You are here
Home > Film/Art > Academe/Education > Guide to making a story for your own silent movie project

Guide to making a story for your own silent movie project

Silent movies are regarded as pioneers in cinema history.

These classic pieces don’t have synchronized dialogue accompanying the visuals. Instead, the speaking lines are shown as muted gestures, pantomime, and text frames. Interestingly, some filmmakers still go back to the historical roots of cinema as they come up with their own silent film projects. They produce such works by following the distinctive elements typically seen in these early motion-picture offerings.

Brief History

The birth of cinema before the dawn of the 20th century popularized filmmaking as a new medium for entertainment and documentation. From those times until the late 1920s, silent movies dominated the films made available to the public. This was because the technology during this period was still unable to incorporate sound and picture together — which changed by the start of the sound or “talkies” era.

Basic Elements of a Silent Movie

If you want to make your own silent movie, the initial things you must consider are the general look, concept, story, and technical requirements to include in your script. A silent movie is expected to be a black-and-white picture, as color film was only made available a few decades after the silent era. It should also be undercranked, which means the movements of the people and the camera are faster than the normal, real-life playback speed. During those days, cameras were usually handcranked; the speed of the cranking reflects the playback speed of the final picture.

A silent movie features characters that typically interact in the same way as any other film. It can still include speaking lines, but the actors’ actual voices are not heard in the film. Instead, the musical score is simply played for the entire duration of the movie’s running time. If a specific character speaks, a text frame fills up the entire screen with the spoken lines shown. Also, since silent movies are presumed to be old cinematic pieces, evident dirt, dust, scratches, flickers, warps, and other age-related flaws are seen throughout the picture.

Making Your Story

Adjust your concept and story according to the basic elements of a silent movie. However, don’t feel limited when using them, as you can actually bend the conventions in creative ways to cater to the scenes you have in your imagination. What is important is to ensure your viewers notice certain distinguishing qualities that allow them to see your project is a silent movie.

Although classic silent films are originally composed of black-and-white images, you can actually use sepia tones or even saturated colors as well. Your work can still convincingly look like a silent movie through text frames, flickering images, and undercranked movements. You can also mix more modern effects to your work, such as adding some animated parts to your text frames.

Consider making a fitting story that only involves a few actors and scenes that can effectively work as a period film setting. However, you can also come up with even a contemporary story that features modern characters and plot, then simply use the silent movie format for your audio-visual requirements.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

Similar Articles