Need short film ideas...

HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

Not my usual place for brainstorming but...

My short film The Survivors was delayed until December and I have the opportunity to make a short film over summer. So, I'm brainstorming ideas. I have one idea but I have to work on it some more with my writing mentor before continuing it. So, I was wondering does anyone have any cheap ideas I could spin off of? Being in high school, all my actors are also teenagers, so bear that in mind (but I have two or three adults that would gladly act in it if need be.)



  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast
    edited May 2019

    I am sure it's done before and not sure if you want a film with a 'message' but the other day I was thinking "what if people shared in real life what they share on social media?"

    Maybe have a look at some 80s films for inspiration and update or put a spin on them.
    Lost Boys comes to mind especially if your actors are  teenagers. 

    I recently read a 'How to write' book which had the following exercise.....
    "When the news announced the end of the world that morning Jay..."
    I got a short story (still on my to-do list) from that premise. What if some friends met up after hearing the news.
    What would they talk about? How would they spend the last 48 hours? Would they be able to or would something stop them? How would they behave?

    How about the old "Young people find a <stash of money/strange gizmo/alien creature/locked briefcase/time machine>"?

    How about teenagers meet the Grim Reaper/Pennywise/Dracula/Jason but don't take him seriously and end up making him really annoyed?

    There has been a little talk about GoT and LotR having 1000s of years of history but they still use horses and swords. What if one remote town or race  *had*  developed mobile phones and guns? 
    You could have some warrior say "Send a messenger to the King of The North. He must make haste with his army!" and the response being "Sure, what's his number?"

    Anyway, you said brainstorm   

    p.s. Are you connected to this?

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @DafterThings thank you, that gave me some good ideas. Directing me to that other thread was extremely helpful! I am looking for some sort of message in my movie, but I think I could do one with a message and one just for fun.

    I have this one idea: it’s about a teenager who is basically Indiana Jones... so he attempts to steal something but then something else happens... I don’t know I’m still working on it, but I’d need to figure out WHAT he’s stealing, WHY, and then give it all some sort of message.

  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast

    @heysiri no problem especially as the 'ideas' phase is one of my favourite areas.

    When you mentioned Indiana Jones I immediately thought of a spoof where the teenager was trying to get their confiscated mobile device back. I then backed up a little...
    What do teenagers value? What does *your* teenager value?
    Where would it be located? In a school? in a house? in a jungle/forest/woods?
    I then started thinking of Blair Witch and then Predator and, for some reason, Terminator and then the teacher in Ferris Bueller. 

    I then started thinking of a teenager stung/infected/possessed by something found in the woods/abandoned house/warehouse which controls them into hunting down his friends.

  • bkdroid13bkdroid13 Website User Posts: 9

    Generally, when you have a good idea for a short film, you know it. It is this short film idea that makes "pop" and feels good. And all those to whom you say they think is also a great idea for a short film.

    We will cover the writing and development of short films in another article, but for now, we will focus on how to propose initial ideas of short films that will awaken the imagination of people.

    Here is what lies ahead:
    ♦ Why propose short film ideas and not present ideas?

    ♦ Good ideas of short films against bad ideas of short films.

    ♦ 3 ways to generate good short ideas.

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @DafterThings the film I make this summer has some guidelines:

    • All or most of the characters must be teenagers. Note: I roughy have a dozen teenagers but the fewer needed the better.
    • It's easiest if the film takes place in a single location.
    • The locations I have access to: a forest, a house, a school (but it's a bit more difficult to use during the summer), and a green screen wall.
    • Budget is $150 at most, but I would prefer to do this for free (I already have filming equipment—all budget would be spent on props or costumes, but I prefer not to spend any money).

    I hoped to make the film have some sort of meaning to it, but I'm willing to settle with just a good storyline. I also can't decide on a genre. To be honest,  I have no idea. I like the ideas of a comedy and a horror story, so I'm not sure. Does anyone have any basic ideas to spin off of?

