From Story to Screen: Producing a Professional Short Film
4.4 (265 ratings)
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From Story to Screen: Producing a Professional Short Film

Step-by-step guide to producing a professional short film you can be proud of.
4.4 (265 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
11,077 students enrolled
Created by Vicki Lau
Last updated 7/2017
English [Auto-generated]
Price: Free
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 2 Articles
  • 6 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Identify and develop their story idea
  • Plan for pre-production, production and post-production
  • Know how to fully develop a professional short film with proper documentation and professionalism
  • Know what are the differentiating details between an amateur short film and a professional short film
View Curriculum
  • A Story Idea for a Short Film
  • Passion and Good Follow-Through
  • Pen and Paper OR Digital Notebook
  • Microsoft Word and Excel

How do you start from an idea and 1 you to 40+ crew members, and with more than 10,000 audience members and viewers of your short film?

If you aspire to make a short film that is not just going to be unseen, this course will reveal the steps, tips and tricks to making a professional short film that goes beyond the amateur film space and into the limelight of being seen.

Learn How to Create Your Short Story from Scratch, Avoid the Mistakes Made by Amateurs.

Learn through my very own directorial short debut sample The Painter (2013) on the extra steps and care that goes into creating a professional short production, as well as detailed production information you may need, to eventually work on bigger productions of your own.

Why This Course?

  • Taught by someone who used to be in your position, but has amassed 40 crew members out of nowhere, screened at multiple film festivals, all this, being just her first directorial debut short film
  • Step-by-step guide with actual production information and documents used
  • Detail insights and know-hows that would save you time and money when producing on a shoestring budget
  • Networking and open collaboration opportunities with instructor and students


Learn How to Become the Professional Short Filmmaker Everyone Wants to Work With.

You will Learn How:

  • To develop your own story idea
  • To plan for development and pre-production
  • Storyboards, budgeting and documentation come together
  • Find your cast and crew with little to no budget
  • Film insurances work
  • To shoot and wrap-up production
  • To plan for visual effects and sound in post-production
  • To plan for your short film release

Complete with additional resources, and a fun and engaging teaching style, students who complete the course will also be awarded with a bonus section - kind of like that bonus clip you sit through the entire credit roll at the end of a film.

If you participate in this course, you will walk away becoming more enlightened and empowered with these new insights and knowledge on how to professionally produce your own short story idea in your head to the silver screen.

The best part of it all - this course is utterly and ridiculously FREE.

Who is the target audience?
  • Film students and graduates
  • Professionals from other industries looking to make their own short films
  • Aspiring or new filmmakers and producers
  • NOT for seasoned independent film professionals who have been in the industry for at least 5 years
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Curriculum For This Course
37 Lectures
Your Story Idea and Development
7 Lectures 14:14

Introduction to the course, course goals and how the course is structured to see if this course meets your expectations and goals as a student. Regardless of where you are in your current skills for filmmaking, this course appeals to both the beginner and the intermediate with new insights, information and tips to getting your film started.


Introduction to the instructor as well as an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and your story to tell, to the community. Learn why the instructor is qualified and the best option to be guiding you through your very own short film production journey.

Who am I and Who are you?

Brief overview to identifying the story idea you are most passionate about and how to develop it into a short film. Learn the basics of what makes a short film and the kind of stories that fit the short film format.

Your Story Idea

Insights on creating memorable characters as well as tools to help you develop multi-dimensional characters. External samples are provided to give you more variety of the different tools and styles of character development activities done by professionals to create their stories.

Character Development

A look into what makes an outline and treatment and how you can use them to develop your story and script. External samples and live samples included to illustrate the differences between the outline and treatment and how each help to create and craft your story idea.

Outline and Treatment

A look into anticipating the project timeline and schedule for the entire short film production from pre-production to post-production and the beginnings of planning your time. The importance of pre-planning even before pre-production cannot be overstated and this lesson is where you learn about the importance of story complexity versus practicality.

Pre-Production Planning - Timeline

A look into anticipating project crew, cast, locations and other resources required for the entire short film production from pre-production to post-production and where to start looking. With insights from the previous lesson, learn how complex and practical your short film is before even forking out cash or spending considerable time in pre-production.

