David Kaminski, DV Film Instructor, New York
is a step-by-step guide to craft an award winning film without
going bankrupt. Full of insider knowledge, this offering
is a must for aspiring directors. A real one of a kind book
that should fill the gap and empower you in the process.
And you too will be able to shout from the top of your lungs:
The [Digital][Dispatch] Mag
Francisco filmmaker/digital flick queen Sherri Sheridan
shows the reader how to turn literary ideas, metaphors,
or philosophies into movies that can captivate their viewers.
In Part 1, she gives prescriptions for movie making. She
lists 40 plot points for feature films from the hook that
moves the viewer from the real world to the film world,
foreshadowing to prepare for the resolution, twists of plot,
revelation and epiphany, and resolution. Much of this is
in Shakespeare and, for that matter, in Sophocles. Still,
Ms. Sheridan takes inspiration in baby steps for her readers.
And she does it very well.
Part 2 of the book is about turning scripts into visions.
Part 3, the techno stuff, is about doing vision in digital
formats with computer-enhanced animation and special effects,
applications of 3D, and much more. One book isn't enough
make the next Steven Spielberg, but this one is a fine start.
Ms. Sheridan writes with experience and with an evident
desire to help her reader. Developing Digital Short Films
is an awfully good way to learn how to do it."
Andrew Allentuck, Globe Technology
is an excellent resource for teachers covering everything
you could possibly know about making short films!"
BC Media Educators Website Review
book has all sorts of useful information on how to make
a film. I'm doing a documentary right now and am using several
ideas straight from the project exercises in this book.
I never realized there were so many different ways to communicate
with an audience. Most people seem to overlook the planning
stages of filmmaking because they do not know where to begin.
I have been following along with the exercises in this book
and have gathered enough ideas for making 10 films! The
drawings are suppose to be rough as the author explains,
since they are just ideas at this stage. Great book for
students or people making films who need help thinking up
original ideas. I'm getting a lot out of this book and would
recommend it to anyone thinking about making a film! It
will save you lots of money too!"
Steven Greene, Atlanta, GA
friend told me to get this book when I told him I was having
problems nailing my film idea down. The section called "40
Plot Points For Feature Films" saved my deadline on script.
I was able to use many of the classic narrative techniques
listed in this book to construct a much tighter story visually.
Great book for anyone who has an idea for a film but does
not quite know how to present it shot by shot. Lots of valuable
information on how to get the audience involved in your film
emotionally. I'm using Final Cut to edit my film and found
the digital storytelling sections useful for how to give my
film an original look, that was fast and did not cost a bunch
of cash. Highly recommended!"
Randy Carlson, New York, NY
book focuses on the most important aspects of filmmaking...character
and story development... Without a strong original story and
characters nobody will care about your particle system and
fancy renders... I like this quote by Syd Mead "And finally,
don't assume that technique alone will save your ass. It still
is the idea that wins...every time. Remember that elaborate
technique and dumb story produces a demo reel, not a narrative."
Sheridan takes apart the traditional narrative structure of
successful films and allows you to put them back together
again using your original characters and plotlines. There
is a ton of material on scriptwriting and storyboarding, preproduction
is the most important phase of making a film and this book
is filled with preproduction information. This is must have
material! If you are planning to make your own short or feature
film buy this book! Trust me you won't be sorry! I could go
on and on but I have to work on my film! Good luck!"
M Dot Strange, San Jose, CA
book has proved invaluable to me as the coordinator of a first
year undergraduate course designed to introduce media students
to film and video, as well as multimedia skills. Sherri's
informal style of writing, coupled with her unpretentious
approach to sharing her own experiences as a digital film
maker, makes this an ideal text for first year students. This
book captures the spirit of the convergence between traditional
film and multimedia, and the countless examples and case studies
presented throughout the book are a great source of inspiration
While many of the concepts addressed in the book are not new
and have been adequately addressed in other texts, Sherri
describes these concepts in a way that is highly engaging,
and the comic book style illustrations appeal to a young audience
(as well as those of us who are not so young). Of particular
note are the chapters that deal with "generating new
ideas" (something first year media students find difficult),
"creating original characters, themes, and visual metaphors"
and "developing plot points", as well as the final
three chapters of the book that deal more specifically with
the convergence between film and video and multimedia.
