Normally, filmmakers write a short film before they write the feature script for the short film. They shoot it, cut it, and hope to god it gets a run in the festival circuit. But Damien Chazelle’s, Whiplash short film, was born in a unique way. The short script actually came after, and really, from the feature length Whiplash script. How did this happen? And because this happened, what can we learn from the short film vs feature? Let’s jump in.

Whiplash Short Film

Damien Chazelle changes course

Damien Chazelle had written the Whiplash screenplay well before he even considered making it a short film. In a MovieMaker Magazine post, we learn the script received a fair amount of buzz, and the feedback was generally pretty positive. 

But Hollywood passed because many producers just had a hard time seeing Chazelle’s vision. It wasn’t just some coming of age story about a jazz drummer. 

It was a film depicting a deep psychological pursuit for perfection. 

Chazelle made the short film to prove it.

This is an interesting concept for a screenwriter, or any filmmaker. When you’re trying to prove the quality and integrity of your feature script to agents and producers, is making a short film after you write the feature, a solid strategy? 

We’ll see that the Whiplash short film isn’t super flashy or special aesthetically, but the story is still there. It was realized ahead of time, and it shows. You can feel it. 

Watch below.

Watch to see how Chazelle went from short to feature

That’s a pretty great short film. 

If you notice, the only main differences are lighting, color correction, and more space for smoother camera movement. But overall, the writing and story are the same.

The edits are incredible all the way around, and it may be Chazelle’s fully realized script is what makes this short so powerful.

Something to consider for aspiring filmmakers...

Chazelle and cast looking back at Whiplash

Up Next

How to Write a Movie Script

The Whiplash short film was born out of a really great feature script. If you’re interested in getting a script to its completion, and to make moves in the industry, read the next article. It will go over all of the considerations when writing your feature-length screenplay. 

Up Next: How to Write a Movie Script →
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  1. I'm confused. So he got the cast – to make a short- before they shot the movie. Or he made a short form the movie already shot – with highly paid actors? I must be dumb n]=but please explain?

  2. My understanding is that, Damien wrote the full screenplay and, in order to get people to "see" his vision for what the full film could be, he excerpted a scene from the whole film that succinctl;y encapsulated the relationship between professor/student. A snapshot of what you would get with the full film. This is what they sometimes call a proof of concept––sometimes execs and funders need to see what the full vision could be before they feel confident to back up the full film. And, in the process, the short film can do well, pick up accolades, boost the filmmaker's profile, all of that! I suspect that, once he got financial backing for the film, he swapped out the short cast for a new slew of actors, except for the iconic J.K. Simmons.

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