Short Film Assignment / by Michael T Vollmann




  • Create a 2 to 4 minute film through interviews, voice overs, music and visuals, etc.



  • Can be a narrative or a documentary or experimental.
  • Topic is concrete; film should also explore a theme or larger idea
  • If narrative or documentary, try to focus on one main character
  • Around 30 shots (“b-roll”) to illustrate an interesting visual story.
  • Music and sound effects highly recommended.
  • Consider using a voice over (VO)
  • Consider using text
  • Consider using still images, historical images or “found footage” (pre-existing media)


Possible topics:    

  • Focus on a main character or “hero” on a journey, attempting to overcome an obstacle.
    • Example: Interview a family member about a personal story about one of the toughest challenges they have ever had, and how, or if, they overcame it.
    • Example: Create a film about a challenge you personally faced, (real or fictional) and how you attempted to overcome it. Could use VO, self-shot interview, or perhaps try documenting yourself as you attempt to conquer a new skill.
  • Using a collection of long takes, create an experiential and lyrical film.
    • Example: Shoot 30 “random” long takes and edit them to create a singular creative piece.
    • Example: Choose a poem, (or write a poem) and record a voice over. Shoot broll to accompany the voice over.
    • Find Inspiration from the Immediate world around you, including nature or art.



  1. Brainstorm idea, research/identify subject, etc.
  2. Write a short pitch or treatment. In one to two paragraphs (no more than 1/3 page single space) describe your film (story, characters, theme, etc.)
    • Is the concept original?
    • Who is your audience?
    • Could you explain your basic idea to a friend in once sentence? TEMPLATE: Someone (the protagonist) wants something (the story goal) and goes after it against great odds and/or obstacles (the antagonist and the conflict).
    • Why make this film now?
  3. Type up a pre-production packe
    • Arrange interview (subject, locations)
    • Compile a list of interview questions
    • Write a voiceover script or on screen text (as needed)
    • Create a list of shots (B-roll)
  4. Practice technology needed for shooting
  5. Shoot the video
  6. Rough Edit (Shooting may continue while you begin editing. This means putting the pieces in place to tell the story.
  7. Screen for fellow students and teacher to get feedback.
  8. Fine cut (trim, effects, color correction, transitions, titles, audio effects)
  9. Final Screening