Believe it or not, not only was an earlier version of this season’s latest breakthrough TV series a short film, it is far from the only show that started that way. Who says your short script has to be an end in itself?
ALTERNATE ROUTES: Using Short Films to Develop Your Stories
by Marty Lang
Every now and then, I’m lucky enough to find a movie or television show with a new storytelling voice that blows me away. I had a moment like that last week when I watched the pilot of the new Showtime series SMILF. The half-hour dramedy, written, directed and produced by lead actress Frankie Shaw (MR. ROBOT), is a hilarious, fearless story about a single mother in South Boston, and her struggles to balance motherhood, family, career and a fulfilling sex life. It really hit me as something with a singular vision.
After digging online, I was surprised to learn that SMILF started as a short film. Shaw also wrote, directed and starred in the short, which tells the story of a single mom trying to have sex with her boyfriend – while her baby sleeps next to them in the same bed. The film won the 2015 Short Film Jury Award at Sundance, which got Showtime’s attention, leading to the show. And it all came from Shaw taking matters into her own hands.
“I think make opportunity for yourself, if that’s something you’re inclined to do, for sure,” Shaw said to Variety. “I discovered that my biggest passion was for directing, so in making opportunity for myself, I found what I like doing the best.”
This is just the latest example of the possibilities writers and filmmakers can create for themselves by making short films. You can use a small, single story to explore a world you’d like to tackle in a bigger format, and with a little luck, get the opportunity to create in that format….