Is there any way to create a unique short film as a teengager?

I'm a junior wanting to create a film with a small group of my friends over the summer, and as I've been trying to write out all the limitations we're gonna have and think up some ideas, I realize with what we do have, there isn't very much room to create a story with a unique conflict that hasn't already been done. Iḿ trying to think maybe more of an informational-type film rather than a fictional one? But at the same time, I really want to play with a nice, story-driven script. Obviously, our resources would be limited, with basic camera equipment and cheap tools besides that (plus a budget preferably under $150), as well as limited places to shoot, so I'd like the story to be a really good one to compensate. Any ideas for inspiration, or even just generally where I could get inspiration, would be greatly appreciated!

So far my initial ideas are: Coming of age film about identity, existentialism, etc. Documentary about the day in the life of an ordinary person. Or, a script with no speaking lines and just a film with a bunch of symbolism and driven by acting. Trying to think different in terms of most high school student-made short films. Thanks!


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,403 Power User
    edited May 2022

    Coming of age is always good, and, being a teen yourself, you'll have a better perspective than if I - about to turn 50 - tried to tackle the same subject matter set in 2022.

    Over the last couple of years there's just been a lot of stuff to potentially explore.

    Don't worry too much about "unique." There are a limited number of basic plots and basic motivations, yet these can all be remixed in varying entertaining and meaningful ways. Here's a basic plot: an orphaned child accepts a responsibility to make the world a better place by fighting injustice... Now, did I just describe Star Wars Ep IV, Batman, Spider-Man or Lord of the Rings? Same plot, lots of different "cool stuff" to flesh it out.

    Novelist Larry Niven says all stories are lessons - the author has something to teach the audience. This also applies to movies. If you follow the careers of your favorite directors, you'll see that they tend to have recurring themes which show up in most of their work. Denis Villeneuve often explores questions of one's self worth and identity - see Blade Runner 2049, Arrival and Dune. All of these center in some way about how the protagonist sees themself and their place in the larger world.

    So, my question for you is what do you want to say? What burning questions about life or philosophy or politics are burning your brain? How do these questions make you feel? Do you have answers, or do the questions lead to more questions? A little thought here might inspire a theme which will have personal meaning to you, and that will start leading you to your story. Many of these questions will lead you back to a coming of age story, because coming of age is almost always about the protagonist answering those types of questions for themselves.

  • triforcefx
    triforcefx United StatesPosts: 1,647 Moderator

    Personally, I think trying to be “unique” is a trap. Especially when you’re just starting out. Forcing yourself to be unique actually creates a lot of mental block, which is what you seem to be experiencing already. Instead think “what ideas excite me?” (Even if it’s been done 1,000,000x) And then try to figure out how to pull it off with the resources you have. Once you’ve come up with a concept that excites you, then you can flesh it out… and in doing so, that will create a unique outcome. For instance, if you end up doing a zombie movie, it doesn’t matter that there are countless other zombie movies, this is YOUR zombie movie and it can stand on its own if you write it in your own way.

    Filmmaking is a very intensive process… it takes a ton of work. And when you’re new to it, there is a TON to learn. Keep things as simple as possible. Aim to keep your first projects well under 5 minutes final runtime until you’ve gotten used to the workload and feel ready to tackle something bigger. Remember that your first projects won’t be all that great… and that’s perfectly fine. The more you do, the better you’ll become. You just have to take these first steps.