I am a director from Central Pennsylvania. I've work on numerous projects as an actor, written short narratives, and produced my own work, but my passion is directing.
Do it 48 Hour Film style.
Pick one of the following genres out of a hat:
Fish Out of Water
Then pick one of the following characters out of a hat:
Bitsy Ballou, Advice Columnist
Ignazio del Fuego, Cab Driver
Hugh Simon, Bouncer
Paul DeGala, Substitute Teacher
Mary Collins, Marriage Counselor
Debbie Hebb, Insurance Agent
Donald Miller, Musician
Betty Conrad, Poet
Pick on of the following lines of dialog from a hat:
"Is that the best you've got?"
"I was lied to and very much deceived."
"When you say it like that, it's almost poetry."
"Be careful what you wish for."
"You look so beautiful in the dark."
"What happened to the spaceship?"
"My limp would be more justified if I were injured in some way."
"I think I had some friends at some point."
"Why don't you just cut off my arm?"
Pick one of the following props out of a hat:
Mismatched Argile Socks
Empty Cardboard Box
Broken Picture Frame
Boom. Now you have a genre, character, prop and a line of dialog. Let your imagination carry you the rest of the way.
I've produced a few shorts, and have worked on many many more. I guess somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 all together. Most of them were so bad than they never saw the light of day. The ones that did surface were most commonly a third or fourth short for that particular director.
My point is, I don't think it's uncommon for someone to feel the frustrations you are feeling. It's like someone saying, "I want to build a piano from scratch, how do I do that?"
My best advice is to make the thing. Do it the best that you can, and learn from it. If it's not great, be willing to try again, and again until you make something you are proud of.
I don't imagine anyone on this board is going to give you any of their story ideas. Those are precious. So you are going to have to come up with something on your own. I find that the best stories start with a feeling. So what I usually do is take whatever the main feeling I'm having at any given moment, and put it in a different scenario.
Here are some links to NFS posts that I've found helpful.
There are tons more great posts. Use that search bar at the top of page to find insight on specific topics.
As far as direction and cinematography goes, that's a matter of taste. If you are directing the film yourself, you will have to make choices about these things. My only real advice is to always be serving the story. You'll likely make mistakes, and wish you had done something differently (I know I do), but that's kind of the point of making short films. The more you do it, the more you learn. It can be a slow process because a lot of what you learn is what not to do, but if your passionate about making films you'll learn with time.
Good luck! I hope your short is the first of many outstanding films you make. Just make sure you make the thing. I know a lot of people who talk about making films but rarely do it. Be a doer, not just a talker.
If you're just looking to make a film, and you need some inspiration a lot of people love the 48 hour film competition. It forces you to make something in one weekend, and rewards you by playing your film in a theater screening. It's a low time commitment (although you might not sleep for a weekend), wont cost much because everyone involved must be a volunteer, and makes you make something. Good or bad, it will be done in 48 hours.
I live near Harrisburg. If you'd like to contact me, there are links to my facebook, twitter, and vimeo on my NFS page.
You can find all kinds of student films looking for actors on craigslist. As an actor you have an awesome opportunity to observe and learn from the crew on the set. You can also take the opportunity to talk to people on breaks and begin building your network.
Furthermore, going on auditions and experiencing what it's like to be an actor will make a more well rounded filmmaker. Actors are a strange lot, and being one on occasion will help you understand them better.
Precisely what I was wondering. Thanks, Ryan.
Thought the trailer was well composed. Looks like a fun project, man! Bet you had a blast!