How dialogue works in film – artistically speaking
What’s good dialogue? Words that efficiently express character and plot, while also drawing people into the drama or comedy of the situation.
Dialogue can be witty, erudite. Dialogue can reveal the subtext of motivations and desires for the characters.
But at a pragmatic level, dialogue is rhythm. A staccato back-and forth repartee delivered with speed and clarity can make the simplest words seem more intelligent, greater than the sum of their parts.
How you can use these short film screenplays – portfolio and career suggestions:
Whether you’re an actor or director, good dialogue makes your job easier and helps to spotlight what you bring to a filmmaking project. These three dialogues are short film screenplays written to be filmed easily, quickly, and on a budget. (They’re also very fun, if you care about having fun.) Post them online and build a following. Send them to potential collaborators and financiers. Most of all, enjoy! Life’s too short not to make films you enjoy.
Annnnd… here are the dialogue-driven screenplays!
Working Title of Dialogue #1: “The Last Word”
Dialogue #1 Synopsis / Log Line: In this dialogue driven short film, two people in a retail establishment–a customer and an employee working the cash register–find themselves competing to see who will have the last word.
This dialogue consists of short phrases and even single words, ready for the actors, director, and editor to shape into a rapid-fire, bantering rhythm.
Cast: 3 actors, 1 actress
Working Title of Dialogue #2: “The Kelli Badgett Fan Club”
Dialogue #2 Synopsis: Part of what makes comic dialogue effective is the actors’ ability to say the most absurd things with a completely serious face. And nothing is more absurd than an adolescent male obsessed with a pop starlet.
In this dialogue driven short film, the actors get to say ridiculous things. A skilled production designer also has room to show off, if that is your goal.
Locations: 5 (if executed literally as written)
Cast: 3 actors, 1 actress, 1 actor or actress
Working Title of Dialogue #3 (Showcasing 2 Actors): “Bright Future in Sales”
Something exciting comes from pairing two very different-looking people together onscreen. The energy between the actors can be more than the sum of its parts.
Log Line: In this comedic showcase of two talented actors, lessons in salesmanship pass between and older and a younger character.
The script also contains a musical montage of actual selling and hustle. This could be filmed in a documentary style, with the actors approaching people on the street who aren’t involved with the production. Be sure to get permission to use such footage, if you take that route.
Cast: 4 actors, 3 actresses (including 1 child!)
>> Get all of these short film screenplays (and others!), more location details, cast lists, and more in this affordable collection on Amazon: