We all know the feeling. You’re sitting at a coffee shop, brainstorming your next short film project. Someone walks up to you, and you try to hide your notebook or pretend you were just doodling, but that person saw! Your masterpiece is out there in the world now, exposed for all eyes to see.
What will it be? A horror film? A comedy? And then suddenly, silence. Nothing. No ideas whatsoever cross your mind.
What’s the problem? Why can’t you come up with any good short film ideas? Well, it might be because you’re thinking about your original concept too much—you don’t want just to make another run of the mill stuff.
Maybe many of us creative and artistic types are too close-minded. We stick to a certain point of view and aren’t willing to entertain others. So, what do we do?
How To Come up With Short Film Ideas?
Do you know what the problem is? You’re probably not supposed to have “just one idea” for your masterpiece. The real issue here is that your subconscious hasn’t been activated.
Let me show you how to generate your short film ideas in the following unique ways:
- 1. I always encourage you to watch movies you don’t like and how you could have made it enjoyable if you were the writer. Create your own version in a different genre or a separate setup. It can give a lot of food for thought.
- 2. Get rid of your original idea to come up with a new one. By trashing your original idea, you will be able to come up with a great, fresh new one that will excite you as well! When you try and develop a new idea, your brain begins analyzing the original idea and brings up other possibilities for what that idea could have been or should be.
- 3. Mixed up or mixed-up. Try mixing up two different genre movies, for example, a drama and a comedy. While you’re watching them, think about how you can make yours more interesting by combining the best of both worlds—this is a great challenge and will make your brain work in a completely new way!
- 4. Write down five ways of making your movie unique. Just write down five ways your movie can be better than other movies doing the same thing. Now, try to find out what you could do differently from how it’s done already.
- 5. Start with the end result in mind. This is another clever piece of writing approach that you should use to make sure your movie is as engaging as it can be. Imagine that critics already saw your film. Now, a critic stands up and starts talking about how bad it really was! What would they say? What was wrong with it? Then, start brainstorming ways to make your movie much better as soon as possible.
- 6. IMDb is a popular website for movie lovers. You can read reviews of other people who loved the same movies as you do and see what they have to say about their opinion of the storyline or the character development. It can spring up a few quick ideas.
- 7. Don’t be afraid to make it too complicated. It is the anti Keep it Simple technique. With this approach, you will tread into unknown territories. You will be surprised at the way you think.
- 8. Write a story idea without overthinking it. But try to write a complete story idea. Read it several times. Pick the bits you like and eliminate the rest. Now, look at things you liked. Connect them organically. Then redo the process of elimination again. You may have to eliminate a bit that you loved earlier. It will evolve into something interesting.
- 9. Look for images online. This is a great way to get inspired by other people’s work. Look at movie photos or posters (http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/images/review_still_1330), and get inspired for a new idea. Many movie ideas have come out of movie posters or any imagery.
- 10. Browse a movie on Netflix or any OTT that you never watched. Just randomly jump into the middle of a scene. Watch it for a few seconds. Imagine the beginning and the end scenes of the sequence. You will be surprised how different your idea is to the real one. You can build your sequence into a short film idea.
- 11. Write from actual incidents you have come across. So, get your mind ticking, but remember to make it dramatic. If you do not wish to reveal that it is a leaf out of a true story, make it unreal and fantasize about it. The best ideas are the ones that are based on facts but make the plot as exciting as possible.
- 12. Random keyword technique – Write random words as if you are going through a trance state while doing some other things that need doing. It is a lot easier than you think and happens very naturally when you do it regularly. Try to connect those keywords to your story. After a few attempts, you will flesh out something.
- 13. Write a Journal entry. This is another way to write ideas down that you would typically forget. Just jot down any ideas you come up with, and save them all in one place for future use.
- 14. Write a letter to yourself (the author). When you write letters, you take power away from yourself and put it in the hands of another person. It can spring up a short idea that you can expand upon later.
- 15. Write a poem or a write-up about a say – a Sunset. This is another awesome idea that will help you to write concepts. Just jot down any ideas you come up with, and save them all in one place for future use. Such prompts will expand your writing horizon, and you will be just a poem or a short write-up away from a great short.
- 16. Repurpose a story you like: Start thinking of movies that have an impact on you. You can easily change the settings and characters and tell a different version of the same story. This could help you to get ideas flowing and imagine what it would be like to write in different settings and scenarios.
- 17. Write about something that happened to you or memory of yours. Many writers found this is a great way to express themselves through writing, as it does not feel like writing at all. You are merely running through your memory to stop at a scene that took place.
- 18. Open up a conversation with someone else who writes just like you do. Find some other writers, talk about writing with them, go over each other’s work, and share tips and advice. You can even start a short-story-a-week challenge if you want to get more consistent with writing regularly.
- 19. Write about something you know nothing about but would like to learn more about. Dig deep and you will get some stories.
- 20. Collaborate with another writer or a filmmaker. So, get your creative juices flowing and help you develop new ideas for short films in the future.
- 21. Follow the filmmakers you love and try something that they would likely do. Try to get new ideas and connect with films you love, the filmmakers behind them, and other people who share your passion.
- 22. Follow your favorite actors and actresses on Twitter or Facebook and see what they are posting. One of the best ways to expand your writing horizons is by following people who are into what you love and make you want to explore it yourself! Many stories have come out of mere thinking of an actor.
- 23. Find people on LinkedIn, Reddit, or Facebook Groups who share your passion and follow them. This is another alternative to fish out new ideas, getting inspired by other writers, and meeting them in person if you wish, allowing you to discuss your writing with them.
- 24. Follow the voice of the main character in your story. You will be amazed at how much more your story will instantly improve when you start following the character’s voice—you will feel like it has been written for you!
- 25. Similarly, listen to the other characters’ voices and see how they are in conflict with the protagonist. It will be a great way to get your brain ticking, and you’ll be amazed how quickly the characters will start to rise off the page right in front of your eyes! they may have an untold story to be told. It becomes a real launchpad for a new creation.
26. Play a soundtrack, close your eyes and imagine like you are watching a movie. Just play the scene in your head so that it becomes part of you, and you will be able to write an emotionally captivating script much faster than if you just sat there typing it out by hand!
27. Contact short story writers and request to be part of their group. Learn about the different ways writers work, as you will have a chance to discuss your writing with other writers who are very open to new ideas.
28. Have discussions with friends and family about stories that have already been written or stories that you would like to pen. If anyone has read a short story before, they will be able to give you some valuable advice and suggestions on how they might have done it themselves (or not).
29. Adapt a script from a story that is already there in the public domain. This is a great way to get you started. And if you really like the original story, you will get new ideas on how to write it in a completely different way.
31. Think of a Title. Like – The Surrender. Just by mentioning the title, I am sure innumerable ideas have started to germinate in your head. Similarly, think of unusual title names. In no time, you will find your fingers tapping on the keyboard.
31 is just a number. You will indeed find your own ways to come up with innovative ideas. There are endless possibilities, so to say you are stuck is not acceptable.
So, there are innumerable ways to come up with a short film idea of your own, and if you give it a try, there is no end in sight to the short film ideas you can come up with! But, don’t overthink! Pick any one that suits you and start writing. There you go, you have your short film.