Initial Research // Short Films Part

6 – Short Screenplay Writing
By Myles Egan
Key Questions About Writing a Good
Short Film Screenplay:
Examples we are given are:

1. Who is the protagonist?
2. What is the active question, which is the basis of the action
in film?
3. Who or what opposes the protagonist?
4. From whose point of view is the audience being shown the
5. What is it about? or, What is the theme?
6. What is the style of the film?

The Protagonist: 1
1. Who is the protagonist?
It explains just how important and vital the protagonist is to the story and even
described as the heart of the story. It gives examples of films and showing us different
way’s to use them and how the story doesn’t always need to be shown form their point
of view. For example, in ‘Zinky Boys Go Underground’ (1999) the story of an
Afghanistan war veteran is from the point of view of the protagonists younger sister.

2. What is the active question, which is the basis of the action in film?
This question can also be thought of in terms of what does the protagonist want? But
this being the starting point of an idea can be tricky, so therefore it is more important
to think about the action of the film and what you want the audience to be interested
in within the film. However, the answer to this question varies; As in ’The Curious’
(1994), the aim was for the audience to share the protagonist's curiosity about the
strange young woman at the window, compared to ’Deep Down’ (2002), which wanted
the audience to share the woman's obsession with her mother's dress. Although, the
key part to this question is deciding on an incident that will create the foundation of
the film and build the story towards a climax. As seen in films such as ‘Yellow’ (1998)
and ‘The Cutter’ (1992). However, other films such as ‘Zinky Boys Go Underground’
(1999) and ‘Springing Lenin’ (1992) requires more narrative time, but the narrative still
focuses on a key moment/incident.
The Protagonist: 2
3. Who or what opposes the protagonist?
It talks about the importance of making sure that the audience knows
why a character is reacting in a certain way for example key areas that the
audience must understand when building the bigger picture for them and
being able to come to a resolution for them, they must understand why a
character isn't able to deal with certain situations, why they are forced to
do something different and why they behaving against their normal way
of reacting. Authenticating and appropriating this across to the audience
is critical when developing an engaging story-driven narrative.

Point of View and Theme
4. Whose point of view is the audience being shown the story from?
It tells us how important narration and narrators are. As when showing the
audience who’s point of view you are representing it from, you need to be able to
include background information about the character in order to create an
authentic in-depth character that the audience can adopt a sense of familiarity
with by the character having a clear identity through their style, personality and

5. What is it about? or, What is the theme?
The theme within the film is the key ingredient in order to play with the audiences
feelings and emotions, it is the ingredient that creates the drama in the film and
so is very important the message and unfolding of the story. Themes can
sometimes be complicated and a lot od the time are only thought of/found
after/during the creation of the first screenplay draft.

Style and Tone
6. What is the style of the film?
The style of film is described as an important aspect in the way in which a
film can address the audience and the look/style of the film is critical to
providing a clear cohesive bond between the visuals and narrative,
therefore it is particularly important within short films. The tone is also very
important, as it is the tone within the work that engages with the emotions of an
audience. Tone also creates a key representation of the characters and their