Free Short Film Scripts

Free Scripts for Short Films

Are you looking for free short film scripts? You are welcome to use any of my scripts, I won’t charge you anything for it.

I’m an award-winning filmmaker and my films have been shown in more than 200 film festivals and venues around the world, if you’d like to learn more about my work, go here.

All I ask is that you let me know you’re going to do it – info (at) – and that my name is included in the credits.

Download any of my scripts below, drop me an email, and stay creative!

If you’d rather download one of my short film scripts in Portuguese, click here – you may also use a translation tool to translate those scripts from Portuguese to English.

Title: Creature in a Fish Tank


“Creature in a Fish Tank” is a mysterious and suspenseful short film that centers around Joseph, a man who stumbles upon a peculiar and enigmatic creature in a pet shop. Intrigued by the creature, he decides to purchase it and takes it home to care for it in a small fish tank. As time passes, the creature grows at an alarming rate, forcing Joseph to continuously upgrade its habitat. As the creature’s size and strangeness increase, Joseph’s life becomes increasingly consumed by it. The film explores the consequences of obsession and the unknown as Joseph’s interactions with the creature take an eerie and unexpected turn.

Number of Characters: 4

  • Joseph
  • shopkeeper
  • Mike
  • Voice of QVC Commercials

Number of Locations: 6

  • Pet Shop Entrance
  • Fish Tank Room in the Pet Shop
  • Joseph’s Living Room
  • Joseph’s Bedroom
  • Exterior (Outside, night)
  • Fish Tank Room in the Pet Shop (again)

Budget Estimate:

The budget estimate for “Creature in a Fish Tank” would depend on several factors, including the scale of production, location costs, talent fees, and special effects requirements. As a short film with limited locations and a small cast, the budget could range from a few thousand dollars for a minimalistic production to a higher amount if more elaborate sets and special effects are needed to portray the creature’s growth realistically.

Overall, the film’s budget would primarily be influenced by the production team’s creative decisions and resource allocation.

Title: People in a Can


In the short film “People in a Can,” four strangers find themselves trapped inside a malfunctioning elevator and its tunnel. As they desperately try to figure out a way to escape, tensions escalate, and their true selves are revealed.

Number of Characters: 4

  • Catherine – A 26-year-old Caucasian woman.
  • Richard – A 45-year-old Black man.
  • Lutz – A 92-year-old Caucasian man with a dark past.
  • Daniel – A 32-year-old Jewish gay man.

Number of Locations: 1

The entire film takes place within the confines of the elevator and the elevator tunnel, with occasional shots of the elevator’s interior and the tunnel.

Budget Estimate:

The budget for “People in a Can” would be relatively low. The film primarily requires a single set, which is the elevator, and minimal props, such as a knife, gun, and some basic lighting equipment for the underground tunnel scenes. The film’s focus is on the intense interactions between the characters, which would rely heavily on the performances of the actors. Therefore, the budget estimate for this short film would depend on factors like location costs, cast and crew fees, and equipment rental, but it would likely be in the lower range for short film productions.

Title: The Horseless Cowboy


“The Horseless Cowboy” is a poignant short film that explores themes of identity, nostalgia, and fleeting moments of connection. Richard, a 55-year-old man, awakens and embraces his cowboy persona as he dresses in full western attire. He heads to work at a McDonald’s, where he encounters a young boy named Thomas and his mother, who become unwitting catalysts in a transformative experience.

Number of Characters: 5

  • Richard (55-year-old cowboy)
  • Police Man
  • Employee
  • Woman (Thomas’s mother)
  • Thomas (5-year-old boy)

Number of Locations: 7

  • Richard’s room
  • Bus stop
  • City streets
  • McDonald’s changing room
  • McDonald’s kitchen
  • Car
  • City center street

Budget Estimate:

The budget for “The Horseless Cowboy” would depend on various factors, including the location costs, casting, crew, equipment, and post-production. Given the limited number of locations and characters, it could be produced on a moderate to low budget, with careful planning and resource allocation. The shooting schedule may be relatively short due to the concise nature of the story.

