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The Short Screenplay: Your Short Film from Concept to Production 1st Edition

Dan Gurskis

  • Published
  • 248 Pages


With the growth of film festivals, cable networks, specialty home video, and the Internet, there are more outlets and opportunities for screening short films now than at any time in the last 100 years. But before you can screen your short film, you need to shoot it. And before you can shoot it, you need to write it. The Short Screenplay provides both beginning and experienced screenwriters with all the guidance they need to write compelling, filmable short screenplays. Explore how to develop characters that an audience can identify with. How to create a narrative structure that fits a short time frame but still engages the audience. How to write dialogue that's concise and memorable. How to develop story ideas from concept through final draft. All this and much more is covered in a unique conversational style that reads more like a novel than a "how-to" book. The book wraps up with a discussion of the role of the screenplay in the production process and with some helpful (and entertaining) sample scripts. This is the only guide you'll ever need to make your short film a reality!

Dan Gurskis,

Dan Gurskis has more than twenty years of writing and producing experience in film and television. He has worked on projects Columbia, Paramount, RKO, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Comedy Central, and the USA Network with collaborators as varied as the director Nicolas Roeg and Monty Python¿s Graham Chapman. In all, he has written more than thirty screenplays. Gurskis has won an Emmy Award and has been a Cable Ace Nominee, a Shubert Fellow, and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. He currently chairs the Department of Film at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.
  • Provides real world experience: the author is an Emmy Award-winner with over twenty years experience in screenwriting and film production.
  • This book is designed primarily for individuals aspiring to be hands-on filmmakers, not just screenwriters. That includes screenwriter-directors, screenwriter-producers, screenwriter-actors, or any other screenwriting hyphenate.
  • Offers practical advice rather than academic theory. Even big ideas are presented with a nuts-and-bolts approach for implementation.
  • Thousands upon thousands of short films are made every year. Only with a good screenplay can a film cut through the clutter. Helping the filmmaker cut through the clutter is the aim of this book.
  • Companion website available here:
What is a screenplay?
What is important in a screenplay?
The screenwriter’s skill set
The fundamentals of the short film
The four categories of short films: short-shorts, conventional shorts, medium shorts, long shorts
Film vs. theater
Film vs. television
Character and characterization
Putting your characters in charge of the action
What a character wants, what a character needs
Adding depth to your characters
Types of characters and their function
Secondary characters
The five forms of conflict
The three-part nature of screenplay structure: setup, rising action, resolution
The importance of cause and effect
The elements of a scene
Scene structure
Writing the scene
The goals of film dialogue
The characteristics of film dialogue
Writing effective dialogue
Structuring sentences and speeches
Dialect, slang, and insider speech
Generating ideas for a short screenplay
The development process
Creating a concept
Creating a synopsis
Creating a step outline
The first draft
Writing screenplays for non-theatrical films (podcasts, Internet only, mobile phone)
Production considerations for a short screenplay
Working with a director
Working with a producer
When the director or the producer is you
Conforming the screenplay to existing locations and budget limitations
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”
Permissions and legal considerations
Writing the shooting script
The standard industry format: the way a screenplay looks on a paper
Screenplay form: using language to suggest film images
What to avoid: directing on paper and acting on paper
Film grammar vs. English grammar

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  • ISBN-10: 1133772722
  • ISBN-13: 9781133772729
  • STARTING AT $14.99

  • ISBN-10: 1598633384
  • ISBN-13: 9781598633382
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $15.00
  • RETAIL $24.99