Pre-Production Planning - Crew, Cast, Locations and Other Resources

Your Story Idea and Development
3 questions
11 Lectures 26:46

Introduction to the pre-production phase and what this phase generally involves as a filmmaker and a producer. Pre-production is the most important phase of any film production - make it to the end of this section in order to have a good understanding of all the details involved in planning for a shoot.

What Makes Pre-Production

Brief overview to writing a proper short film script in industry and professional standards. Learn how the development of character bios, outlines and treatments lend themselves to easing the script-writing process for your short film. Sticking to strict script formatting is key to being treated as a professional filmmaker, producer and writer.


A look into the importance of storyboards and how to create proper storyboards and concept art that is useful. Explore different styles of storyboarding and concept art and how it fits into the overall style and genre of your short film, as well as learn how useful visuals are when sharing your vision with cast and crew.

Storyboards and Concept Art

Tips on creating a professional production budget sheet, budgeting and general accounting of costs and expenses in a short film. Explore in detail, the budget summary, breakdown as well as expenditure tracking all in one or two Excel sheets.


Tips on creating professional production and shooting schedules and the art of scheduling for a short film. External samples included to illustrate how these documents are all customizable to suit your own individual production and story needs.

Production and Shooting Schedules

A look into cast and crew contracts for your short film casting and crew staffing. Contracts help enforce accountability and (hopefully) prevent flakes. In addition to being a vital step in any professional production, it also gives you the information you need for end credits and other uses.

Cast and Crew Contracts

Tips on finding all your necessary crew members and the right cast for your characters, including actions taken by the instructor to amass 40+ crew members for her short film production.

Finding Cast and Crew

Tips on finding the locations that fit your story and the importance of different types of location scouts. Learn the different types of location scouting and how to use your limited resources to find the best locations that fit your short film.

Finding Locations and Scouting

Brief overview to production design and prop preparation work and materials required, including sample documents and exclusive behind-the-scene images from the instructor's own short film production design prep process.

Production Design and Prop Prep Work

Brief overview of temp and rough draft of visual effects both as a planning tool for production and as a preparation step to the final look of the visual effects. Pre-planning for visual effects in the pre-production phase differentiates a professional filmmaker from an amateur where visual effects is an after-thought.

Temp and Rough Draft Visual Effects

Brief overview of necessary (or not) film insurance for certain types of production, cast or crew cases, including real film insurance document samples used in the instructor's short film. An explanation of how insurance works is also included in this lesson for those new to the insurance process.

Film Insurance

3 questions
5 Lectures 07:40

Introduction to the production phase and what this phase generally involves as a filmmaker and a producer. Production is always what most people look forward to when making a film. In this section, learn proper set etiquette, the subtle things to look out for on set, as well as the on-the-fly planning required whilst working on set.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Insights on creating and using call sheets and shot lists on set. External samples on call sheets and shots lists are included, including templates for your own personal learning and use. The basics of a call sheet and shot list are also covered.

Call Sheets and Shot Lists

Brief overview of what goes on during principal photography and how to be prepared for the shoot. Set etiquette and what is expected on set is also covered in this lesson, using the instructor's short film behind-the-scene production photos as examples.

Principal Photography

Brief overview of what pick-up shots are and how to prepare for pick-up shoots. The basics and layout of how to plan for pick-up shoots are also covered in this lesson, differentiating itself from your typical principal photography process.

Pick-Up Shots

A look into wrapping up after production, including returning equipment and preparing for post-production. Proper wrap-up etiquette, expectations and actions from the producer or director are also covered in this quick lesson.

Wrapping Up Production

3 questions
6 Lectures 13:00

Introduction to the post-production phase and what this phase generally involves as a filmmaker and a producer. The most time-consuming part of production, by the end of this section, you will be able to understand all the creative and technical elements that go into finishing your short film.

We'll Fix it in Post?

A look into using scripty notes from production for continuity and editing. Using real examples of scanned notes from the instructor's short film, learn what a daily log sheet is and how it is used on set as well as in post-production.

Continuity and Scripty Notes

Brief overview of editing a rough cut with temp visual effects to getting a final cut of your short film for final visual effects and post-production sound-editing. Includes an animatic example created in pre-production to show the timed sequence and expected effects in a short film.

Rough Cut with Temp VFX to Final Cut

A look into creating and finishing visual effects shots in post-production for your short film. Explore the process of post-production visual effects, the importance of documenting visual effects shots and a real example of a completed visual effects shot.