Two of my lectures this semester were based on Sherri's analysis
of several popular movies, and the sections of those lectures
that focused on themes and also on the use of color palettes
in popular movies were real winners! Moreover, Sherri was
more than willing to communicate via email and made several
resources available to me as a teacher to address particular
When you purchase this book you are investing in a treasure
trove of teaching tips, techniques and resources. Sherri's
Website adds to the richness of these resources, and her commitment
to inspiring and motivating budding film makers is evident
in this book and Sherri's willingness to go the extra mile
to further such educational ideals.
Thanks Sherri for providing educators with such a powerful
set of teaching tools at a time when we are challenged to
meet the demands of a student population who need to be conversant
with both traditional and digital film making techniques.
Dr. Denise Wood, University of South Australia
I am Praveen Chrispugg, studying animation and filmmaking
in the UK. I bought this book recently. It is an excellent
book and leads me to many original avenues in the filmmaking
process. Every page in this book is precious for those who
want to learn filmmaking and preproduction. It has a step-by-step
filmmaking process along with exercises and encouraging quotes
related to subjects, which allow you to think in different
perspectives. My MA project is now based on this book. This
one book is enough for one to learn filmmaking. This has been
prepared by a professional in film industry. The author took
nearly three years to complete this book. She put all of her
experience and experiments into this book. "Developing
Digital Short Films" takes readers to a professional
level from an amateur one. I am highly recommending this book
to all filmmaking students and animators. Once you start reading
it, you won't stop.This is THE book we have all been waiting
Praveen Chrispugg, London, UK
"This book has more ideas on ways
to make a film than any book I have ever seen! The project
exercises really help keep the preproduction process on track.
Great for taking a rough idea and turning it into a film you
are proud to show. Reading this book for me, was the difference
between making a bad first film and making a deep work of
art. If you are making any film, you need this book!"
Shooter, Austin, Texas
have seen no other book with this type of information combined.
It helps with most aspects of pre-production in a thorough
manner. I would definitely recommend this book. "
D. Meltzer, Downers Grove, IL
bible for filmmakers everywhere! If you are making any kind
of film, or telling any sort of story, the information in
this book will make it better and deeper. There is a ton of
information on how to tell a VISUAL STORY, which none of the
other film books I've read cover in so much depth. The sections
on how to use visual metaphors and symbols really helped me
to understand how films tell stories using pictures and actions.
I've never seen a book with so much useful information packed
onto each page. There are 100's of lists of ideas for the
reader to choose from in a great step-by-step preproduction
process. The digital parts on storytelling are revolutionary
and really helped me see where I could use some simple techniques
to make my film more hip and original. Essential reading for
any independent filmmaker working in features, documentary
or shorts. I just love this book! Buy it - it will change
the way you think about making films on a micro budget."
A Reader From Amazon.com
Marvelous Book! I was browsing the movie section at the bookstore
two months ago and I came across your book... I began to read
bits of the book and within a matter of minutes had walked
to the counter and purchased the book. What a find you and
your book are!
I have been a director for 10 years, from music videos through
commercials to films. I shot my first hour long TV pilot last
year as a gun for hire and the experience woke me up to the
importance of telling my own stories. And I've just finished
my first "digital short film" two months after picking
up the book. I'd already written the script when I got the
book, but I rewrote it subsequent to reading the book, especially
the development chapters, which are my favorite.
