an audience wants, while it is also quite easy to miss a trend which will leave your script feeling out of date. Secondly, I strongly believe that you should always try to write the film that you want to make. This way you will be writing something that you will enjoy writing and making. While, thirdly I also believe that you should write the film that you would like to see yourself. This is because if it is something that you would like to watch, there is a good chance that lots of other people will want to watch it too. So don't write the film you think people want to see, write the film you are most passionate about seeing made.

So if that’s what I’m not saying, what am I saying exactly?

When I say that you should write a script with the people who will read it in mind, what I mean is that you should think about who - cast, crew, etc - will be reading your script and what information they will need to gather from it.

If you are the writer and director, then there will be lots of information in your head that might not make it into the script. This is fine for you, as you know these details, they are in your head and maybe you have them somewhere in your notes, shot list, storyboard etc. However, what about everyone else who is going to read your script – producers, cinematographer, actors, costume, set design etc, there are lots of different people who will be reading your script, who will all need their own specific information.

So it is important that everyone gets what they need from the script. However, it is also important that you do not take this to mean that you should cram every thought and idea into the script. In fact far from it, as with most things in life, it is a matter of balance. Make sure that you script has all the information it needs but do not overload it or the script will become dense and difficult to read.

Remember that there is a place for all the extra information, that doesn’t go into your script, in your synopsis, treatment, character breakdowns, storyboard and so on. However, when you are polishing up your script and getting it ready for the shooting script, give a little thought to the different people who will be reading your script and what information they might require to best complete their roles.

So those are my thoughts on Writing for your readers. I hope that you find this post helpful. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Also be sure to check out my YouTube videos and I will see you back here soon. Next week I will be discussing film length in a post called How long should a short film be?