Screenwriting : Turning a Short into a Feature Film length script, have you ever done that? by Jennifer Lynn

Jennifer Lynn

Turning a Short into a Feature Film length script, have you ever done that?

I completed an Animated Short last month, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head. When my brother read it, he said I can really see this being a feature film and that he wants to read more of what I have up in my brain lol Like he thought I could have really done more with it. He loved it, and supported my decision on keeping it as a short...but... After I "completed" it, I saw exactly what he meant. It's been sitting for a couple of weeks (while I work on Action script), but I kind of want to randomly pick it up one of these days and make it at least 118 pages.

Jennifer Lynn

Have you ever done that before with your own work? Did you like the outcome of making it longer?

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Jennifer. Yes, I expanded a short into a feature idea with the director of the short. We took the characters from the short and expanded their journey. We found that we had to let go of the short completely and found a more interesting and compelling story for the feature. Best of luck with your writing :)

D Marcus

I've done it. If you want to randomly pick it up one of these days and make it at least 118 pages you should do it!

Stuart Wright

I've done it too

CJ Walley

I've not done it but I'd say it's a very promising sign when a reader feels that way and you as a writer are full of new creative ideas.

Anthony Cawood

I'm in the middle of doing it with my short 'Graft', the short script is probably too expensive to film but has had loads of positive feedback... so a feature seems a logical next step, fingers crossed it comes out as planned.

Anthony Cawood

Yes ;-)

Richard Toscan

Probably the most successful recent example (2014): Whiplash by Damien Chazelle, started life as a short he made to raise funding for production. Then somebody slipped on a banana peel and decided it couldn't be considered for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay because the full length film was based on a short.

Shari D. Frost

Why "at least 118 pages?" That's almost considered long these days. Don't worry yourself about page count. Start with a beat sheet -- the act breaks, mid-point, climax, etc. -- and go from there. See if the story flows. Depending on what kind of story you end up with you might be fine at 90 pages. And let us know how it turns out!!

Elisabeth Meier

I think there is no rule how to write a short best into a feature. Everyone has another way. If it is difficult, because you have never done it, begin step by step, meaning you can create new scenes, dialogues and action in smaller steps, create a past of each character or a future they are dreaming of etc. Write every day just 1-3 pages without judging whether it is good or not. Then, after reaching the minimum of 90 pages I would go through it again and judge what is good what not. I recommend this because in smaller steps the whole thing does not look that huge anymore and by writing 3 pages a day you have your feature written within the next 30 days.

Gordon Olivea

Although it wasn't a short film, the short story "The Shawshank Redemption" became a classic. It is one of the best scripts I've ever read.

GiVan Johnson

there's a SHORT FILM titled: alive in joburg that was later injected with steroids and became DISTRICT 9.

Steven Fussell

It is my understanding that Whiplash was a feature length script that was later adapted to a short film to get get funding for the feature.

Mary Laurissas Stoner

Did your brother say why he thought it should be a feature? Does the concept lend itself to that (it's goal oriented) or was his comment based on cool characters that might work for a TV series? Like Elisabeth described, to make it a feature you will need a high concept that implies 3 acts. A short usually has only one turning point.

Jennifer Lynn

Thanks for all the great comments everyone!! He thought everything about it was great, and he felt like the characters were strong enough to do much more with them. He wanted it to be longer and he wants to share it with his young students, he thinks they would love it. I had told him that I have a lot more of this story brewing, but I wanted to try to do an animated short just to do one. I can't even write a short text or e-mail, I really didn't think I'd be able to write a short lol...I guess I did, but I have so much more of the story inside of me to make it a feature. I've only ever written feature film length, but I adore everything Pixar and wanted to try a short.

Dave McCrea

re Whiplash - did he write the feature script BEFORE making the short film? Because that to me is a big difference - reducing is a lot easier than expanding

D Marcus

I have the opposite problem, Dave. For me it's much easier to expand a short story than it is to reduce a long story.

Stuart Wright

Saw was financed and made on the strength of a ten minute short; berberian sound studio was born out of a 1min short

Dawn Johnston

I've done it, Jennifer. I wrote a short a few years ago but had the same feeling as you that it could be expanded. And a few of the scenes from my short made it to the final feature script almost intact. I think if you have an idea that's growing in your mind, then go for it!

Dawn Johnston

Nice interview here that might interest you, Jennifer. There's a bit at the beginning on how they turned District 9 from a short into a feature.

Jennifer Lynn

I'm more than determined and happy to get going on my rewrite ASAP! I really want to make this movie the best it can be. I hope sometime in the near future, I hope someone is interested! I loved writing it, it felt like it was due to come out soon. I feel like it was deep inside of ever since I was a kid. It was definitely close to my heart, and I'm willing to put the time and effort into making it the best! =)

Stacy Gentile

That's what they did with Whiplash ... and it won an Oscar.

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