Title: The King and the Beast


“The King and the Beast” is a short film that explores themes of loneliness, redemption, and the consequences of one’s actions. Set in a mystical, old palace, the story revolves around an ancient king who has isolated himself from the world. He is plagued by guilt and a sense of emptiness, having ruled his kingdom with cruelty and indifference for many years.

Number of Characters: 3

  • The Old King – A remorseful ruler who has spent years in isolation, contemplating his past actions.
  • The Beast – A mysterious and fearsome creature that the king had created through his cruelty, now seeking justice.
  • Courage and Intelligence (Child) – Represented as abstract qualities personified, they enter the palace to confront the king.

Number of Locations: 5

  • Palace Exterior (Night)
  • King’s Chamber (Night)
  • Staircase (Night)
  • Palace Corridor (Night)
  • Palace Exterior (Day)

Budget Estimate:

The film could be made as an animation film to capture the fantastical and otherworldly elements effectively. The animation would allow for creative freedom in depicting the decaying palace, the fearsome Beast, and the abstract qualities of Courage and Intelligence. The budget would depend on the style of animation chosen and the complexity of the visuals, but a moderate budget would suffice to create a visually stunning and emotionally impactful short film.

Title: A Man and his Cat


“A Man and his Cat” is a heartwarming and comedic animated film that tells the story of Rupert, an elderly man who secretly befriends a stray cat despite his wife’s strong aversion to felines. Rupert’s daily visits to a nearby park lead him to a special bond with a playful kitten. To keep the cat hidden from his wife, Rupert feeds and cares for it in secret, but as the cat grows larger, it becomes increasingly challenging to keep his furry friend concealed. When Rupert goes on a quest to find food for the cat during a holiday, his wife, Ophelia, discovers the secret in their closet. However, what follows is a surprising and delightful twist that changes Rupert’s life forever.

Number of Characters: 3

  • Rupert – The elderly protagonist who secretly befriends the cat.
  • Ophelia – Rupert’s wife, who despises cats.
  • The Cat (unnamed) – The playful and mysterious cat who brings joy to Rupert’s life.

Number of Locations: 2

  • Rupert and Ophelia’s Home – The main setting where the story unfolds, including the closet where Rupert hides the cat.
  • Nearby Park – The park where Rupert first encounters the cat.

Budget Estimate:

This film could be produced as an animated feature film, which would allow for creative flexibility and potentially reduce costs compared to a live-action production. The budget estimate would depend on the level of animation quality and the studio chosen for the project.

The budget would cover expenses related to animation, character design, voice acting, sound design, music composition, script development, marketing, and distribution.

Title: Multiverse


“Multiverse” is a psychological thriller short film that follows Wendy, a young woman who decides to take a vacation in the mountains with her friends after a traumatic loss. She seeks therapy to cope with her grief but is plagued by unsettling events during her trip.

Number of Characters: 10

  • Wendy (main character)
  • Wendy’s grandmother
  • Lucy (a child)
  • Mark (Lucy’s father)
  • Wendy’s friends (Charles, Richard, Rod, Shelley)
  • Psychologist
  • Old Man
  • Taxi Driver
  • Villagers (Villager 1 and Villager 2)

Number of Locations: 8

  • Psychiatrist’s office
  • Wendy’s home
  • Village street
  • Snack bar
  • Bus station
  • Various rooms at the Stone Inn (dining room, corridor, Wendy’s room, Rod and Shelley’s room, Charles’s room, chanting room)
  • Forest
  • Truck

Budget Estimate:

The budget for “Multiverse” would depend on various factors, including the shooting location, cast and crew fees, equipment, and production design. Given the multiple locations and characters involved, a modest budget would be required to ensure the film’s quality.

A rough estimate could range from $20,000 to $50,000, considering costs for filming equipment, props, costumes, makeup, special effects (for the eerie elements), transportation, and post-production expenses like editing, sound design, and music composition. Additionally, costs for actors, director, and crew would need to be considered.

Ultimately, the budget would need to be tailored to the specific needs and resources available for the production of “Multiverse.”

