Ideas for Short Films by Amateurs


Learning to make short films is a challenge. Whether you are formally studying the art of filmmaking and all the theory and technique behind it or are simply pursuing it as a hobby, it can be difficult to come up with story ideas. Here are some prompts for beginning filmmakers, designed to bring out your own originality and hone your skill.

Silent Films

  • Making a silent film is great practice for your directing, acting, and editing abilities. Since there is no dialogue, you need to rely on body language, actions, camera shots, and even scenery to convey the story.

    Sketch out the basics of a silent film (if you need plot ideas, see Section 5.) How would you develop the plot? How would you show emotion and conflict? How would you shoot it? Would you include textual dialogue in between scenes?

Music Videos

  • Music videos don't have to have full bands playing onstage or back-up dancers in sequined costumes. Actually, they don't even need to tell a story. Some music videos only strive to provide interesting visuals to accompany the song. Pick a song you like -- one that conjures strong images for you, and film a video for it. Something to consider: is there a plot separate from the song in your video? Or do the lyrics inform the characters' actions?

Mood Pieces

  • Short films do not always have to tell a story. Like poems, sometimes their main purpose is to convey an atmosphere or mood. Think about a certain mood you would like to create. Suspense, playfulness, peace, joy, fear -- any mood you can think of will do. Use dialogue, objects, scenery, effects, music, anything you have at your disposal to take your audience to a place. Like music videos, mood pieces need not tell a whole story.


  • Think of a film or TV show that you think you could shoot or act out better, or with a twist. Whether it's a sitcom or an epic movie, pick a scene, and map out how you would do it differently. Would you change the script? Would you cast different types of actors for different roles? Would it end the same? Would you do it shot-for-shot? Think about what works and what does not work in the original scene. Try to fix those things in your remake.

Story Prompts

  • One great way to get the creative juices flowing is to use story prompts. Here are some bare-bones plot ideas:

    1. A man is walking down the sidewalk carrying a bouquet of flowers. Suddenly he stops, looks around, and starts running the other way.

    2. A student is studying in the library when two others approach her and offer her an unmarked envelope. Confused, she takes it, and after they leave, she opens it.

    3. Sit in a public place for half an hour, just watching and listening to what goes on around you. Pick a random instance, or one that strikes you -- the couple talking over coffee, the boy walking dogs, the runners. What is going on in their heads? Where do you think they're going? Why are they here now?

    Expand on one of these. Where is the man running to? What's in the envelope? These prompts can go in almost any direction; they can be made into any type of film. And the beauty of filmmaking is, as with any art form, there is no right or wrong. So go with your gut, do what you enjoy, and don't be afraid of failing. Every short film you make is practice for the next.

  • Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet



You May Also Like

  • Funny Short Film Ideas

    Funny Short Film Ideas. ... How to Write a Silent Comedy Short Story. How to Make a Short Film. Featured. DIY Lighted...

  • Short Film Ideas for School

    Short films are cinematic narratives with a running time of less than 45 minutes. Short film ideas can come from a variety...

  • Ideas for a Short Homemade Film

    The movie industry is a large market that creates a number of films each year. With personal recording devices families can now...

  • Good Movie Ideas for Kids

    Good Movie Ideas for Kids. ... It is also fun to teach children about the age of silent films with classics, such...

  • How to Make a Silent Movie

    Silent movies are a fun way to tell a story. ... has evolved quite a bit since its simple origins in the...

  • How to Write a Silent Comedy Short Story

    How to Write a Silent Comedy Short Story. A silent comedy is a comedy that relies on funny actions to get a...

  • The History of Silent Movies

    The silent movie era spanned approximately three decades, beginning in the 1890s and culminating in the late 1920s. During this time, silent...

  • Cute Short Movie Ideas

    The boy meets girl story is a basic, much-loved theme that fuels the story lines behind new romance novels and movies year...

  • How to Do Silent Movie Star Makeup

    The silent film era of the 1920s was full of glamorous movie stars, ... The look was very distinct and included short,...

Related Searches

Read Article

12 Tiki Essentials to Turn Your Bar Cart Into a Tropical Paradise

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!