When do we usually see video cameras?  Weddings, birthday parties, school and sporting events come to mind.  Now ask yourself this, “How often do you actually sit down to watch these videos?”   How often can you get someone else to watch?  Are these videos interesting?  Do all those long, continuous shots, wild moves and dizzying zooms make for compelling viewing?  Do you understand why they call it “amateur video” on the news?  This is because most people use their home video cameras to document an event rather than tell a story.

Here’s where you come in.

Required Documents

Treatment  | Storyboards | Shot ListRubricDirector’s Slate |

The AFI Challenge

A person is about to open a door.  The person hears a sound and becomes mildly concerned.  The person finds the door locked and searches for his or her keys.  The person hears the sound again and becomes visibly apprehensive.  As the filmmaker, your goal is to build tension and growing panic, using any visual element or device that you can think of.

The person finally opens the door and gets to the other side safely.  We hear a huge sigh of relief.


Create a treatment, shot list and storyboard for your short film.  Once you have storyboarded the scenario above, think of a creative, entertaining or surprising new ending for the scenario.  The entire film must follow the original script until the character opens the door. From that point on, you are on your own!  Also, write a detailed description of your new ending.


    • Each person in your group has will create their own storyboard.
    • You must have at least five different shots.
    • Every detail must be included in your storyboard.  It must be so visually clear that a stranger, unfamiliar with the scenario, could take your storyboard and shoot the film exactly as you visualized it when creating your storyboard.
    • You may write descriptions for each storyboard panel to help with your screen direction.   However, as much as you can, try to communicate the information visually.  Use your written descriptions to scaffold your visuals, not replace them.

Share, Reflect, Revise

In your original production teams, pitch your storyboards to one another. Be prepared to defend your creative choices. Why is it the cleanest, most entertaining and emotive storyboard in your team? At this point, your team has two options:

1. Select one of your team member’s storyboards to be filmed.

2. Create a new storyboard to be filmed.


For the first part of the film (this part that is the same for everybody):

  • Neither the character nor the audience ever sees the source of the sound.
  • The character hears the noise before getting to the door and while nervously trying to open the door
  • The film can only have one actor.
  • The film may not exceed 90 seconds.
  • The majority of the film must take place within five feet of either side of the door.


None, this will be an in-camera edit.


Each production team screens its finished film for the entire class for feedback.

  • Did the film communicate the script?
  • Did it communicate the rising tension and relief?
  • What could you shoot differently?
  • What would make your film more understandable?
  • What would give your film more emotional impact?

Submission to Drop Box

  • Individual edit
  • Start on black, end on black
  • Production company title card
  • Titles and credit
  • Music and sound effects



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