How to get an idea/concept for short films

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Whenever you are trying to conceptualize your next or even first short film, it can be a daunting undertaking. It is so because we, as short film makers, are mostly students on low budget and does not have a big cast and crew to work with. Most of the time going through an entire process of filmmaking will make you question yourself. Limited by all these restrictions, we still have to come up with good topics or great concepts that can keep our audience on the edge of their seats during the film.

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So, in order to save yourself some time and lots of headache, you can go through the list of points enlisted here. After reading these points, you will be able to come up with short film ideas that can be made into stories with diverse themes. You can even get some inspiration to write movie scripts of funny, suspense, thriller, horror, silent, 2 minute, or 5 minute short films.

1) Make a Daily Habit of Writing.

Make a habit of dedicating some time like 15 minutes after waking up or before going to bed for thinking and writing down some ideas. If you do this, soon you will be able to come up with some great concepts that can be molded into short films.

2) Watch Other Short and Feature Films.

As a beginner short filmmaker, we advise you to watch as many feature and short films as possible. This can help you to get inspired to come up with new and original concepts or even flip around their concepts. You can even adapt a scene from a feature film and put your own idea with a twist in it to see if you were the director, what you could have done with it.

3) Trending Topics.

In this age of internet, staying up-to-date with trending topic can be of a great help. Let's say if you were to make a short film about a trending topic, there is a good chance of it (if presented properly), going viral and increasing your audience count to multiple folds. As we all know that video games are not made just for kids and they can also help you to come up with new challenging and entertaining concepts for a VFX short film.

4) Keep a Notebook.

We cannot stress enough on how important it is to always keep a notebook journal with you, because ideas can come at any possible times like while you are travelling, cooking, bathing or even sleeping; and being able to note them down on spot and making a list can prove to be a handy maneuver. 

5) Reading Books.

One important thing you should start doing is reading books. Most of us hated them in our childhood but they are a good source of inspiration, when your job is to come up with an idea for an indie film. Books are the literary resources that are often under looked, when it comes to getting inspired for a short film's idea but trust me they really help.

7) Biography.

Another interesting genre to work upon is biography. It is obvious that you cannot get in touch with a national or international icon, but what you can do is make a film about a known local public figure. This will help you in working upon an original idea.

8) Life Experiences.

Presenting your own life experiences can be both interesting and original because the details and characters are the ones you have lived. And sometimes our lives are as interesting and entertaining as movies, if not more. For instance, take one of your school life pranks and shape it into a comedy short film with a bit of your own detailing.

9) Locations.

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From our own experience, we can definitely say that there are certain locations that will help you to come up with notions and concepts for a good short film. Possibly for a short horror or adventure film location plays a very important role. So, make some time, take a tour of your locality and research; see what you can come up with. As independent filmmakers, our resources are often limited. By listing out the resources at hand, you can often generate ideas in accordance to the resources.

10) Documentary.

A short film doesn’t always have to be fiction; it can be a documentary too. And believe me; you can shoot some interesting content at a very low budget. For example: find a local music concert and ask if you can film the interviews with the bands or you can also film an athlete or a friend go through his training regime for his upcoming sports competition and turn it into a good documentary short film.

11) Confinement Stories.

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A very interesting way to make a short film can be confinement stories. Confinement means the condition of being in custody. You can create a confinement story by just creating two characters and putting them in a location that they can’t leave and see what happens. The story and characters will start to build on their own and then you can decide the climax.

12) Reading Newspaper.

Reading the newspaper can be a good practice because it is full of real life incidents that can be combined and interchanged to come up with an idea for your next short film. And there is high probability that your audience will relate to them because these are the incidents that has happened to people in real life not in stories.

13) Research.

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Let's say, you have a topic for your next short film but you have not done any researching about it, this can often lead into many plot holes and inaccuracies. So, full-proof research about a certain topic is very important. This can also make you come across interesting facts and scenarios that can be turned into interesting scenes. For instance, if you want to make a short film about time travel, firstly, research about various theories supporting time travel and then, start writing your script.

Concluding all this, there are certain factors that affects the newbies while making short films. In a country like India, it is not always possible to do things like filmmaking because of peer pressure and orthodox mentality of society. In order to overcome such obstacles and pursue your passion, you should be strong enough to shut negativity out and follow your heart. Always be aware of the resources at hand, so that you can be able to work with lower budgets and cope up with adverse situations. In order to stay in for a long run, you should keep your hopes in check, since; initial projects are likely to have less return value.

Comment down below if you have any other ideas / concept for short films.

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