It has grown tiresome and frustrating to me... People talking about the importance of story. It seems like a reflex answer.. making a film? better have a good story! Now, how many have ever contemplated the overwhelming importance of CHARACTER and IMAGERY. I will go as far to say that you don't need much of a story at all, especially within a short film. As long as the characters breath an essence of life that supports the overall CONCEPT, and the IMAGERY is appealing and accurately supports the characters. Stories, especially complex ones, can actually hinder the characters, that often just want to go about their business being AWESOME. Below.. the character of Travis Bickle and the warped world he perceives carries the 1976 film "Taxi Driver." The story is interesting, but that's not why the audience is attached.Have you ever not wanted a movie to end? That's due to rich and believable characters, not to the story. Sure.. why not give them a simple story to play in, but in the end.. it doesn't matter. It's ALL THE CHARACTER.
One of the best examples of this is Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused", where there is NOTHING to the story. It's a great movie because of the characters, the story itself is simple to say the least. Another tell tale sign of a movie that rides on Character and not story, is that if you can imagine the characters still living and interacting after the film is over, and you're curious about them.
Above, an image from one of my favorite films of all time, Ron Frick's "Baraka", a film that has no story, just beautiful mind blowing IMAGERY of our world and it's people. The film holds your attention the very same way a beautiful painting would.
I know that a lot of people will argue with me on this one, and often times it comes down to semantics. Some would counter that "Idea" and "Concept" are the same as story. But so often I've talked to short filmmakers struggling to figure out their complex stories, when all along they should have just been focusing on "framing an idea", and representing that idea with a strong imagery and characters... the story will take care of itself if the idea is strong and the audience can relate to it, especially within a short format. wussies.