From Short Film to Long Form
10 Keys to Success
Most short filmmakers see their work as a stepping stone, an opportunity to generate exposure. They want to advance their careers. Whether it’s a transition into features or the series format, short filmmakers look to film festivals to help elevate their careers.
A number of filmmakers position their shorts as more than just a calling card. They see their short as an investment, proof of concept, or a bet on the next version. They hope to parlay their short and festival success into a Feature version, or TV series.
There have been a number of examples of short filmmakers who managed to leverage this festival play into making successful features that would launch their careers. You will be inspired by the examples we share below, from Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket) to Damien Chazelle (Whiplash).
Short form content has also led to successful TV series, from Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) to Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso), helping to take them to the next level.
There are a few keys to this career transition. As you might imagine, it starts with the story, but there are a number of other elements that can help you get your project made, or certainly increase your odds. Here are 10 keys that will give you the best chance to succeed.
Yes, there are some variations, depending on whether you are developing a Feature Film or a TV Series, and I cover both below.
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1 - Logline
Sometimes called the “elevator pitch” a logline is a brief summary, typically one sentence, that states the central conflict of the story, often providing a streamlined synopsis of the story's plot.
For a TV Series, the logline pitches the series as a whole – the place, the situation, the ensemble of multiple characters and the main problematic situation that all will be part of and affected by.
2 - Synopsis
A movie synopsis is a brief summary of a completed screenplay's core concept, major plot points, and main character arcs. and a five-paragraph explanation of the film's storyline, major plot points, and key characters.
Erik Bork offers a free download of Free Guy (Feature) and Reboot (Series) here.
3 - Pitch Deck
There are many variations on these, typically sent out as PDF. Some present investment opportunities and multiple slides dedicated to Look and feel. In my opinion, the list below covers the key slides you need to include, with possible variations for different uses. Filmmakers can also create a Lookbook, which is more of a series of slides with graphics, photos and other illustrations to demonstrate the look and feel of the project.
Title Page with Cover/Poster
Look & Feel Imagery
Market Conditions & Target Audience
The TV version will often include a Series Bible, with more summary details of the show. You can share character arcs, plot developments, and the show's general direction for the first season and beyond. ScreenCraft shared a bunch of examples here.