1.7 Film Making ideas

Filmmaking Ideas
Coming up with an idea for a short film can be one of the most difficult stages in the film production proces. Never fear! Here are some great ideas to get the synapses firing. If you can’t find a decent idea here, at least you’ll be certain about what you don’t want to make!

  1. Write a screenplay based on a famous urban legend like The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs or Clown StatueSnopes (a is a website covering urban legends, Internet rumors, e-mail forwards, and other stories of unknown or questionable origin)  is a great starting point.
  2. Create a short film about an incident—shown from the perspective of five different people. Watch films like Crash and Vantage Point for inspiration.
  3. Make a mockumentary  a television programme or film which takes the form of a serious documentary in order to satirize its subject – for example This is Spinal Tap and The Office.
  4. The Age’s Oddspot features humorous stories that could be the basis for an interesting short film.
  5. Imagine what it would be like if you mashed up the narratives of two completely different films. A Fistful of Dollars meets Office Space, for example.
  6. Make an adaptation of a story that’s fallen into the public domain—examples include The Tell-Tale Heart or The Monkey’s Paw (free online books)
  7. Approach an up-and-coming internet band and offer to make a music video clip for them.
  8. Make a film about the same incident playing over and over again—examples include Groundhog Day, Run Lola Run and Source Code.
  9. Make a film that consists entirely of cliches and tropes from other films (This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction)
  10. Make a film named Interview with an…Of course, you have to fill in the blank. Interview with an Invisible Man? Interview with a Hobbit?
  11. Make a promotional video or staff training video for a local business.
  12. Think of an interesting person in your family and make a documentary telling the story of their life.
  13. Make an instructional video on how to make something, check out the site Instructicbles for inspiration (share what you make website)
  14. Make a Mythbusters-style segment that attempt to prove a popular myth. Can you clean a coin with Coca-Cola? Do cheeseburgers go rotten?
  15. Create a cooking show—check out Jamie Oliver (FoodTube) and Posh Nosh (This website contains some of the recipes featured in award-waiting BBC2 series) for inspiration
  16. Create a stop motion animation using household objects. Check out the work of Pes (website for stop motion films) for inspiration.
  17. Pick an issue from your local newspaper and make a documentary about it, interviewing important stakeholders.
  18. Create a tourism video to promote your local area. Check out the television program Postcards (Chanel 9 Victorian based travel program)
  19. Make a documentary about an interesting job or occupation—approach the local police or fire fighters and ask if they’d like to be interviewed.
  20. Create a documentary about an interesting historical event in your local area. The local library or historical society is a good starting point.
  21. Think of something boring—like buying milk or making a sandwich—and film it in the style of an action sequence.
  22. Create a film in which the main characters are desperately vying to get their hands on a MacGuffin (is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues)
  23. Make a film about a conspiracy theory (cover up) —like The Illuminati or human contact with extraterrestrials.
  24. Make a documentary about the story of your family’s life—get your parents, grandparents and other family members involved.
  25. Make a short film with the intent of entering it in a film festival or competition.
  26. Create a film in the style of a traditional film noir like Double Indemnity or The Big Sleep.
  27. Make a fan film (A fan film is a film or video inspired by a film, television programcomic book or a similar source, created by fans rather than by the source’s copyright holders or creators).  Have a look at Troops (10 mins) for ideas.
  28. Create machinema (is the use of real-time computer graphics engines to create a cinematic production)Red vs Blue is a great example of the genre (8 mins video) Taiser https://roosterteeth.com/episode/the-slow-mo-guys-season-1-taser-impacts-on-bare-skin-at-28-000-fps
  29. Find an old public domain movie at www.archive.org (Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more) and re-voice it in the style of Bargearse (3.09 mins) and The Olden Days (2.23 mins)
  30. Start planning your film by thinking of a twist—then work out how you’re going to lead up to it.