Title: Madly in Love

Synopsis: “Madly in Love” is a psychological drama that delves into the complex relationship between Sarah, a young woman struggling with mental health issues, and Mike, her mysterious partner. The story begins with Sarah’s desperate desire to break free from her reliance on medication and regain control of her life. However, when Mike suddenly disappears without explanation, Sarah’s world unravels. Her twin sister, Anna, becomes her lifeline, attempting to uncover the truth behind Mike’s departure. As Sarah’s mental state deteriorates, she becomes convinced that Mike’s love for her is the key to her salvation. When a psychiatric institution intervenes, the film takes an unexpected turn, challenging the audience’s perception of love, reality, and mental illness.

Number of Characters: 4

  • Sarah (28-year-old woman)
  • Mike (30-year-old man)
  • Anna (Sarah’s twin sister)
  • Man from psychiatric institution

Number of Locations: 4

  • Living Room
  • Bedroom
  • Balcony
  • Outside the Apartment

Budget Estimate:

The budget for “Madly in Love” would largely depend on various factors such as the location of production, the caliber of actors hired, and the overall production values desired. However, given the limited number of characters and locations, it could be considered a low to mid-range budget film.

Title: Life Before Death


“Life Before Death” is a poignant drama that delves into the life of Roman Williams, a man who has endured immense loss and emotional turmoil. Roman is haunted by the tragic deaths of his wife, Laura, and their young son, Charlie, in a car accident. He struggles to find solace in a world that seems to have lost its color since their passing. Roman’s daily routine involves the monotony of work, dreams that transport him back to the joyous moments with his family, and a recurring question about whether there is any meaning to life before death.

One day, Roman’s frustration and dissatisfaction with his job reach a breaking point when his boss, Mr. Israel, reprimands him for his sluggish performance. Fed up with the pressures of his work and the constant reminders of his loss, Roman decides to confront Mr. Israel and declare his resignation.

As Roman navigates the depths of his despair and longing, he experiences vivid dreams of reuniting with Laura and Charlie. These dreams offer a temporary escape from his harsh reality. However, Roman’s reliance on sleeping pills to experience these dreams becomes a dangerous obsession.

The film culminates in a heart-wrenching moment where Roman is faced with a choice – to continue living in the dream world with his beloved family or confront the harsh reality that surrounds him.

Number of Characters: 8

  • Roman Williams
  • Laura Williams (Roman’s wife)
  • Charlie Williams (Roman’s son)
  • Mr. Ford (Roman’s landlord)
  • Guy (Mr. Ford’s brother)
  • Mr. Israel (Roman’s boss)
  • Secretary
  • Officer

Number of Locations: 6

  • Bus stop
  • Roman’s apartment building
  • Mr. Ford’s apartment building
  • Roman’s workplace (office)
  • Roman and Laura’s home (interior and exterior)
  • Bathroom

Budget Estimate:

This film would require a moderate budget to capture the emotional depth and dream sequences effectively. The budget would depend on various factors such as the cast, crew, location choices, and production values.

What is a Short Film?

Short films are a unique and compelling medium of visual storytelling that encapsulate narratives, emotions, and ideas within a concise timeframe. Unlike feature-length films, which typically run for 90 minutes or more, short films are characterized by their brevity, often spanning anywhere from a few seconds to around 40 minutes. Despite their limited duration, short films have the power to convey profound messages, evoke strong emotions, and spark meaningful discussions.

Short films come in various genres and styles, ranging from drama, comedy, and science fiction to animation, experimental, and documentary. They offer filmmakers the opportunity to experiment with storytelling techniques, visual aesthetics, and creative expression on a smaller scale. This condensed format requires filmmakers to focus on the essence of their story, making every shot, line of dialogue, and visual element count.

The shorter runtime of these films doesn’t necessarily mean a compromise in storytelling quality. Instead, it challenges filmmakers to distill their narratives to their most impactful elements. This typically results in intense, focused storytelling that can leave a lasting impression on the audience. Directors and writers must be highly skilled at economy of storytelling, using every frame to advance the plot, develop characters, and evoke emotions.

The production of short films is often more feasible for emerging filmmakers with limited budgets and resources. This has led to a vibrant and diverse ecosystem of short films, as creators can explore their artistic visions without the constraints that accompany larger productions. Additionally, short films serve as a testing ground for new talent, allowing up-and-coming actors, directors, cinematographers, and writers to showcase their abilities and build portfolios.

