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Six second cutscenes

Can you tell a great story in six minutes? How about six seconds? You certainly can. Before TikTok, there was Vine — a short-form video hosting app where users created and shared six-second looping videos. Even within the limit of six seconds, creators have managed to create fascinating and funny content to entertain and educate their viewers.

The following exercise challenges students to make a scene and tell a story in just six seconds. They need to make quick, accurate decisions and get right to the point. And, of course, they must be clear and easily understood by the public.

Your students can choose to either create and perform a six-second live scene or create, shoot and edit a six-second video. Whatever medium they chose, it had to be exactly six seconds – no more, no less – and it would be timed.

Materials required:

  • Timing device
  • Paper and writing utensils for brainstorming, scripting and storyboarding
  • Smartphone and editing software (if students are making a video)

Time interval:

  • 4–5 classes (1 class for introduction/planning, 1 class for script, 1–2 classes for rehearsal/filming, 1 class for presentations)


1. Divide students into small groups (3–4 students per group).

2. Using a stopwatch, demonstrate exactly how long six seconds are. You can do a lot in six seconds! Ask students to try some simple actions, such as writing a sentence or tying their shoes, and see if they can do them in six seconds.

3. Groups will plan and write an outline for their six-second scene, answering the questions below. Their scene can be about anything they want. It can be funny, tragic, educational, whimsical, thought provoking – it just has to fit right in the time slot.

  • What is the story of the scene? Describe it in one sentence. Be precise and specific.
  • What is the mood of the scene?
  • Will the scene be performed live or on video?
  • What is everyone’s role in the scene? (Each student must participate in some way on stage/screen, as well as contribute to the script, staging, staging, etc.)
  • What physically happens in the scene? Describe it sentence by sentence. (Example: John enters stage right. Picks up a banana and eats it. Drops the peel on the ground. Enter Rosa and slips on the banana peel.)
  • Where is the scene set?
  • What costumes and props are needed for the scene?
  • Note any additional details.

4. Groups will submit their drafts for approval.

5. Once each group’s outline has been approved, the groups will write their scripts and rehearse their scenes (and films, as appropriate). Groups must use a timer to ensure their creations last exactly six seconds. Check each group to make sure I’m not talking too fast to cram in more content.

6. Each group will present their live scene or video.

7. Each group member will submit a one-page reflection response to the following questions:

  • How were you an effective group member during this process?
  • What was one thing you learned from doing this exercise?
  • How would your scene have been different if you had chosen the other medium for presentation? (That is, if you were doing a live show, what would your stage look like if you were doing a video, and vice versa.)

Click here for a free rubric.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.

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