A CERTAIN WAY TO MAKE A SHORT FILM – part 1 – The Idea and Screenplay

Welcome to my first ever attempt at a blog.

Although I’m new to blogging, I have managed to notice that some blogs have certain things in common, namely, a longer structure. That is why this blog will be an EIGHT PART SERIES – one that details the behind-the-scenes approach to making my final short-film for film school.

This 1st part is about the idea and screenplay and all the inspiration and deviation surrounding it.

“So, where to begin?” This is where conceptualizing an idea begins. For this project and most others, the first step I take in crafting an idea to look around me for what inspires or angers me. For some reason, it’s easier to write from a place of great emotion – this could be excitement and joy or even anger and sadness. For this project I decided to look inward and see what was rubbing my nerves, grinding those gears – really bugging me – and per usual, that was insomnia.

“Hey, let’s make a short-film about insomnia! It’ll be totally rad and unique, maybe even personally special.” – said the uninspired voice that can’t conceptualize anything greater.

So, with a dash of criticism, I journey into the idea. How do I actually make a short-film about insomnia new, refreshing or interesting? Hasn’t every filmmaker already taken a look at this? Where’s the drama, ya know? Why is the main character suffering from insomnia? Is he stressed out? Is the problem more existential? Could it be a stomach ache?

Boy, if I had a list of the films that have had a main character who was depressed and suffering from lack of sleep – I would have the straight to DVD bin at Walmart.

Quick question: What if the main character isn’t suffering from insomnia, but he is the one who is causing it? That sounds fun. That could work. Don’t get over confident Zakk. Onward we go.

… And onward I go outside into the wilderness. The bright sun hits my face as I sit upon my apartment’s porch. Out here, I have nature, which is filled with so many inspirations. Something about the ambiance of the birds and their lackluster approach to mating always opens me up creatively.

I think about the main character causing his own insomnia for a bit. Why would he do that? It must have been a mistake.

Ha, that bird really sounded like a sheep.

Wait a minute! That’s it!


The main character could be struggling with sleep, look at his clock go beep, maybe decide to count some sheep – and that’s when they animate to life and become some real shit talkers.


So, now that the idea is established, the writing and typing and re-typing process can begin.

It’s clear that this short will probably be something similar to a skit in terms of length and structure. Surely it will be in one location.

Please, Zakk, make this easy on yourself in the future and make this a one-bedroom skit.

“One location could be rather dull.” – said a bird.

This phase is also where I begin to make some jokes – most, if not all, are award winning material.

… And here I go again on my own – I take some of my hand-written notes and move to my computer, boot up the appropriate software, and the writing phase can begin.

This part is the hardest and most emotionally painful part of creating a short film – you really have to get into the mind of a character who is talking to sheep before bed. This can easily place a heavy burden on you psychologically.

This part can also be kind of boring as it’s mainly typing and relaying those grade-A jokes that you crafted earlier. Occasionally, things can become difficult – maybe the formatting of the screenplay software is being weird, maybe you are running out of jokes too quickly, maybe your fingers are cramping – I don’t know.

Either way, when things become challenging, consult the birds – they are helpful for that kind of stuff.

And this is where the first part of A CERTAIN WAY TO MAKE A SHORT FILM series comes to a close. I plan to turn this into an eight part series, so there is a lot of content left to sift through.

Anyways, thank you so much for reading! If you would like to hear more about my content, just hop on over to my socials:

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