Filmmaking / Directing : Making a short like a trailer/ok? by Winter Lauzon

Making a short like a trailer/ok?

Hello, I've been writing scripts for years now (this is the first time I'm doing it full time). I've always wanted to direct as well and it's finally occurred to me that I actually have the capability and equipment and I can just DO it and don't have to wait for anyone's permission : D Anyway, I want to know about shorts. I realize there are different kinds with different goals. But, if I wanted to make a short that was still competitive in festivals etc could I make a trailer for one of my screenplays/unproduced films? Or, is there anything I can do with a trailer? I'm sort of dying to make a trailer obviously ; ) But, can anything be done with it? Or should I just go for a short. Thanks so much, Winter

Semira Chan

You could make a trailer for the short for crowdfunding purposes (if you're doing that for funding) or you could do it for a teaser for social media. I don't see why you can't do both! Yeah - go ahead and do both ;P

Jacob Buterbaugh

You could produce a scene, or even a sequence, from your feature script. That could possibly fulfill both purposes: short for festival submission, and teaser for social media.

Winter Lauzon

Thanks guys! I have an idea brewing...very excited! Thank you.

Richard "RB" Botto

Some nice advice Semira and Jacob.

Nicholas Jordan

Oh jeeeze; I have always advised anyone whom wants to pitch to make a short which is an abbreviated version of what is intended to be feature. Running an actual production often gets snarly in ways ( difficult to reduce to a few words). Since you are the creator of ( your ) «screenplays/unproduced films» you basically are likely to have unfettered rights. Just a 2-minute reel—self produced—as a trailer for your work is ideal.

Bill Hartin

What I discovered after making several shorts is that the process is usually synergistic - both writing and filmmaking improve at the same time, not to mention the fun factor. So go for it.

Winter Lauzon

Nicholas, would that same reel be competitive at a festival though for shorts? As it would be formatted more like a teaser/trailer than a full story. Thanks so much for your time. Or do you think I should just make both, that's what I'm thinking at the moment because my long term goal is also to be a director.

Ben Sledge

One option I explored in the past is taking a scene or sequence from a feature, and sort of putting a beginning and end onto it so that it works as a standalone short. This helps, but it will likely still feel like a piece of something larger. I'm not sure how much success you'd have on festivals with either approach. Depending on the subject matter, if you can make the short function as an art/experimental category rather than narrative, that will help. But entering a trailer as a narrative short will be challenging.

Mark Lund

I made a short version of my film back in 2011 and did some screenings. From those efforts I secured the funding the feature the following year. Making a short gives you the opportunity to try some things out. In my case it was finding the right actors for the starring parts along with some special effects work. I'm planning on taking that route with my next project.

Winter Lauzon

Thanks Mark! Would you suggest following the structure of your feature film screenplay for that approach or did you take liberties with the story? How long was your short? I can try and google it too, I'm just curious as how I should approach it as there seem to be so many possibilities! Good luck with your project! And Congratz on your last one!

Mark Lund

Hi Winter. I'd be happy to let you know how we did it. If you'd like to email me at I can share my insight. Thanks.

Royce Allen Dudley

Trailers without an actual movie are very popular with current filmmakers and I think they are a mistake for most people and projects. A well crafted short film gets audience attention and festival play and can lead to attention, relationships and even deals for the filmmakers. A trailer for the sake of trailer tends to not be much of anything to anyone but the filmmaker- notable exceptions aside. One recent superb short film example that is simple and effective is THE ROUTINE, which has screened at several dozen global festivals and taken numerous awards : The Routine It works because it is self contained and complete- not a trailer, not a tease to a feature, neither of which by definition are short films (Disclaimer, I have nothing to do with the film but I know the Writer/ Actress / Producer, Tara Price ).

Winter Lauzon

Thank you, Royce. That is very helpful! And what a great short! It inspired me to make mine higher quality and more like a complete story instead of a teaser. Thank you, sincerely.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

You got a lot of good advice. I'd say that whatever you do, you give it a 'trial run' with people you respect in the film biz. That is, prepare your short or trailer in detail on paper, including a rough budget, and then pitch the story to those folks. (Save the budget for someone who asks.) See what responses/suggestions you get. (I skimmed the comments above so if somebody else suggested this, comment withdrawn.)

Richard "RB" Botto

This is a popular topic on almost every ON STAGE WITH RB webcast, Winter. Never been a better time to make a short to put your talents on display or to use the format as proof of concept for a long form film.

Anne Pariseau

Hi Winter, I wanted to first just say "Yay, Go for it!". If you have a section of your longer script that has an important setup and payoff within it, then you could use it as both. I've seen some filmmakers successfully do that. I would also recommend bringing in a producer and/or an AD as it's priceless to have someone who can organize schedule, budget, crew, and cast while you can stay focused on your artistic vision.

Winter Lauzon

Thank you, everyone, for all the answers, and thanks RB for commenting! It's actually very helpful and I have begun planning and will be shooting this summer! Of course, I welcome more comments as well, you know never know when the perfect piece of wisdom will come in.

Richard "RB" Botto

You're most welcome, Winter. Look forward to seeing how things progress for you!

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