How do you write a short film script without dialogue? There are plenty of reasons why someone might want to keep dialogue out of their short film from stylistic choices to technical limitations. In this post, we will walk you through all of the necessary steps to write a short film script without dialogue from research through execution.

How to Write a Short Film Script Without Dialogue

Step 1: Research dialogue-free films

If you endeavor to write a great short film script without dialogue, the best way to start is by researching successful examples of films that did the same thing. If you are new to writing shorts, it may be best to learn from the best short films in general, then studying dialogue-free short films in particular.

Geri’s Game and other Pixar shorts offer excellent examples of short films without dialogue. Obviously, animation and live-action are drastically different in execution, but the concept of an old man playing chess against himself could work just as well in live-action, and there are plenty of live-action applicable lessons to be taken from animated shorts.

Geri’s Game  •  Pixar short

The Black Hole is a great example of a short and simple, concept-driven premise. This short film tells a complete story with just one location, one character, and not a single spoken word. This simple premise works so well as a silent film because the character’s thought process and intentions are able to be clearly communicated purely through visual language.

The Black Hole  •  no dialogue short film script

It is important to keep the distinctions between short films and feature films in mind but there is plenty to glean from silent feature films as well. Cinema began in silence, so looking back to the golden-age of silent films is worthwhile research when preparing a short film without dialogue.

Crash Course in silent films  •  writing a silent film script

To see how silent films have changed as technology has improved, it is worth studying neo-silent films as well such as the work of South Korean director Kim Ki-duk or dialogue-free animated fare like the Shaun the Sheep Movie.

Shaun the Sheep Movie  •  Trailer

When you feel like you have a good understanding of the conventions of dialogue free films and have gathered enough inspiration, you are ready to move on to the next step.

How to Write a Screenplay Without Dialogue

Step 2: Generate Ideas

Every good script starts with a good idea whether incorporating dialogue or not. Hopefully, you had an idea in mind that led you to looking into how to make a short film, or the research step led to a spark of inspiration. It is a perfectly valid form of creativity to pull ideas from influences you admire and put your own spin on them. Find a new angle to explore a familiar idea from or craft a fresh story in a genre you love.

Places to find inspiration for short film ideas  •  write a script without dialogue

If you are struggling to come up with great short film ideas, it may help to try out our short film brainstorming techniques or to research ways to cure writer’s block. If you still just can’t seem to come up with a great idea for a short film script without dialogue, then consider teaming up with a writing partner, or searching the public domain for story ideas.

No Dialogue Short Film Script

Step 3: Write Your Script

Now that you have researched successful, dialogue-free film projects and come up with a winning idea, it is time to put that idea down on the page. Dialogue makes up a significant portion of the average screenplay but that does not mean that the screenplay is any less important for a short without dialogue. It is never a bad time to learn or refresh yourself on the fundamentals of screenplay formatting.

Screenplay Formatting 101  •  Subscribe on YouTube

A script serves as a blueprint for the film to follow. In a script without dialogue, it is extra important to ensure that the action lines are clear, concise, and that they communicate your vision for the story effectively. The visual exposition in a silent script must be excellent to ensure the story is understandable without having dialogue-driven exposition to fall back on.

When you are ready to get started, use StudioBinder’s screenwriting software. It is free to get started.

Up Next

How to Brainstorm Short Film Ideas

So, those are the steps to follow if you want to write a short film script without dialogue. If you are stuck in the idea generation stage or just want to come up with more interesting concepts, our list of ways to brainstorm short film ideas will prove useful. Download our brainstorming cheat sheet and learn about all the different ways to generate ideas that are able to be produced on small budgets, up next.

Up Next: How to Brainstorm →
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  • Sam Kench is an internationally-awarded screenwriter, independent filmmaker, and film critic. Lover of foreign films; hater of American remakes.

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