    Even if you have an idea that doesn't fit the guidelines, please share it because maybe we can work together to mold it into something that does.

  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast

    ... and none of the ideas I put forward are within those guidelines or something you are interested in?

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @DafterThings I'm sorry I missed that haha. I like the retrieving the phone idea... I just think it might be slightly too simple, you know? Like I don't know where I could really go with that storyline.

  • Vagabonding101Vagabonding101 Website User Posts: 50

    Glad to see my old threat helped someone. Nothing from that thread has come to fruition (yet). But as someone who's in the same position  @HeySiri a very small cast is EXTREMELY helpful when working with teenagers, all the shorts I've worked on with more than 3 people have fallen apart very quickly. If you really want to make something with a story, it can be interesting to make something that is NOT an action short. Something that's like a coming of age story, or a story of overcoming some challenge all middle schoolers face can be good. This may seem like it would be easy on the VFX side, but it's great to practice set extension skills (I believe you have pro) and many other things. It's also a better experience for practicing good lighting and good sound production, it's also generally easier to control as it requires a smaller cast and you can choose the best actors and people that you trust. It's a great thing to do while you're between bigger projects. 


    That being said, action shorts have an appeal that few other things have. And they're insanely fun to make.

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @Vagabonding I do have Hitfilm Pro. What exactly is set extension? I think I know but I'm a bit unsure of what exactly that is...

  • Vagabonding101Vagabonding101 Website User Posts: 50

    @HeySiri There are a few different forms, but the basic principle is to create a completely new environment, or add elements to the environment your talent is. This can be done with stock elements, 3d models, and many other techniques. It's a great exercise for many different skills.

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @Vagabonding101 Looking on websites like FootageCrate they have set extensions  but, when you are planning to extend a set would you have to work with the images you know you have beforehand? It also felt like most of the set extensions were from odd angles that would be difficult to replicate, and I'm not sure how useful they'd really be.

  • Vagabonding101Vagabonding101 Website User Posts: 50

    @HeySiri There definitely are some limitations with photos as backgrounds, but using 3d models is another great method that has way fewer limitations. And it is true that those odd angles can get annoying, but with Hitfilm Pro the projection tool is REALLY useful on set extensions, it allows you to turn 2d images into a bunch of 3d planes, which creates a much more realistic parallax, and can make it easier to work with those odd angle photos.

  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast

    Definitely look at the projection tool. It is fantastic. Also the quad warp tool can add images and videos to your set to customise it for your own feel.

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    Ok I had this idea so can anyone expand on this:

    I was thinking it starts in a car. Maybe some teenagers are in a car? Maybe they stole it? Who knows. But I don't know how to film inside a moving car and make it looks realistic. Greenscreens can always be used but I don't have enough. So I don't know. Or maybe it's just a teenager on a roadtrip with his parents in the front seat and we never see them. Anyways, something happens, car goes flying/gets tipped over/something. When the teenager comes to he is a distance from the wreckage and finds himself on the run for some reason. I'm still fleshing this out but it'd be a good, suspenseful opening. This film would also be like ten-twenty minutes I'd estimate I'm trying to keep it short. Does anyone want to expand on this? Maybe add a few ideas, flesh it out, etc?

  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast

    They stole the wrong car. In the boot (trunk) or back seat or wherever is a weapon or money or a gizmo or dead body.
    The owners of the car are BAD people. Not only do they want the 'thing' back but also  silence who stole it.
    You only need a green screen big enough to fit the back window and then re-use it for the side windows.
    Maybe avoid it all but having them steal the car and *the* teenager lies down in the back and falls asleep.

    The alternate story is the teenager is kidnapped and put in the boot. We see darkness until  crash and the teenager awakes away from the burning/flipped car. You could then have people from a second car start chasing them.,

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out
    edited June 2019

    @DafterThings I love it... the only problem is figuring out what the thing is, and also how to green screen the car windows.