Anyway. Long story cut short. Just a mail to tell you that
it's a very special book. I'm recommending it to everybody,
especially the people who think they know everything. I love
the richness and dense layers of information. I marvel at
what I get out of it. I wonder what a beginner gets out of
it. Did I say thank you? I'll send you a link when my movie
L. Roderick, South Africa
hoping to spend more time being creative - and less time being
frozen. I just picked up a fantastic book called "Developing
Digital Short Films". It's been a great read so far -
and in some ways has made me feel like I'm back in film school."
Vash, From An Evil_Blender Post
"A Developing Digital Short Film Success Story! In a
previous post I recommended the book "Developing Digital
Short Films" to help you develop ideas for films. One
of the reasons for there not having been a post for the past
few days is that I have been working through this book myself.
I can report that the exercises really do work - I now have
two ideas for my first short film, and that's from only the
first 50 pages !
am looking forward to taking both of these ideas through into
the next stage of development and will keep you all posted
on my progress. I cannot stress how impressed I am with this
- I have dithered and been unsure of how to come up with anything
other than a multi-million dollar epic myself for years, and
yet in a few days this book has brought me a couple of ideas
that are more practical for an indie filmmaker with next to
- Nigel Davies
some wonderful and affordable toys available to the Digital
generation there has never been a better time to make your
own short film. Now a lot of expense and time has been shed
by using digital cameras and good software with a high spec
PC. This book is aimed at those who want to take that step.There
are three main sections divided into eleven chapters and they
take you through the entire process. Section one is about
the building blocks such as plot, theme, brainstorming and
even pitching the idea. You then develop the characters, look
for themes and work out all the plot points before a script
is even mentioned. The second section is very much about visualising
the script with the organisational structure, storyboarding,
composition of shots as well as set, lighting and sound considerations.Section
three is about production styles, and that means effects,
bluescreen, animation and anything that defines the visual
Throughout there are mini clapperboards that give definitions
of terms used and there are also highlighted creative tips.
Every page is chock a block with line drawings, graphs and
tables. Color pages include color blocks forming a palette
and also stills from a work in progress. Occasionally there
are step by step numbers, but mainly there are just headings
and plenty of pithy advice.The sections on sound are very
good, and sound is often the last thing people are concerned
about when shooting something visual. Big mistake! Here the
authors point us in the right direction, whilst asking detailed
questions about our intent."
Movie Club News Book Review
deep into the worlds of fantasy, animation, and special effects
on a tight budget, this large-format volume is brimming with
hard information and inspirational insights.Although it falls
outside my personal interests, while reading through it I
was continually tweaked on how to write stronger conventional
screenplays, as it stresses both vision and sound in the context
of storytelling.The included CD ROM contains clips, tutorials,
and even a fully functioning demo version of Move Magic Screenwriter.
recommended for anyone with an interest in the genre."
Canadian Screenwriter Magazine, Book Review by Bruce McKenna
Sheridan takes you in her book Developing Digital Short Films
on a very spectacular trip through the most interesting design
topics in the film and animation production industry. While
moving through this interesting educational trip, you will
find Sherri stands out with her tips, proverbs of famous people
and exercises, which is the only way to fully digest the content
of the book. This practice opens your eyes widely to see your
favorite movies with a new vision. Every part of the film
will remind you of a concept or a principle Sherri has mentioned
in this book. Then you will realize how interesting this filed
is. And for sure, a dream to create your own movie comes to
As said, " This book will not make you Steven Spielberg,
but it is a good step to start with", this book gives
you a strong background in the field of animation. Not only
the people with an interest in working in the field of short
films can use this book, but also all those who work in the
filed of animation, including cartoons, web and digital animation.
It will give you the keys to add flavor to your animation
and create eye-catching ideas with the principles used in
the film production industry.
This book is divided into three parts that take you step by
step to create a complex idea, which are enhanced with the
exercises after every step. The first part (Digital Storytelling)
prepare you to create your own story and develop it to create
storyboards for your film, in this part you will learn the
concepts and principles of creating an interesting story and
develop it through its stages using its basic elements of
Plot, Character, and Theme.
