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Filmmaking 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 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. Start off by watching exceptional examples of the genre like This is Spinal Tap and The Office.
  4. The Age’s Oddspot features humours 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.
  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 DayRun Lola Run and Source Code.
  9. Make a film that consists entirely of cliches and tropes from other films.
  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.
  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 and Posh Nosh for inspiration.
  16. Create a stop motion animation using household objects. Check out the work of Pes 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 for inspiration.
  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.
  23. Make a film about a conspiracy theory—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.  Have a look at Batman: Dead End and Troops for ideas.
  28. Create machinemaRed vs Blue is a great example of the genre.
  29. Find an old public domain movie at www.archive.org and re-voice it in the style of Bargearse and The Olden Days.
  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 and Lake Mungo 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. Think Funky Squad or Austin Powers.
  33. Create a music video using kinetic typography. Zak and Sara and Duck and Cover are great examples of this style.
  34. Create a short film inspired by the style of a famous and distinctive director like Paul Greengrass or Wes Anderson.
  35. Create a film in which your main character is confined to one location—think Phone Booth and Buried.
  36. Make a film where the main character breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience—like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
  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.
  40. Make a sitcom. Can’t be done as a short film? Check out the awesome Derrick and Jonathan!
  41. Create an animation in the style of Saul Bass. These remixes of The Dark Knight and Star Wars should give you inspiration.
  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 to think up an idea for your short film.
  46. Learn how to make special effects at Backyard FX and build your story around that.
  47. Make a short film based on one of the seven basic plots of movies.
  48. Make a music video which consists entirely of time-lapse photography.
  49. Learn how to create one of the effects at Video Copilot 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. Here’s how it’s done.
  52. Make a film using your teddy bears. Sound awful? You haven’t seen Dawn of the Ted.
  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.
  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.
  57. There’s heaps of great poetry—like Flannan Isle—that might inspire a film.
  58. Create a short film based on one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
  59. Use one of the fairy stories written by The Brothers Grimm 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!