Film festivals around the world regularly feature short film categories, providing a platform for filmmakers to showcase their work to a wider audience and industry professionals. These festivals celebrate the art of concise storytelling, fostering a community that appreciates the innovation and creativity inherent in short films.

With the rise of digital platforms and online streaming, short films have found a new avenue for distribution and consumption. Platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and dedicated short film websites have democratized access to these works, allowing audiences to engage with a vast array of stories from around the world.

What is a script?

A film script, often referred to as a screenplay, is the foundation upon which movies and television shows are built. It’s the roadmap that guides the entire creative process, from the inception of an idea to the final realization on screen. Through carefully crafted words, a script communicates not only the dialogue and actions of characters but also the mood, tempo, and visual elements that shape the storytelling.

Imagine a canvas where the storyteller uses words to paint scenes that will later come to life with actors, cameras, and sets. This canvas consists of several essential components:

At its core are the vivid scene descriptions. These passages transport the reader to different settings, providing a detailed panorama of what will eventually be seen through the lens. Every detail matters – the weather, the architecture, the lighting – all combine to evoke the intended atmosphere.

Embedded within the descriptions is the dialogue, the heart of human interaction. This is where characters come alive, where their personalities and relationships are revealed through spoken words. The dialogue propels the plot forward, allowing characters to clash, bond, or reflect, contributing to the larger narrative arc.

To complement the spoken words, action lines fill in the gaps. These lines depict the physical movements of characters and offer insight into their emotions and intentions. A furrowed brow, a hesitant step, a triumphant leap – these actions not only convey the story but also add layers of depth to the characters.

Introductions are like unveiling a new character to an audience. A few carefully chosen lines can reveal so much – a character’s appearance, demeanor, and even their past. These glimpses help the reader understand and connect with the characters from the get-go.

Sluglines act as signposts, guiding the reader through the story’s landscape. They set the stage – indoors or outdoors, day or night – and provide a sense of continuity as the narrative shifts from scene to scene.

And just as a film editor stitches together shots, transitions link scenes. A dissolve takes us from one moment to the next, a cut shifts our focus, and a fade in or out signals a change in time or place.

While screenplays are meant to be the blueprint for directors, actors, and the entire production team, some writers include camera directions. These hints suggest the best way to capture a particular shot or emphasize a specific detail. While some directors prefer creative freedom, these directions offer a glimpse into the writer’s vision.

Every script adheres to a storytelling structure, usually divided into acts that mirror the story’s progression. It’s a journey: setting up the premise, raising conflicts, and culminating in a resolution.

About Nuno Sá Pessoa

Nuno Sá Pessoa is a versatile filmmaker and creative artist hailing from Portugal. Fluent in five languages and shaped by his multicultural upbringing, Nuno embarked on a journey that led him to play his part in the world of cinema.

Beginning his academic pursuits in Lisbon, Nuno’s thirst for knowledge and artistic growth led him to Denmark, where he honed his skills at the European Film College. With a solid foundation in hand, he ventured into the realm of independent filmmaking, making his directorial debut and making his mark as a cinematographer and video editor on notable feature-length films in California.

Nuno’s passion and drive culminated in the establishment of Skookum Films, a creative venture he co-founded with two esteemed colleagues. Under his leadership, Skookum Films has produced an array of captivating projects that have gained recognition on a global scale. These works have been showcased in over 200 film festivals and venues worldwide, earning well-deserved accolades along the way.

His professional journey has taken him to various corners of the globe, residing and collaborating in countries such as Italy, Switzerland and Brazil. Nuno’s extensive network spans across more than 30 countries, a testament to his innate ability to foster international partnerships and connections.

Not content with his achievements solely within the realm of filmmaking, Nuno Sá Pessoa has also been a jury member at diverse film festivals and a captivating public speaker at a multitude of events. His insightful contributions have reverberated through countries like the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Brazil, Switzerland, Portugal, Denmark, the USA, and the Czech Republic.

With an unwavering belief in transcending artistic and geographical boundaries, Nuno continues to embrace new challenges and collaborations. His journey reflects a profound dedication to the art of storytelling and an unrelenting commitment to uniting diverse perspectives through the medium of film.

Get Nuno’s free short film scripts and stay creative!

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