Five short film creation ideas to get you started

April 14th, 2020  |  by Eva

When you begin to brainstorm ideas for a short film, it’s hard to know where to start. What we find that works is to not overthink the process, write down every single initial idea and then build on them. Even if it’s a logline – it’s a start!

Here are 5 short film creation ideas to get your brain ready for action:

1. A real-life event

This is a common base for stories, but an extremely effective one, nonetheless. The easiest part is that you already know the basic beginning, middle and end; you can then do extra research to pad out the vague parts of your story or add extra characters/events to develop the plot further! Also, if you want to relive this story with an alternative ending, now’s your chance.  

2. Base it on an old news story

News archives are a gold mine for captivating and unknown stories that will create an engaging short film. Browse your local, or national, news archives and find various intriguing, wacky stories from the past few decades.

Note some down and break them down piece by piece, then choose 2-3 of your favourites and start by writing down a logline. Maybe even share your loglines with friends and family to see which ones they find most appealing. Once you have your consensus, begin your script outline and you’ll be on your way!

Remember you can put your own spin on it as well. Was the original news report in 1960? Well, now it’s in the 2100s. Anything is possible!

3. Carry a pen and pad everywhere you go

This is quite important. If you don’t have a pen and pad on you, use a notes app on your phone. You’ll find you witness funny/interesting/weird moments daily. You may find a character you could base your film on or a twist for your plot. You never know what will trigger inspiration, and when, so always be prepared to note something down – it’s great for writer’s block.

4. Base it on someone you know

Is there someone you know that has an interesting story you could break up into a short film? There might be someone you know who would make a great comedy character, such as a funny ex-colleague or someone from school.

Basing a character around someone you know is a great starting point. You can exaggerate or tone down aspects of their personality to shape your character around your story, and then develop your secondary characters before you start writing your script.

5. Write to fit a location

One of the biggest complications’ filmmakers can face is writing for an unattainable location and having to redraft the scenes to fit that location. So, if you are working on a small budget, it’s useful to base your film on a location that is either free or easy to access. Creating your story from the location will allow you to scope out the limitations of your location and build your story around them. It saves money, time and unnecessary stress!

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P.S. Stay safe out there!