After writing your story, Sherri takes you to the next step
in part two (Visualizing Your Script) which converts your
story into storyboards ready for production. In this part,
you will learn how to use film elements like cameras and locations
to deliver your story to the target audience. This part is
very important in learning the principles of filmmaking and
animation. However, it is important for all who works in the
The third part (Creating Digital Short Films for Different
Production Styles) is about using different techniques to
develop your film into the production phase applying all of
what you have learned throughout the book. This book provides
a great experience for all who work in the fields of films
production, cartoon and animation."
Rafiq Elmansy, Macromedia Review
was browsing www.peachpit.com and found sample chapters of your book Developing Digital
Short Films available there. I printed them out and read
them in the evening. I have read so many books on scriptwriting.
I personally own twelve different titles on the subject, but
reading your chapter on "Creating Original Characters,
Themes and Visual Metaphors For Your Digital Short
Film" made me realise that much of the other books had
touched on the subject, none had come even close to equipping
me with the step-by-step technique. I put aside the script
I was in middle of writing and went back to re-examine
my characters. The result was brilliant to say the least,
even though I say so myself. I believe I now have more dimensional
characters compared to what I was working on before. Needless
to say I ordered a copy of your book the very next day from
Amazon.com. It has taken them two weeks to get a copy but
I just got a message that they shipped it today. I can't wait
to read the rest of the book....I must add that I was
equally impressed with the sample chapter "Designing
Camera Shots," even though I've never been behind a camera
or directed a movie before.
From what I have read of your book it is going to be my closest
ally and resource in my new venture. My hat off to you and
may the force stay with you!"
after reading the book:
I just finished reading your book. ‘Great” doesn’t
really do it justice considering the fact that in America
everything is great. Reading your book is like a rollercoaster
ride with all the attendant adrenaline rush but without the
scares. You packed it with so much useful information that
every page literally made me pause and think as idea after
idea kept popping into my head in terms of how to structure,
restructure and augment my screenplay and characters. Even
to say I finished reading your book is really misleading because
I don’t think anyone can ever say that. Developing Short
Films is not a reading book but a reference manual. But it
is also more than just a reference: it is a writing and production
companion. A really great piece of work (not in the overused
American sense of the word)!"
Chris Mukkuli from Zambia
me get this out of the way right up front. I love this book!
This book is the most complete book on the topic that I've
seen so far. I've read a dozen books on script writing and
story development and another half dozen on film making. Sheridan
has created a one-stop resource. (I realize my previous study
may have prepped me to get everything in this book.) You can
use this book to create any kind of film, be it a real action
shot with a dv camera, or animation or any combination of
The book is divided into three parts, and each part has several
chapters. As each chapter addresses a topic, there are exercises
and projects to help you learn the topic lessons and develop
your first film as you go through the book. Part I is "Digital
Storytelling". She starts out by covering how to come
up with ideas for a film story. Her exercises will take you
through brainstorming and writing to come up with several
story ideas. Then she goes in depth with original characters,
themes and metaphors, including all of the elements that make
a good character and how to develop a character arc. She explains
what a theme in a film is and how to develop visual metaphors
that define characters. Part I ends with a great section on
plot points and how to add twists, turns and surprise to your
plot to keep it interesting.
In Part II, she shows you how to use the three-act structure,
create scenes and write a script. The CD-ROM includes a demo
copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter that is fully functional
and doesn't expire for producing short (40-pages or less).
If you follow her steps, you will end up with a script. Once
you have your script, she tells you how to shoot it, how to
make your shot choices, frame shots, and get the eye to go
where you want it in a scene. I was really impressed with
the section on how to design the color palette for your film
to create the mood you want. The book winds up with editing,
making the editing choices, adding in special effects, sound
effects, titles, etc. The CD-ROM also includes demo versions
of Adobe After Effects and Sonic Fire Pro. You can use the
latter to add music to your film. After going through this
book, I wanted to be like the people in the old 40s movies
"Hey, kids, lets make a movie!"
