What makes a great short film? Four ways to make your stories shine!

What makes a great short film? I recently thought about three of my favourite short films and decided to dissect the reasons why they work so well.

The reason I decided to do this is because I’m currently writing up the curriculum for two online courses I am creating. I want to break down how to tell a emotive story using video.

My three favourite short films

I found these films through my own passions – filmmaking, nature and surfing. But what they all have in common is that they caused an emotional response in me and a desire to watch them again and again and again to try and unveil their mastery.

Steven Dempsey’s film ‘An Uncluttered World’ about appreciating nature


Darius Deva’s film ‘Creating Within – An incredible journey inside waves’ about suicide, surfing and the important things in life.

Mickey Smith’s film ‘Dark side of the lens’ about the ocean and vocation.



Four reasons these films work!

1)Tight storyline

All three of these films are tightly scripted. There is an intelligent, poetic use of words that appeals to our higher selves. There is no fat, each word, each sentence adds to the ambience of the story

2) Flow

Original soundtracks are used in each film. The choice of music and editing pace lures you into another world. Try listening to each of these films without the imagery, the sound works as stand alone. Each filmmaker understands that the vibrations of sounds influence our emotions. In a world full of digital noise, commanding you to buy this and buy that, these films gently lead you by the heart strings, into a softer, more gentle worldview.

3) Vulnerable Honesty

You can’t really expect to garner an emotional response in your films if you don’t reveal a little about yourself, show a bit of vulnerability. Each of these filmmakers honestly reveal a truth they hold onto, raw and real.

4) Gratitude

Each filmmaker communicate what they appreciate. They make us see a beauty in the world.
Their passion shines through. We come out of the journey feeling better.

If you would like to learn more with regard to how to tell compelling stories with video, please visit our course page and sign up for email updates.

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