July Post Whiplash Photo

Proof of Concept Short Films

It is difficult to find funding for your feature film without a strong track record. If you want to make something that stretches the imagination it gets even harder. That’s where ‘proof of concept’ short films come in.

A proof of concept short film demonstrates to potential producers the viability of your film idea. To do this you should select one or two of the best scenes from your script and adapt these into a short film. They should showcase the main ideas, tone and themes of your feature film version, as well as giving you an opportunity to show off your filmmaking craft.

Here are three examples of shorts that were created as proof of concept films:

Whiplash → Whiplash

Damien Chazelle made his breakthrough as a director with the dramatic thriller Whiplash. This award-winning feature film had its origins as a humble short film. Chazelle was struggling to secure enough funding, so he shot the now famous ‘rush or drag’ scene from the script to show producers that this wasn’t just a boring movie about jazz, but the thrilling psychological drama that we’ve come to know and love. The short film version was a big success too, winning the Short Film Jury Award at Sundance 2013, and this momentum gained Chazelle enough support from producers to create his now critically-acclaimed film.

Saw → Saw

Screenwriter Leigh Whannell and director James Wan were disappointed they couldn’t attract funding for their grisly horror script in Australia, so they moved to Los Angeles. There they shot one of the torture scenes with the intention of showing it to potential producers in the hopes of getting a feature made. The two met film Producer Gregg Hoffman who was impressed by the proof of concept and signed onto the idea, impressed by the unabashed visceral blood and gore. The Saw film anthology now consists of seven films.

Within The Woods → The Evil Dead

Before the iconic Evil Dead series, Director Sam Raimi shot a short film on Super 8 film called Within the Woods. The 30-minute short film was made in 1978, in the hopes of gaining interest from investors to produce a full-length feature. The film had a small budget of $1,600 and was produced by Raimi who was 19 at the time. Within the Woods has now become the accepted prequel, which is part of the highly successful Evil Dead franchise.