Let’s be honest: Why Isn’t Your Short Film Working?

Creating a short film is a challenging yet rewarding process, but sometimes, despite your best efforts, it just doesn’t bang or achieve the impact you envisioned. In this article, we dive into key points to consider when evaluating why your short film may not be resonating with the audience as intended.

Story Structure:

One of the fundamental aspects of any successful film is its story structure. Does your short film have a clear and engaging narrative arc? Are the characters well-developed? Does the plot flow seamlessly from beginning to end? Take a critical look at your story structure to ensure it captivates and sustains the audience’s interest.

Not sure where to start regarding the story? Koby Adom has a fantastic masterclass to drop you the fundamental aspects of story which is made up of a formula he doesn’t deviate from. Drop him a dm on Instagram to find out when he’s next running it but in the meantime you can also read two very fundamental books: Save The Cat and Story by Robert McKee

Limited Feedback:

Were you the sole evaluator of your script or short film? It’s crucial to gather feedback from a range of perspectives. Share your film with others, especially those who are not directly involved in the project, to gain fresh insights. Constructive criticism can pinpoint areas for improvement that may not be apparent to the creator. In this talk at Our Stories Festival, Jon Petrie (People Just Do Nothing, The Office and also the Director of Comedy Commissioning at BBC) said that he goes into an edit with atleast 3 people because ‘you don’t know what’s funny’, take note.

Casting Choices:

Have you really cast the best people for the roles in your short film? Sometimes budgets are tight and it’s easy to get that family member that acts but are they really able to play the lead??? Sometimes the success or quality of a film really hinges on the actors’ ability to bring their characters to life. Really push for the best casting choices you can with the resources you have to ensure that each role is played by the best person you can get – You’ll be happy in the long run.

Team Competence:

A cohesive and competent team is essential for the success of any film project. Do your team members understand their roles and responsibilities? Lack of communication or expertise within the team can result in a disjointed production. When things get a bit tight or you’re running out of time, this where this will can be exposed so ensure everyone is really on the same page and possess the necessary skills to contribute effectively.

Editing Quality:

Editing is where your project really comes together… or falls apart.

Is the edit of your project compelling and seamless, or does it leave the audience confused or disengaged? A poorly edited film can undermine even the strongest story. Invest time in refining the editing to enhance the overall viewing experience. Feel like you’re ready to export the final draft? Send it to a few people to evaluate and get their thoughts!

Extra point: The pacing of your short film plays a crucial role in maintaining audience interest. Ensure that the tempo of the narrative align with the story you’re trying to tell and remains engaging.


Creating a successful short film requires attention to detail across various aspects of filmmaking. By critically assessing the story structure, seeking diverse feedback, making thoughtful casting choices, ensuring team competence, and refining the edit, you can address potential issues and elevate your short film to its full potential. 

Always remember, filmmaking is a collaborative art, and success often lies in the collective effort of a dedicated and skilled team.