Short film script ideas. This is a mini guide on how to come up with ideas for your short films. Below you can find a list of prompts & resources that might help spark ideas.
It is best to not over think at this initial stage. Don’t worry about the budget or practicals of making the film.
For now just focus on the story, you can adapt the script as you make drafts. It is best to just start writing and worry the script format later otherwise you will never get started.
If you are just starting out in filmmaking focus on a short film for now and don’t dive straight into a feature length script. Slowly build yourself up to larger productions.
I have also created a video with more film ideas here -
Real Life Events
Probably the easiest (and most common) way is to take inspiration from things that have happened to you in your own life. You can use the themes and lessons learnt from your own life to generate a story idea. It is best not to make it obvious the story is about you and avoid mentioning peoples names, you can be more subtitle and take your ideas from for example - an emotion, a modern problem, a rumour you heard.
You can take inspiration from the world around you. It’s typical for artists to take inspiration and adapt from one another. This maybe from watching a film, listening to music, your version of an old fairy-tale or a myth. Traditionally stories are all very similar they follow the same guidelines - the romance, the horror, the tragedy all genres that follow the same codes and conventions. Following genre conventions could help you with writing your screenplay.
Your Favourite Film
Watch your favourite film, turn off the audio and study the shots used and how that story is told through images on screen. Perhaps you can do a modern adaption of your favourite film or implement the stories themes into different locations and situations. Its OK to gain ideas this way, most ideas are not as unique and original as you might expect.
What resources do you have to make your film? List what locations you have access too, what camera / equipment , props, actors – perhaps create a story around what you have at hand. Try to get into the habit of keeping an idea journal. This way you will never be caught short - forcing yourself to conjure up a great idea for a deadline.
List of Ideas
- Write about something that has brought you great pain or happiness
- Work backwards, write a great ending first then work out how to get there
- Find a location first, write various scenarios of what could happen there
- Write about a topic you are passionate about, a sports game, a music genre, an art style
- Stick to a genre, work within the typical genre conventions - romance, action, horror, filmnoir
- What is your favourite film and why?
- What is your favourite book and why?
- What is the most frightening thing that could happen to you? How does your main character react to this
- Make a short film based around a feature film idea. The short film is your feature films pilot
- Work with what you have access too. What equipment, location, props and costumes do you own?
- Who or what is the antagonist in your story? What is going to hold your protagonist back?
- Use the lyrics of your Favourite song as a starting point
- Write about something you are dealing with in your life right now. What is on your mind?
- Based on a true story - Joy, The Wolf on Wallstreet
- Influenced by other films -Star Wars, Kill Bill
- Based on a short film - Bottle Rocket, Evil Dead
- Based on legends – Mulan, Gladiator
- Based on a novel – Dexter TV series, Blade Runner
- Influenced by Dreams – Blue Velvet, Inception
- Inspired by art – King Kong, Metropolis
- The writers life – Taxi Driver, Being John Malkovich
- Based on a short story – AI, Little shop of horrors
- Inspired by Poetry - O brother where art thou
Would I have been friends with my parents in high school? - Back to the Future. Writing about my time with my friends in New York - How I met your mother TV series. Spending time with my niece in the summer break – My neighbour Totoro.