Victoria Maciulski, Book Review For Apple User Groups
are people saying about "Writing A Great Script Fast?"
is most useful screenwriting class I have ever seen with so many
ideas presented in an easy to understand way. It truly is a new
way to learn how to write a great script fast."
- David S., Filmmaker, New York, NY
A Great Script Fast is hands down the best screenwriting class ever.
If you do not have literally years to spend taking classes and reading
books about screenwriting, then this workshop is for you. I would
recommend it highly to any writers looking to rise up to a more
professional level fast."
- Michael C., Screenwriter, LA, CA
- Sid, Writer, Baton Rouge, LA
is exactly the way I like to learn, and I'm really enjoying this
DVD workshop. I can't imagine anyone who wants to be a screenwriter
not finding this visual training to be ideal. "
- Sandra, Teacher/Writer, CA
A Great Script Fast has really helped me in shaping my ideas.
Both on the macro level for story, and on the micro level for creating
- Bruce, Screenwriter, LA, CA
went to film school and they did not teach the subjects you are
teaching. Now that I am making a film, I understand how important
it is to know how to tell a visual story at every stage of production.
Writing A Great Script Fast is the best way to learn screenwriting
that I have seen."
- Jason, Animator, Canada
DVD Workshop should be required in every school for any kid or adult
who wants to make a living writing novels or movie scripts. Without
this type of information they will be lost."
- John G., Writer, New Jersey
my old screenplay idea through the whole 20 hour Writing A Great
Script Fast process and now it is finally ready to shoot. Thank
you for sharing this information."
- Joel S., Brooklyn, NY
is the only start to finish screenwriting class that gives you tips
every few minutes on how to make the film yourself using low budget
digital tools. Just watching the DVD's gives me hundreds of ideas
on how to create low budget animations and films. The story structure
information alone has given me the confidence to direct a team of
people through a long filmmaking process. "
- Andrew L., Filmmaker, London, UK
just wanted to express my thanks to you for writing Developing Digital
Short Films. That book is truly a gold mine! When I first decided
to make a short, I bought your book by sheer coincidence, and I
couldn't believe how your ideas and exercises changed my rough idea
into great characters and gave my story an arc. I read it cover
to cover in two days! For a complete novice like me with nothing
more than an idea and a bit of enthusiasm, that book had EVERYTHING
I needed to get a strong story on tape.
I've had absolutely no film training (except your book and a few
Robert Rodriguez commentaries), and friends of mine who had been
to film school, after watching pieces of my short, said, 'There's
no need for you to go to film school. You've done everything that
they would teach you there.' While I'm sure that's not entirely
true, it spoke volumes to me about the worth of your book. Nice
So now that I'm writing a screenplay and hitting some stumbling
blocks, I returned to the book (and MindsEyeMedia.com) and when
I saw your Write A Script Fast program, I knew it was the ONLY way
to go. Sorry if I sound a bit like a gushing fan, but it's a book
that resonates with me (even after many, many subsequent filmmaking
books) and is still my favourite after seven years! Thanks for putting
it out there.”
Jack J. – Australia
“Let me begin by stating that I am a produced writer with
another film in development. Two of my other screenplays have been
I watched several of the DVDs and read the workbook and found them
both to be packed with useful information that writers at any stage
of their career can benefit from.
Perhaps what is most useful is the number of ideas that the course
gives to stimulate your own imagination. It helps you come up with
great ideas for stories and helps you to develop well-rounded characters
and more interesting plots. For example, one of my favorite sections
so far is the list of 142 plot twists that you can adapt for your
own story. Any one of them, well-employed, can set your story off
in a new and exciting direction. Imagine if you used a few more.
The course covers so many of the essential elements of writing a
great script: coming up with story ideas, creating memorable characters,
how to effectively use the three act structure, where to place the
major beats of your story (something that producers look for) and
so much more.
I highly recommend this course. That's all for now. I want to go
watch another one of the videos.”
- Danek Kaus, Silicon Valley, CA