If any style of narrative structure should feel completely at home within the sphere of independent film, it would be the experimental sort. In fact, you could venture so far as to say one could not exist without the other.
The reason I believe this to be the case is because the independent film industry is where so many auteurs turn towards and return to in order to make the stories they want to tell.
Benefits of Experimentation
When it comes to creating and exploring experimental narratives, the emphasis is very much on how you say what you want to say, and not what is said.
This gives filmmakers:
• The freedom to explore unconventional subject matter
• Freedom from outside interests and financial motivations.
On the surface these things create ideal filmmaking conditions, where anything goes and where rules are virtually non-existent, but the auteur must remain wary in their pursuits as at any point the sandbox may turn into quicksand.
As much as auteurs would like to divorce themselves and their work from scrutiny and all forms of commercial success in favour of artistic liberty, there must be some semblance of structure to keep audiences and critics engaged.
Art may innately resist being labelled as good or bad, instead replacing these notions for subjectivity, but audiences are still just as discerning as critics; they know what they like when they see it.
Breaking with Convention
Very often the best way to approach the exploration of experimental narratives in short films is to focus on incorporating one or more visual techniques.
For example, you could place special emphasis on:
• Shot economy
• Dramatic lighting
• Suspenseful soundscapes
• Creative expositional scenes
• Psychological framing/blocking.
Mastering these techniques within the context of an experimental short film will help you to upskill and create a point of difference which can do wonders for your career in film.
The Importance of Goal Setting
Ask yourself what your reasons for embracing the experimental narrative in short film are as what you want to get out of your exploratory filmmaking endeavour will dictate how you go about it.
If you are more interested in being innovative than in being understood, by all means hone in on that and don’t let anybody’s criticism stand in your way.
Finding Your Voice and Audience
It might not be for everyone but as long as an experimental short film understands what it is and makes no apologies there will always be a place for it and an audience willing to consume it.
That said, the fact that experimental narratives so often go against with viewer expectations means many screenwriters and directors find the story difficult to map out.
If you do have a screenplay for an experimental short film at the ready and would like a second opinion on the narrative, learn more about our script development service and contact us for a round of script notes.
Lastly, remember that every idea has value, and those that have seemingly little at first glance can do well as a story kernel within a short film exploring the experimental narrative.