November 2, 2014 at 10:34AM


Ideas for a Short Film

I've been trying to come up with ideas for a short film for quite some time. Have read articles and sought advice but somehow seem to have a mental block.

Does anyone have any suggestions that can kickstart my creative thinking so that I can come up with some story ideas that would be suitable for a short film?

What processes do other people find work for them and what makes a great story that translates to a potentially great short film?


It depends on how short were are taking about. I often make short videos for class. (This one won me a mini contest my video production teacher had: ) For short videos like these I have a plot generator app. It gives you a location and scenario. It's pretty vague, but it's just enough to kick start the creative juices. But I wouldn't ever use it for client work. For client work I have a set of questions I go over that usually help spark an idea. For example, how could I make it ironic? These tactics usually help. Also, if you think of an idea somewhere (I don't know why but I usually think of ideas in the shower) make sure to write it down or type it in your notes on your phone as soon as you can to insure you don't forget it.

November 3, 2014 at 10:04AM

Beau Wright

I step out of my comfort zone and read books I wouldn't normally read, and watch music videos and movies that I wouldn't normally watch. On another note, John Carpenter turned to a 6 pack of beer when he got writers block when writing Halloween II.

November 3, 2014 at 10:05AM

Reggie Brown

Do you attend a small(ish) church? For me, it was volunteering to do creative short videos every weekend. It got me in the habit of grinding out the tough yards of creativity. I would advise the same - look for an outlet where you can have creative input regularly and then go do it. Robert Rodriguez said we all have at least 3 dozen or so crappy films in us anyways. Might as well get 'em out.

November 3, 2014 at 11:39AM


Think Back to something good or bad that happened to you or someone. Read books or look for unsolved mysteries. If you have a day job, some drama must have happened there. There are a lot of things to draw stories from and its all around you!

November 4, 2014 at 8:34AM

Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op

Honestly there are so many things that work for me... watch movies, read news articles, surf the web, just absorb everything and everything... watch a movie... then think to yourself..."what if this happened...". I imagine a scene or certain shot... and I would get so hyped to shoot the shot that I would force myself to think of an idea to get to that particular shot. I bounce ideas off of a fellow film maker... She says something, I'll add to that, she'll add something next thing you know you have a short story that has nothing to do with the first sentence... If you have a routine you do everyday, change it up, take a different path to work, watch a different channel you've never seen before, listen to metal, listen to jazz, eat something you've never eaten before in a restaurant you've never been to at a part of town you've never been to... or maybe that could be a scene...

Opens on a man looking down at an empty plate sitting alone at thai restaurant.... his nose starts bleeding on his suit and tie... and its 30 minutes until the big meeting.....

Its fun! Ideas are all around, just see em! Good luck!

November 5, 2014 at 12:01PM, Edited November 5, 12:01PM

Franklin Carpio

SOmetimes, a simple story but a story that matters to the audience.

November 10, 2014 at 9:38AM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

Try this...
Think opposite...
Think production wise first and then fit your story around it.
1. What locations do you KNOW you have easy enough access to?
Interiors: Friends and families homes. Work locations such as bars, warehouses, shops.
Exteriors: Rooftops with views, open areas that are easy for sound.
Actors that you know are good that you can easily work with i.e. accessible, attitude, talented.
Stylize your visual story so you can use minimal equipment. One stylized light can say more than a perfectly even lit set.
What traits in humans get you thinking most, whether they are good or bad? Address them.
Write your dialogue in esoteric terms. "Jimmy is a really good guy". A character in New York will say that differently than a character in West Virginia. The same goes for two characters on different areas in NY alone. Don't generalize your dialogue.
What subject do you really know about that you would wish others knew and understood?
Take any two ideas, bring them together and make a new one. That is the essence of creating. Nothing under the sun is new, so you are not stealing when you do this.
When was the last time you really cried, got physically angry or went with a gut feeling against everyone else's advise and you turned out to be right? Or saw any of this in someone you knew?
Now sit down and do it...

December 26, 2014 at 9:56PM

Paul Coughlan

If this is your first short film and if you are finding it hard to find an idea, the best way to proceed would be to write something that you have seen or experienced first hand. It is not just about the comfort of writing something personal/familiar but it also adds great value in terms of your conviction and attachment. There may be this one interesting guy you see everyday during your walk to the supermarket or a bad breakup your best friend went through. Anything you have seen or experienced firsthand would make great material. Also, the authenticity you could bring to the story when written this way is unmatched. Understand that the process of making a film not only involves creativity but also the evolution of the maker as a person.

January 22, 2015 at 11:28AM

Charukesh Sekar

Nice ideas,)

November 19, 2018 at 4:48AM, Edited November 19, 4:49AM

Grover Ramsey
Reporter (Las Vegas Sun Newspaper)

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