For the past hour and a half, I have been sitting typing up a screenplay for a short film under the working title of "The Night Watch". Last week I designed a character based on a British soldier from the Second World War, on paper and as a Plasticine maquette. I liked this character and decided to maybe develop him further into a short film. My idea is kinda inspired by old British thriller movies from the 30's/40's and is set on an old lighthouse during the war. This soldier character is stationed at this lighthouse and on one stormy night, hears something thud against the door. Obviously I don't want to give too much away, but as a first film, I want to keep the story simple and not too complex. I already know that the film will have two set-pieces, both the two floors of the lighthouse, as-well as an exterior lighthouse miniature which could actually be combined with the interior set. I don't think the film requires any dialogue as the action will all be performed through the physical performance, as well as background music/sound effects. I know its a bit early to think about these things, but as a first short film, it'd be nice to keep this one maybe around 5 mins long - short but entertaining.

Let me know what you guys think! Over the last few years I've had many ideas for shorts but they never seem to get anywhere, maybe I'm being a bit too ambitious with them. 

Attached is the maquette and original drawing I made of the soldier character.

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Sounds good - and practical, too, with the limited number of characters and sets!

Good character, like both the drawing and the maquette.

I'm wondering, is the soldier all on his own, or is there a lighthouse keeper, and he's there to guard the lighthouse?  Don't answer if you want to keep that to yourself for now.  (In fact, telling too much can sometimes use up the energy that would have gone into making the film - by the time you've told the story to a few people, it's like you've already made it, and your interest can peter out.)  But if he's on his own, that quite naturally takes away the need, or opportunity, for dialogue.  I really like dialogue-free short films, it's the form that comes most naturally to me, and I like the challenge of telling the story clearly in pictures. 

Sounds like an hour and a half at the keyboard well spent!  I say go for it!

Sounds promising. I'm also wondering why the soldier should be at the lighthouse. Could you not just make him into a lighthouse keeper? Or have some special reason or circumstance that causes him to be there - e.g. shipwreck???

There's a great book called Ideas for the Animated Short. It's full of suggestions and ways of structuring stories and might be very helpful for you.

I see what you mean, maybe thats a better idea changing him to a lighthouse keeper. I thought having it set during WW2 would give the story a moodier atmosphere. Main inspiration was from this old 1940's thriller about a mad lighthouse keeper, really enjoyed it.  Thanks for your input :) .

Simon Tytherleigh said:

Sounds promising. I'm also wondering why the soldier should be at the lighthouse. Could you not just make him into a lighthouse keeper? Or have some special reason or circumstance that causes him to be there - e.g. shipwreck???

There's a great book called Ideas for the Animated Short. It's full of suggestions and ways of structuring stories and might be very helpful for you.

Hey Nick. Glad you like the idea. The soldier character came from a sketch I made, just out of nowhere. I really liked where it was going so I decided to try sculpting him. As for the reason for him being there, I only really had him stationed there to keep watch but I might do a little bit more research into other reasons why. Definitely keeping the dialogue to a minimum, maybe a few grunts/groans but thats about it. Still working on an ending, really challenging coming up with something that creates an impact on the viewer, something with a twist. Cheers, input much appreciated! :)

StopmoNick said:

Sounds good - and practical, too, with the limited number of characters and sets!

Good character, like both the drawing and the maquette.

I'm wondering, is the soldier all on his own, or is there a lighthouse keeper, and he's there to guard the lighthouse?  Don't answer if you want to keep that to yourself for now.  (In fact, telling too much can sometimes use up the energy that would have gone into making the film - by the time you've told the story to a few people, it's like you've already made it, and your interest can peter out.)  But if he's on his own, that quite naturally takes away the need, or opportunity, for dialogue.  I really like dialogue-free short films, it's the form that comes most naturally to me, and I like the challenge of telling the story clearly in pictures. 

Sounds like an hour and a half at the keyboard well spent!  I say go for it!

Setting during WW2 definitely sounds good. I wonder if instead of a lighthouse, the soldier might be stationed at one of those concrete observation posts that were built around the coast? (This could be near a lighthouse - but observation posts try to be hidden, and lighthouses want to be seen!)

There was a command post and a system of depth charges installed in Carrick Roads, Falmouth. The command post still exists at Pendennis Castle. The idea was that if an enemy gunboat came into the area, a button could be pressed to detonate the depth charge nearest the boat. Might help....!

Also, lighthouses attract unwanted Rhedosauruses...

Haha very true!

StopmoNick said:

Also, lighthouses attract unwanted Rhedosauruses...

Ah yes. The only thing about those posts is the fact that there is not much space inside them. I wanted to have character being trapped up in the lighthouse, whilst the unknown thing lurks downstairs. Something like that anyway, still trying to figure out how to reach a good climax. Thanks for the suggestion. 

Simon Tytherleigh said:

Setting during WW2 definitely sounds good. I wonder if instead of a lighthouse, the soldier might be stationed at one of those concrete observation posts that were built around the coast? (This could be near a lighthouse - but observation posts try to be hidden, and lighthouses want to be seen!)

There was a command post and a system of depth charges installed in Carrick Roads, Falmouth. The command post still exists at Pendennis Castle. The idea was that if an enemy gunboat came into the area, a button could be pressed to detonate the depth charge nearest the boat. Might help....!

Think I'm getting writers block now haha.

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