  31. Ghost stories like Paranormal Activity (trailer) and Lake Mungo (trailer) have been exceptionally popular in the last few years—can you put a unique spin on the genre?
  32. Create a parody of a bad 1960s cop show. Think big hair and bad flares.
  33. Create a music video using kinetic typography. Zak and Sara (3 mins video) and Duck and Cover (48 secs trailer) are great examples of this style.
  34. Create a short film inspired by the style of a famous and distinctive director like Paul Greengrass (He specialises in dramatisations of real-life events and is known for his signature use of hand-held cameras – Bourne Supremecy) or Wes Anderson (His films are known for their distinctive visual and narrative style- Grand Buddhapest Hotel).
  35. Create a film in which your main character is confined to one location—think Phone Booth (a 2002 American psychological thriller film about a man who is held hostage in a telephone booth by a sniper )and Buried (The story is about Iraq-based American civilian truck driver Paul Conroy (played by Reynolds), who, after being attacked, finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin, with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks, pen, pencil, and a mobile phone).
  36. Make a film where the main character breaks the fourth wall (e.g. Breaking The Fourth Wall only occurs if the characters acknowledge the audience or the author, whether directly or indirectly and talks to the audience)—like Ferris Bueller’s D) ay Off (e.g. During the film, Bueller regularly breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera to explain to the audience his thoughts and techniques)
  37. Make a short comprised entirely of scenes parodied from famous films.
  38. Make a film which uses the main character’s diary as the source of narration.
  39. You’ve got heaps of old toys laying about at home—use them to make a Robot Chicken-style animation can be seen via
    Adult Swim USA is a Turner Broadcasting System network offering original and acquired animated and live-action series for young adults.
  40. Make a sitcom. Can’t be done as a short film? Check out the awesome Derrick and Jonathan (9mins Youtube)
  41. Create an animation in the style of Saul Bass. These remixes of The Dark Knight (55 secs)
  42. Make a film about the day in the life of…
  43. Create an elaborate heist film about stealing something completely worthless—watch Oceans 11 and The Italian Job for inspiration.
  44. Think of the most interesting and distinctive location that you have available and make a film based around that.
  45. Use this random plot generator (exercises in a blog) to think up an idea for your short film.
  46. Learn how to make special effects at Backyard FX (Youtube DIY videos) and build your story around that.
  47. Make a short film based on one of the seven basic plots (blog of the plots) 1.Overcoming the Monster ; 2. Rags to Riches; 3. The Quest; 4. Voyage and Return; 5. Comedy; 6. Tragedy; 7, Rebirth; 
  48. Make a music video which consists entirely of time-lapse photography.
  49. Learn how to create one of the effects at Video Copilot (link not working) and build your narrative around that effect.
  50. Make a documentary about a local club or sporting team.
  51. Create a cut out animation in the style of Terry Gilliam. (??)
  52. Make a film using your teddy bears. Sound awful? You haven’t seen Dawn of the Ted (2mins 59 secs)
  53. Make a music video clip for your own song created in a program like Garageband.
  54. Some people have lived amazing lives, maybe one of them could inspire a short film (The Age – Obituaries)
  55. Sometimes your subconscious can churn out interesting ideas—maybe you remember a dream that would make a good short film.
  56. Making a stop motion animation with people instead of models can create an interesting effect. Have a look at this short film for inspiration (In animation stop motion animation is a cinematic process, or technique used to makes static objects appear as if they were moving)
  57. There’s heaps of great poetry—like Flannan Isle—that might inspire a film (poetry site)
  58. Create a short film based on one of Shakespeare’s sonnets (free ebooks)
  59. Use one of the fairy stories written by The Brothers Grimm (free ebooks) as the basis for your short film, giving it a modern twist.
  60. Tropfest is an annual Australian film festival that requires you use a signature item. Create a short film featuring this year’s and enter it! ( clever – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHk29V5MGIk&list=PLZ4MsBTSmdgbgft32lYgI4wxzV6BxTqmL&index=2)
    1. Mirror – http://www.tropfest.com/au/films/2014-finalists/untitled/
    2. Wauchope – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CVbWPhQ-cg

Filmmaking Ideas

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