  • tddavistddavis Moderator, Website User Posts: 4,168 Moderator

    @HeySiri There's a green poster board at Wal-Mart that matches my 10x12 green screen cloth almost exactly.  Tape some to the outside of the window.  Maybe?

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @tddavis good idea I’ll check it out!

  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast
    edited June 2019

    The thing is a briefcase much like Pulp Fiction. The viewer never gets to see inside.
    Make something metallic with a glowy bluish light.
    "What is it?"
    "I have no idea but it looks important"
    A briefcase full of money.

  • JeonimJeonim Website User Posts: 1
    edited June 2019

    The hardest thing is always to come up with the ideas. I'm trying to do the same thing at the moment for my project. I made a short film last year though about being shy and it actually turned out a lot better than I thought it would. So you maybe think about doing something that's personal to you. Also, try looking at other short films on places like YouTube and Vimeo. They help a lot for inspiration.

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    I've been trying to expand on this "teenagers steal the car from the wrong sort of people" idea and I think it'd easily make a great thriller, but I want to go for a bit more of a "fun" movie. Maybe whatever they steal is some sort of sci-fi thing that I can have some fun with, but I'm currently at a loss for ideas. I want to make it a fun chase movie, but still give it a good driving feeling and maybe some sort of meaning behind the movie. Instead of just a chase and a simple "don't steal cars" like actually have a hidden meaning throughout it. But I'm not sure.

  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast

    Maybe the Sci-Fi gizmo is some medical device rather than a weapon. The chasers need it to keep their child (or themselves?) healthy. The (very) hidden message would be how our actions might have far reaching consequences.

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    Okay, my only last question I think is how at the end to reveal the chasers as good guys not bad, without making it just a cheesy dialogue exchange 

  • DafterThingsDafterThings Website User Posts: 878 Enthusiast
    edited June 2019

    The teenager is cornered in a building and cowers. The chasers move in and the teenager holds out the gizmo
    as a last desperate attempt to gain mercy. The chaser takes the device and is joined by another chaser. Maybe that chaser is holding an infant (even if just a bundle of rags). We hear the sounds of the infant struggling to breath (maybe some alien-like coughing) . The gizmo is used like an asthma inhaler (or just pushed into the bundle) and we hear the sounds change to easier breathing and, perhaps, a little laughter. The Chasers shed a tear and share a smile knowing their child is now safe.
    The teenager stands up, peers into the bundle (maybe then we see the alien infant?) and realises what it has all been about. Maybe the teenager apologises and the alien infant grasps the teenager's finger?
    There then needs to be some resolution between chasers and teenager.

    Either they nod to each other and walk away (or get 'beamed up') or, maybe, they disintegrate the teenager.

    <edit> The actors might need to really sell this. There should be exchanges of concern between them then relief. Would they talk to each other? Would you come-up with alien like noises that match (like a 'chirrup' for happiness and a 'wail' for sad)?

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    So I’m trying to come up with a short film script. I had one but my main actor’s wife is expecting a baby any week now so we thought we’d delay for a few month...

    So for this new film, I’m trying to base my script off what I’ve got. Here’s what I have:

    Three actors, one teenage male, one teenage female, and one adult male (ex military he looks kinda intimidating. So I was thinking the adult would be the antagonist.)

    Locations: a smallish house, a forest, or a biomedical technology machine shop I have full permission to film at. Due to time constraints I only have time to film at one location and I can only do a one day shoot. POSSIBLY the forest and the machine shop but I’m leaning toward just using the machine shop.

    I have fake guns (airsoft and nerf, all painted black). Some looks real and some look sci-fi.

    I also have some syringes and vials I would like to use becuase they look cool ??‍♂️.

    Im aiming for a five to fifteen minute short. I’m also leaning toward the thriller genre. Does anyone have any base ideas?

    One last thing, an idea I had was maybe the syringes and vials house a hallucinogenic drug and the film is someone having this weird experience but I’m trying to make it a thriller and give it a good storyline.

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