Short Stories for Filmmakers


Short Stories for Filmmakers


Chris Coulson


I’m always on the lookout for ideas for films, and we’ve all seen a number of brilliant short 1 minute joke films, by Basil & Pete, and by Barbara Walker, to name a couple of our filmmakers.

Now I’m thinking, what’s the next step up from a “1 minute joke to a film”? My thoughts are leading me in the direction of short stories. Colin Jones is a whizz at writing short stories from a filmmakers point of view, and you only have to read his latest story for the coaching evenings to see his particular talent. Unfortunately Colin’s back catalogue isn’t freely available to browse, although I’m sure you could ask him for ideas.

This morning, I’ve been traversing the entire internet looking at short stories. Some of them have been really interesting, and inspiring, and others have involved police cars, or spaceships, or large crowds, or simply impossible locations. So it’s not that straightforward to write a story that can be made into a short zero-budget film!

Here’s a list of criteria that I’ve thought about off the top of my head for writing a short story that’s idea for us. Maybe we can approach a writing club or something to write us a story?

Short Story Criteria

  • less than three main characters
  • simple every day locations, like a lounge or a residential street, and as few as possible.
  • no exotic props – Ferraris or Spaceships are generally difficult to source (unless you have one, and are offering it for our use)
  • no exotic costumes, (Also, unless you have one and are offering it)
  • short story, less than five minutes in length – 5 minutes would take approximately a day to film.
  • long conversational dialogue is great, but don’t think that’s all we want! (unless it’s VERY good)

I think that should be enough information for a story writer to work with?

Can you think of any other criteria that would help a story writer?

PS, if this topic has inspired you, don’t forget, the club still has a SIGNIFICANT FUND OF CASH** to offer anyone who would like a budget to make a film.

**come on…. of course there are *some* stipulations!


Here are some links to a few interesting things I’ve found.

Short and Very Short Stories Shared Among Friends (Amazon)

Five Minutes’ Stories (In the orange box on the right, select the format as PDF, and press download)


If you discover any useful websites, please feel free to post them in the comments too!

One Reply to “Short Stories for Filmmakers”

  1. Chris, I’m not sure whether people are aware of this but just before joining the club I completed my script writers foundation certificate with Raindance. I’ve literally hundreds of thousands of words (if not millions) written down in regards to numerous story universes, and I’ve gradually been translating many of the short story snippets into scripts (one of the ways of defining these source universes is putting a character to two into context).

    I’ll not suggest any of these, as they are from very specific genres, but I’ve [probably] three scripts written for ‘release’ which are more generic and more on the way. I’m willing to make them available to club members who are serious about making something.

    I’ve also been working towards two projects to film after I’ve finished my MA (though I may actually do one before, as a video test of my new kit, a Sony SLT-A65V) – one is a series of short films in a specific source universe, the other is a one-off film-noir set aboard an Empire flying boat.

    If anyone is interested, then I’m happy to talk to them about collaboration – if not even a club-level pitch if there are sufficient takers.

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