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Old April 20th, 2006, 09:28 PM   #1
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Coming up with short film ideas

Heya,

I have great difficulty coming up with ideas for short films. I usually just sit in my room and think..and that gets me nowhere! I was just wondering, (and thought it might be interesting for everyone to to see/ compare) what your methods/proccess are for coming up with original short film ideas?
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Old April 20th, 2006, 11:18 PM   #2
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Try to remember some of the cool stories you came up with when you were a kid.
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Old April 20th, 2006, 11:20 PM   #3
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sometimes i read/miss read odd/normal news clips in the paper - those 2-3 paragraph type where they are just filling in the spaces - sometimes the headline is better then the paragraph so i take the headline and build around that ...

lately i'm doing a series of 3 "studies" - very simple (3-5 min shorts)
based on motion - i refer to them as "pure cinema" ..

when i go to museums or art exhibits something will hit me when my mind puts together 2-4 pieces of totally different art works ( different artist) ..

sometimes when i'm standing in line/walking around at grocery store, eating at resturants , i just happen to over hear converstaions going on around -every now & then something hits ..
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Old April 21st, 2006, 12:00 AM   #4
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I kinda have the same problem. I have a map full of scenes or "flashes" of things.
The problem is connecting it to something bigger.

If I ever find it out I'll let you all know, okay?
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Old April 21st, 2006, 12:29 AM   #5
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Hey Rob, I find that the numero uno reason why people can't think if any film ideas is because they're not paying attention to whats going on around them. filmmakers especially! We eat, sleep, and breath stories that have already been told. Go out, be with people, talk to them, experience something. I bet you've had a few conversations with a number of different people that you could squeeze together around a theme or something and cough of up screenplay. There are stories everywhere man, dont look for them, experience them!
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Old April 21st, 2006, 04:15 AM   #6
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Rob, yes that is exactly the same..damn those "flashes"! :) I really like your more unusual ideas Don, ill gve them a try.

This is interesting, Keep 'em coming!
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Old April 21st, 2006, 04:44 AM   #7
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Jay is right, life is a film... it has to be if you are looking for original material. It could start with anything you see at anytime.

Keep your ears open too! Be the person everyone wants to talk to, be engaging and honest (your eyes).

Interact with people at a public hospital; sit in the emergency room for three hours (geeze, you would not believe what you will see). Laundry mats are good or any bus terminal... but get out of that dark room.

It will drive you to drink.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 12:15 PM   #8
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Josef,

Maybe you need to connect with some people that have ideas. Maybe you'd make a better director or DP than writer. I can't write worth a lick, but I've made a ton of films, just in different roles.

If you do want to persevere at writing, then my advice is to stick with what you know best. Personally, I know music, songwriting, being in a band, skateboarding, basketball, filmmaking, those are my interests and passions, so if I stick with those things, I can probably write something true and meaningful.

What do you know? Go with that.

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Old April 21st, 2006, 12:24 PM   #9
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Anything can be an inspiration. The problem you may be having, is that you are still thinking inside the box. Allow yourself to imagine the wildest scenario that can happen, no matter how wierd. If you can visualise that scene, you should be able to build the path to that scene, and then what happens afterwards.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 02:15 PM   #10
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sometimes if i don't know where i'm going with an idea, i'll walk around shooting stuff with my camera that is pertinent to that idea and generate ideas from images. doing usually unsticks me faster than thinking. thinking can be the very thing that blocks me...
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Old April 21st, 2006, 03:04 PM   #11
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Do what I do: maintain a blog. If it does not attract traffic to your site, at least it will be a good place to take notes. If you are lucky, people might give you feedback.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 05:10 PM   #12
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If in doubt, steal them from classic literature and/or comic books. Works for everyone else. And if you are really stuck, send a serial killer after teenagers behaving badly.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 09:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Hey Rob, I find that the numero uno reason why people can't think if any film ideas is because they're not paying attention to whats going on around them. filmmakers especially! ... There are stories everywhere man, dont look for them, experience them!
Quote:
Allow yourself to imagine the wildest scenario that can happen, no matter how wierd. If you can visualise that scene, you should be able to build the path to that scene, and then what happens afterwards.
The problem for me is not finding an idea or imaging a scene. That is the thing
I have no problem with. It is the story behind the ideas or scenes. The connection
between scenes. How to get from start to finish and build an interesting story,
with good characters and great dialogue.

Perhaps I just need to start writing more :)
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Old April 21st, 2006, 09:22 PM   #14
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For pure creativity and idea generation I highly recommend taking a "chicago-style" improv class in your area. Same types of techniques that they use for sketch comedy on Second City, SNL, Mad TV, Conan O'brien, etc. It's all about generating ideas and making big hairy crazy connections, you'll have more ideas than you'll be able to handle - and then you can start applying all that structure you've been reading about :-) Of course it means you also have to get up on stage and perform too.

BTW, I'm recommending the longer "Harold" type improv forms, not the short "Who's line is it anyway?" type stuff.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 10:07 PM   #15
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I don't see many of you guys entered in the DVChallenges. These are a great way to get inspired and actually get off the couch and shoot something. We had, I think it was, 27 entries this time around? Lots of folks doing these and there are even occasional prizes. A one word topic is thrown out and you write, shoot and edit it down to under 5 minutes in a week. The last one went 1 month but that's not normal. Hit the DVChallenge thread.

As to how I get my ideas? I am very driven by music. I like to go to unsignedbandweb.com and listen to the ambient or other catagories of music by total unknows. When a piece really hits me, I start making up scenes to fit the music. Sort of backwards but it really works for me since I don't do music and don't know many musicians.

If I think it's something I can work with, I write the owner of the piece and ask if I can use it for a short film/video. I have over 2 dozen musicians who let me use their music like this. One of my little shorts recently played in a festival in Strasbourg, France because the musician liked it so much he entered it on my behalf in a festival in his town, Strasbourg. That same short has played on the big screens here at a local festival as well. Another short will be playing on a big screen here in town the end of the month.

I have made CDs of my soundtracks and give them away at these screenings as well as copies of my shorts on DVD.

It seems to work for me. Music is very inspiring for me. Listen to music and just imagine the scene that fits the music. Now write it down and make it into a short.

I have 7 scripts waiting to be shot on my web site. You can read them there. They as well as the other four I have recently shot were all writen and inspired by music I found on the unsignedbandweb site.

Good luck,

Sean McHenry
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