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In March 2021, Action On The Side ran a virtual Work Experience for Level 3 Media students. This article has been written as part of that, by Alex D.

Are you a beginner filmmaker? Are you not that good at knowing what works and what does not work in a short film? Well, this is the article for you!

Here are different things I have learned while watching 10 different psychological thriller short films! (Take notes, you’ll need them)

Let us begin with the basics, what is a Psychological Thriller?

Psychological Thriller is a subgenre of Thriller which goes in-depth about two or more different characters' minds and emphasises their emotional state. These characters are most likely…unstable. Psychological thrillers often incorporate elements of mystery, drama, action, and horror, particularly psychological horror, usually seen in both films and books.

If you want to see some amazing Psychological Thriller short films then check this Letterboxd Playlist made just for you! Here are some Psychological Thrillers you can watch!

How can you use mental health in a Psychological Thriller?

There are a different variety of ways you can use mental health for your work and how you can present it flawlessly.

The top mental disorders used most are; agoraphobia, anxiety, split personality, or paranoia. Your audience should know what mental disorder your character has or at least have some idea of what disorder it is.

An example would be this short film INSiDE (2002), which includes Psychological Thriller, Horror, and Mystery, directed by Trevor Sands, starring Jeremy Sisto. This short film demonstrates Split Personality effortlessly and also makes the audience understand what it could be like in the mind of someone who has this disorder. This would be one of the hundreds of possibilities for portraying someone with a mental disorder.

You can use mental health by focusing the whole film around one disorder or even have a character state what mental illness this is, this is so the audience has an understanding of what the story is going to be based around. For example, at the beginning of INSiDE, you can hear a voice that mentions how the main character has multiple personality disorders (MPD).

How can you use sound to make your film more interesting?

Sound is an important characteristic of your film, without it I guess it would just be a silent film, which is also good! If you do it properly...

If you want to make the sound as good as possible for your film make sure to add background noise, this could vary from scene to scene. For example, if you are outside then add the sound of birds or wind. Although, if you are in a hospital or mental asylum then add the sound of faint screaming and banging or even beeping to portray life support to make the audience feel like they are involved.

This can be presented in the short film DEMENTED (2016), Directed and Written by Callum Thompson.

Callum Thompson had written and directed this story so well, the plot was good. If you are going to make a short film I would recommend taking notes from this short film

How to not make a Short Film

Please, please, please do not make it clichéd and expected, if you are going to do this at least make it work, add a significant plot twist (which the audience would not be expecting).

A short film that I think is cliche lacked excitement and was unnecessarily prolonged for no reason. I have to admit the storyline is good although it was not portrayed properly. Here, find out for yourself. It is fine, don’t worry I’ll wait here until you finish.

See? It could have been way better. Here I will say what went wrong.

The beginning had gone on for way too long, I lost interest in the first ten seconds of waiting for this car to pass. I could have walked there faster than that car got there.

We had to watch him go down this same road over and over just to see some head-seizuring man in the back of his car. Very expected.

What I did not expect is seeing the man who was driving at the end to be the one outside, although there is no real story there which they portrayed, there was barely any psychological thriller

For a film that is set at 10:48 pm or 22:48 pm it does seem pretty bright outside, right? If you do not believe me, go back to the video and go to 5:58... Maybe it was meant to be like that, who knows?

It is a good story although it should not need to be explained to you, it should be pretty self-explanatory

Where 👏 Was 👏 The 👏 Plot

If you've enjoyed reading this article then I'm sure you'll enjoy doing this short questionnaire!

Click HERE to do a short questionnaire.

As a lot of films would say...

To Be Continued...

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