Film making is fun but it’s not a piece of cake.
Whether it’s a real or animated short film, from coming up with an idea, planning, pre-production, production and final editing, it can be challenging!
The toughest part for most people is coming up with an idea for a short film.
It’s not just enough to come up with an idea; it has to be creative enough to capture an audience.
That’s the tricky part. Even skilled filmmakers often experience difficulty coming up with solid ideas for their films.
The thing with ideas is that what you might consider a great idea might not appeal to the target audience. And it is definitely not a good thing for you to spend time and resources producing a film that won’t do well.
That is why you need to come up with solid ideas that will make a great short film that your audience will want to watch.
Short film ideas for beginners: How to come up with the best ideas that People will love.
There are some parameters that can form the basis of your brainstorming when trying to come up with a great idea. Some of them are discussed below.
1. Seek Inspiration From Everyday Life Experiences
Inspirational stories abound from everyday life experiences that can form the basis of a short film. There is a lot going on people’s lives.
Some people have fought against all odds to become successful; others have had to make sacrifices for the causes they believe in.
These can be used as inspiration for a film. Note that you need to get approval if you are going to focus on the story of a specific individual before making it into a film.
If you want to avoid the need for approval, leave out specific details but retain the message in the story.
Apart from the experiences of others, your personal experiences can also serve as a basis for a short film. If you’ve faced a tough situation or had an unusual encounter in the past, you can make it into a short film.
2. Tweak Existing Ideas
Another way to come up with an idea is to take an existing idea and have an opposite take on it.
Take a story and change how it begins or ends. The important thing is to alter some major details of the story to change the outcome.
You can also give a new perspective to an existing idea. By tweaking existing ideas, you can come together something entirely new.
3. Actively Write Down Ideas
When you are proactively looking for ideas, it is good to be prepared always because a great idea can hit you anytime.
“The best way to retain an idea is to write it down,” according to Time Magazine editor, Molly Crana
No matter how raw the idea is, write it down and try to refine it later. You’ll be surprised that a winning idea can come out of it.
It is advisable to carry a small diary with you whenever possible to make it easy to note down ideas as they come. An alternative to the diary is your smartphone’s notepad app.
There is no harm in noting down many ideas. Something great will definitely come out of the pile.
4. Use Poems And Works Of Art
Filmmakers in the past have been able to come up with great ideas from poems, folklore and pieces of art.
As a beginner, you can choose a piece of art or a poem, find out the story behind it and use it as an idea for your short film.
If the piece of art or poem is from a famous person, there will definitely be an interesting story behind it that can form a basis for your short film.
Poems are easy to create stories out of because they are short and somehow tell a story. And the good thing about poems is there is room for expansion of the story is though short.
5. Hang Out With Filmmakers
The best way to be good at something is to spend time with those in the trade. You can generate short film ideas by spending time with filmmakers either online or offline.
It might not be easy to find an offline group of filmmakers but there are many online filmmaking forums that you can visit regularly to share ideas.
As people post different ideas and contributions, you will know which ones work and how to build on them.
The forums or discussion boards are also a great avenue for building connections which could lead to future collaborations.
The friends you make on the forum can help you come up with different ideas or solutions to problems. The good thing is that you do not need to pay to join these forums; they are free.
6. Look Into Family History
If you take a look at your family history, you’ll discover that stories abound that you can adapt to a short film. Things that happened in the lives of your grandparents can be inspirations for your short film.
Historical stories are always lived by most people because times were different then and people love to know how life was in those days.
What it was like to live without technology, how they handled challenges etc.
These are valuable stories that you can exploit to make a short captivating film.
If you have a large extended family, sit down with them and ask them about their experiences in the past.
You’ll be amazed at the stories you will hear. And the interesting thing is that no two people have the same experience so you will have a variety of experiences to use as inspiration for your short film.
Best Tips on How to Make a Short Film by Yourself
After you have brainstormed and come with an idea to work with, the next thing is to get down to production.
You may have a great idea but how you present it matters. These are tips that you can use for your short film.
1. Make The Story Compelling
Your idea is just a skeleton of the main thing. How you tell the story matters. As you develop the idea make sure you write a rich and compelling story.
The plot should evoke emotion from viewers and make them remember your film for a long time to come.
The characters should be rich and well developed. This is the first rule of making a successful film.
2. Keep It Short
The short film should live up to its name – it should be short! A short film that is 30 minutes in length is no longer short. Anything between 10-15 minutes is ideal.
If you want to feature your film in a film festival, try to make it as short as possible as there will be many other films from other participants. Even if you are not featuring it in a film festival, it should still be short.
Dialogues should be light. Let the story be told visually. That’s what it means to be an efficient storyteller. You can cut a lot of dialogue out of a short film script if you focus on telling the story visually.
Employ body language to convey your message. People can tell a lot with their body language without even speaking. Eye contact and gestures are tools for great storytelling.
3. Go Straight To The Point
The opening scene is very important. The first minute can make or break you.
Take the opening scene seriously when writing your script. Everything about your character and the opening set should be shown.
The opening is your opportunity to capture your audience. If you lose your audience from the beginning, your film is on its way to failure.
A great first impression always matters. Give the audience a reason to continue watching your film until the end.
4. Be Creative
Your short film is your chance to bring your imagination to life. It’s more like creating the world you’ve imagined so bring all your creativity into it. Make it 10-15 minutes of adventure.
Explore your imaginations and push limits. It’s your chance to express yourself so don’t hold back.
As you explore, you’ll discover things you can do that you never knew.
Remember as a beginner, it is important for you to find yourself and define your style. Short films are a great way to experiment and discover yourself.
5. Learn From Accomplished Filmmakers
The best way to make a good short film is to watch successful short films from accomplished filmmakers.
This is very essential as a beginner. Observe the directing style and learn.
You don’t have to copy anyone but you can learn valuable things from them. You can ask these accomplished fellows for advice and ideas on your project.
6. Consider Your Budget
Budget is usually an issue so you have to carefully consider what you can do with the available resources.
How much will the short film cost to produce? Will you have to pay to shoot in different locations with multiple actors?
You need to think about these things so that your story will be crafted around your resources.
You don’t have to overspend to produce a short film. The main purpose of short films as a beginner is to build up your skill as a filmmaker.
You don’t need to always include special effects to make a good film. The best films are usually the ones that are simple yet able to grip an audience with emotion.
Save your money to make a feature film later when you have more advanced skills. As you are developing your short film ideas, note down all the resources that you can get without paying much.
If your friend or relative lives nearby you can shoot at their place, you can use a friend’s office after office hours or you can use your uncle’s cafe.
You can shoot at these locations when they are not in use or you can do it during their operating hours if allowed. Since the people you will contact for help are friends and relatives, they will be willing to help you.
After looking at the location, note down the list for wardrobe and costume. Can you use the ones you already own? Can you borrow any from friends?
When you have made a list of your resources, you can now go ahead to develop your idea.
It is best to do this before writing the script so that your script will be written according to your resources. It makes no sense to write a script you can’t shoot because you do not have the resources.
7. Remember To Keep It Simple
Your short film story should have a central idea. Focus on that idea. Avoid including complex storylines with different scenarios. This can take the focus off the central idea.
With the length of time you have, you can’t afford to start what you cannot finish. Complex storylines make the film longer but remember, you are writing a short film!
You cannot possibly tie up all the loose ends within a short time if you bring in different scenarios. The plot of the film will be lost and your audience will not be satisfied.
That’s not a good way to start your career as a filmmaker.
So keep things simple, focus on the central idea and see how you can make the story as compelling as possible. If you want to develop the story further, you can do that in a feature film later.