Making A Short Film With Just One Character


I've always wanted to write and direct a short film with just one character, but I've never really done it. That is, if you don't count a mannequin as a second character... It's hard when you just want to play and create, to take people's time and pull them into your little directing world. You have to make sure all the cast are available, at the same time on the same day, which can be tough when it's more for your experimentation then their gain, especially if you're not paying. And if you're paying, two actors is double the money (I am a brilliant mathematician) so a minimalist cast is always better.

But even without the logistics, there is something about the challenge of telling a ripping yarn with just one character that draws me to it. I want to master it and I don't feel that I have yet.

Have you tried writing a one character piece - that isn't a monologue? Considering film is visual and things need to move along to keep the viewer entertained, it is quite difficult to write something visual and interesting with just one person.

It all starts with character. Who is this person? What makes them interesting to watch? Why do they do what they do?

A man walking to a shop and stopping to pick up rubbish on the street immediately becomes more interesting if the man in question wears a hat pulled down over one eye, is scared of people and has OCD. Straight away it raises questions and you are intrigued by the character. It is the character who tells the story.

I am going to try and write something over the next couple of weeks that contains only one character and uses at most two locations. I invite you to do the same. See what you come up with. It must have a story, i.e a beginning, middle and an end and something has to happen in your story.

Feel free to share your stories or if you make it share the video link. If I come up with anything I'll share mine too.

To get you thinking and hopefully inspire, here are a few feature films that use (mostly) only one character:


All Is Lost


127 Hours (Haven't seen it. Nope. Too scared)