Visual Effects Post-Production

A look into using Foley sound, editing and polish in post-production for your short film. Explore different ways to create sound for your film and hear a real example of an audio recording captured on set, and how it can be used in your short film.

Foley Sound and Sound Post-Production

A look into adding music, hiring or managing composers or using royalty-free tracks from software for your short film. Explore different ways to get music on your short film, and listen to examples from three composers and how the instructor determined which composer to work with, based on the style of her short film.

Music Composition

3 questions
Showcasing Your Short Film
4 Lectures 06:14

Introduction to showcasing your story and your short film to the masses. By the end of this section, you should be able to reap the benefits of having completed your short film, and start sharing your masterpiece with everyone.

It's Show Time!

A look into film festivals and how you can use film festivals to get your short seen by an audience. The lesson covers what may be expected in short film submissions and how to improve your chances of selection by selecting the right film festivals, including examples from the instructor's own short film submission entries and selections.

Film Festivals

A look into using YouTube to release your short film to be seen by YouTubers all over the world. Understand the difference in waiting for film festivals and publishing immediately onto YouTube. A separate external course on using YouTube for this purpose may be necessary.

YouTube Release

Conclusion to the course with a summary of the course content, goals and additional resources available, ending on a positive note. This course can always be repeated as a refresher or whenever you need a personal tutor during any part of the film production process.

4 Lectures 03:15

BONUS: For staying in the course, you get the opportunity for continuous networking with the instructor, students, and also to form potential film production collaborations wherever you may be at, all around the globe.


BONUS: Looking to learn to be a generalist and take your visual effects skills to the next level? Here is your chance to get in, cheap. Learn the entire visual effects pipeline from modelling, animation to compositing with three software in one (Autodesk Maya, Photoshop, After Effects), from start to finish in this innovative learning movement of learning through film (Filmtorial®). Limited discount coupons are available for interested students of this course.

Bonus Lecture: "Creating a VFX Shot from Scratch with Maya and After Effects"

BONUS: Looking to take After Effects to the next level? Here is your chance to get in, cheap. Learn both basic and advanced compositing with the popular software After Effects, including relevant and current compositing-related tips and tricks not available in other After Effects courses on Udemy. Limited discount coupons are available for interested students of this course.

Bonus Lecture: "VFX Compositing with After Effects"

BONUS: Jump from working on your own short to getting a job working right on blockbusters themselves. The instructor has worked on the following titles listed on her IMDb profile and instructor bio and is willing to share her tips of the trade with interested students. Limited discount coupons are available for active participants of this course.

Bonus Lecture: "How to Get a Job in Hollywood"
About the Instructor
Vicki Lau
4.4 Average rating
401 Reviews
12,869 Students
5 Courses
VFX Professional, Emmys 2014 Attendee, TEDx & SMPTE Speaker

Vicki started as a humble student of digital media back in the small city of Singapore with a background in visual effects and programming in film and television. Without any contacts or connections in the United States, she began her career at the age of 18 from Singapore, working her way up into the Hollywood film industry and landing her first break working on AMC's hit series, The Walking Dead (Season 4), as well as other movies such as Guardians of the GalaxyAlice Through the Looking Glass and the recent War for the Planet of the Apes.

Already recognized by her country and by major organizations as an expert in her field, Vicki has made great strides for someone her age, being in consistently high demand for jobs - averaging about 4 job offers and requests for interviews per freelance month(s) of availability, whilst her peers are still struggling to find their first entry-level position in the field. At only 24 years of age, she was one of the youngest speakers and presenters at the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference in its time, where she was a panelist and speaker for virtual reality in motion pictures.

She gave a TEDx talk on visual effects and virtual reality in May 2016 at Napa Valley, CA.

Why Learn from Vicki?

What makes Vicki different from other VFX instructors is that she actually worked IN Hollywood, California itself, brushing elbows with many names and even being invited to the Emmy Awards in 2014. Vicki shares with her students REAL insights that people in the Hollywood industry uses.

Learn from someone who actually worked IN Hollywood, CA at the MAJOR studios and blockbuster hits, and not some project outsourced to a small country or city at an unknown studio or from someone who claims to know "the secrets," by mimicking other successful instructors' language and content.

Trust, but verify. You can check out Vicki's IMDb page as proof.