Writer and Director: How To Set Up Your Story In 3 Minutes

INCLUDED IN THIS LESSON:  15 minutes of video content and analysis, shot lists and breakdowns    –Supplied w/English Subtitles

IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN:   How do you set your story up in 3 minutes so that you can educate your audience of  WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN.  In this Lesson Shane Hurlbut, ASC takes you on a journey of discovery on the key elements of building your story.  This lesson applies to absolutely everything you are creating.  Powerhouse of Gold Nuggets.  

As a screenwriter, you want to educate your audience on understanding the world your story takes place in as quickly as possible. In this article, you will learn how to pack as much story into every frame as possible, what key points to highlight and build on and which ones not to, how to work with your director and cinematographer to pull this feat off, and how to achieve scope as well as keeping character development intimate.

In this brave new world of telling stories, getting to the punch line, the product messaging, or the action elements as efficiently as possible is your ultimate goal.  Backstory and character development have been reduced by at least 50% on our current roster of films, commercials and documentaries. You need to grab your audience, transport them, and motivate them to take this journey. Your viewers want it boiled down, condensed, and most of all quick.

Shane Hurlbut, ASC will take you through the thought process of working with the Writer/Director Josh Stern on Swing Vote to swiftly set up your story successfully. The collaboration, the organization, and the key elements pack this powerful amount of information into a three minute box.

  • How to educate your audience in a condensed form
  • What elements to build on
  • How to pack as much story as possible into each frame
  • How to boil down the Who, What , Where, When and Why
  • How to build shot lists with your writer/director
  • How to achieve the scope
  • How to build intimate character development
  • How to transform the words on the page to the screen


<<<Marc D>>> As a newbie, I’m blown away be the intricately “deliberate” nature of the process. After reading through the commentary and script, watching the film now feels like I’m in the head of a mastermind!!!! It feels like I’m privy to the inside scoop and just marveling at how much thought goes into every frame that I was oblivious to before. Thanks Shane!
<<<Janis J>>> Thank you Shane for this highly valuable insight into the internal mechanics of film-making.
I have learnt more reading this one article than watching hours of YouTube tutorials.
<<<Dan L>>> Thanks Shane. Invaluable stuff. I can’t get over how many shots it took to establish this 3 minute intro sequence.  Really glad I joined the Hurlbut Academy so far.
<<<Eric>>> Great Lesson! I loved the idea of the shot listing script exercise before we saw the prelim shot list. I was stunned of the things I was omitting to include from my list. Learned a lot from this!
<<<Adrian>>> Absolutely awesome information and the break down made me even understand it and I’m a web video guy. Ha ha.
<<<Joshua A>>> This is great information for how to take a script and turn it into a visual plan.
<<<Steele R>>> This was an amazing Lesson. Thank you Shane. Definitely going to use these tips for my Rode Short Film.
<<<Tonya T>>> Your explanations cut through so much……. (Well you know) Thank you for making everything understandable.
<<<Joseph D>>> Thank you so much for this Lesson Shane!  I am learning many things as a part of the Hurlbut Academy!
<<<Gerard D>>> Thank you Shane for your help here in clarifying my thinking and focusing my vision like a laser.
<<<Janis J>>> Thank you Shane for this highly valuable insight into the internal mechanics of filmmaking.  I have learnt more reading this one Lesson than watching hours of YouTube tutorials.
<<<Shoito N>>> Awesome article!!!  I did study the 5 W´s 10 years ago in film school. But the way Shane shows us is impeccable. Really easy to understand and very intuitive.  Thanks Shane!!! Loving theHurlbut Academy!
<<<Ivan>>> I loved this Lesson, great.
<<<Cliff E>>>Once again Shane – a great instructional piece.
<<<Oscar S>>>Just what I was looking for! Great!
<<<Morgan C>>>Awesome- Super helpful!
<<<Cesar P>>>Great Lesson !!!
<<<Matthew M>>>This was awesome, loved the video. Very in-depth and helpful.


We are directing all comments and questions to our New Forum, please find the related course in the forum’s categories to submit.

David Verwey 21 days ago

Hi Shane, what was your motivation for the up/down tilts in the opening seqeunce? Was it jsut to get the black wipes or also to convey that Molly is rigid and ,meticulous despite the chaos that she lives in?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    18 days ago

      @David Verwey Hi David, Yes you are exactly right, all about the emotion of Molly, organized, meticulous and the true adult in the family, ha ha.