Got the movie making bug? If you want to strap on a camera and start filming, you’re going to need a great story to tell. Learning to turn on your creative mind and get yourself writing doesn’t have to be a struggle. Learn to find a good story and develop it into a compelling script that might make for a great short film.

 

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Start with a word, image, or object.

All a story needs is a seed that you can follow through until it grows. Will it turn into a great short film? Maybe, maybe not. In the beginning, all you need to focus on in the beginning is getting an idea started and seeing where it goes. Here are some effective ways of brainstorming to get a story started:
Good way to get a story started? Just start writing. Get out paper and pencil, or sit down in front of the computer, and make yourself keep writing for a given period of time. Say 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t worry about whether or not what you’re writing is a “story” or will make for a good movie. You’re just looking for an idea. You might write 99% junk, but there might be one little fragment that could generate into a story. Give yourself an idea.

Try a word exercise.

All you need to get a story idea is one little spark. Generate a list of more or less random images, the first words that pop into your head: Kindergarten, Oakland, ashtray, oil paint. Great list. Come up with at least 20 words, then start trying to connect them. What does the list make you think of? An after-school painting class full of kindergartners in the East Bay? A cigarette burning in a painter’s studio? Start with an image and let it roll. Find the story around the images.

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Start speculating for some good ideas.

One good way to get going on a story idea is to start speculating strange, surprising, or absurd scenarios that might make for a good story. What if all food was in pill form? What if you found out your father was a spy? What if your dog could suddenly talk? Good plots and characters can come out of speculation.

Look for short stories to adapt.

One great way to come up with an idea for a short film is to adapt a story that’s already been written by someone else. Check out recently published short story collections made up of stories with compelling plots, and find one that might be fun to film.[1]
In general, it would be hard to adapt a novel into a short film. Try to stay focused on short stories.

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Try filming real life.

Who says a short film has to be fiction? If you want to make a short film, consider filming the world around you and making a documentary. Find a local music festival in your area and ask if you can film interviews with the bands, or try filming your friend undertake his training regimen for sports. Find a good story that’s happening around you and get permission to record it.

 

Keep a dream journal.

Dreams can provide good inspiration for a short film, especially if you like weirdness. If you want to come up with an idea for a dream, set an alarm in the middle of the night to wake yourself up in the middle of one, then scribble the plot down quickly. Dreams can be a great place to supply images, strange occurrences, and dialog for short films.
What scares you? A good creepy dream can be a great way to start a horror short. When you write your script and film your short film, try to capture the same vibe of your creepy dreams. Check out David Lynch’s short series Rabbits for inspiration.

Boil down the story.

Can you write a short sentence of 15 words or less that outlines the fundamental concept and the plot of your idea? Then you’re on the right track. Once you’ve got your initial idea, try getting your “elevator pitch” down. Describe your movie as briefly and quickly as possible to give yourself the chance to write the best possible script, and to describe the story to others so you’ll be able to enlist actors and other supporters. Avoid vagueness or abstraction and focus on the scenario and the plot.

Good examples of a story synopsis might look like:

A boy finds a small alien in a field and brings it home.
The kindergarteners start painting strange images after school.
Bad examples of a story synopsis might look like:
A man struggles with depression.
A series of mysterious events befall the residents of Pittsburgh.
Think practically.

Consider what’s available to you and how you can use what you’ve got. Make a list of every prop, location, and actor available locally, and consider how they might generate a good story as you’re getting started. Maybe your friend who boxes three times a week might inspire a great boxing story.
Make sure your story is filmable. Equipment and sets are at a premium when you’re making a movie on your own and working without studio support and a bunch of money. Again, it’s going to be hard to film a sci-fi opera in your mom’s basement. Try and make sure you’ll be able to get the shots you need to make the movie you want to make.

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Cuts & Camera Productions
We produce innovative & engaging videos that use creativity and ideas to help you reach the people you want to reach.
 
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Cuts & Camera Productions
We produce innovative & engaging videos that use creativity and ideas to help you reach the people you want to reach.
 
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