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Complete Guide: Ways To Get the Best Movie Ideas

Are you looking to come up with the perfect movie idea for a short film, feature project, or screenplay? It can be frustrating when you’re trying to think of screenplay ideas or story ideas and nothing seems to come to mind.

It may not even be writer’s block, per se. Sometimes it feels like all of the best ideas have already been taken. However, we’re here to tell you that’s not true! There are still plenty of great movie ideas left, you just need a bit of inspiration. Here are 20 ways to get the best movie ideas.

Read a Book

This could be a book, short story, or even a poem. The idea here is to draw inspiration. Maybe you start to imagine what would happen in the main character did something different in the story.

Go for a Walk

Inspiration is often lurking outside. Go for a walk, visit a park, and watch some squirrels fight over an acorn or birds flying around chasing one another. Think of dialect for them in your head or imagine a backstory behind it.

Take a Shower

It may seem like an odd suggestion but something about taking a shower often allows for ideas to surface. Scientists believe the relaxing environment mixed with the distraction of doing something menial allows for good ideas to come to light.

Watch a Movie

This could be any movie. An old favorite or something completely new. Try to break down the plot points or the essence of the movie. You could also focus on a supporting character. What do you think their life is like or what their backstory is?

Call a Friend

You could call a friend or family member. Ask them about how their day was or what’s been going on with their life. You’ll usually be treated to some great anecdotes that can provide countless ideas.

Browse Through Social Media

Similar to calling a friend, social media provides you access to real people and their real thoughts. As many have said over the years, real-life can often be stranger than fiction. You’re likely to find a lot of inspiration about characters or plot points while reading through friends’ posts or even through popular hashtags and trends.

Start Sketching

Even if you don’t draw, mindlessly sketching can be a great way to think of ideas. Plus, many find that they’ll start to sketch faces or landscapes that eventually end up being the inspiration for characters and settings.

People Watch

You can people watch almost anywhere and the best part is, it’s free! Where you go just depends on where you live and what type of movie ideas you’re looking for. For example, an airport is a great place to be inspired about reunions or love. However, not always feasible. A café, coffee shop, or bar are all good places to watch and listen.

Craft Something/Work on a Hobby

Working on a craft or hobby you love, is a great way to keep your hands and part of your brain busy while the other part is free to come up with ideas. It’s similar to the shower effect with just an added touch of creativity.

Search Through the Public Domain

The public domain is full of old stories, legends, and myths just waiting to be retold. You could reimagine a new version of them or just take inspiration from their plot and characters. Everything is fair game in the public domain.

Watch Soap Operas

This might seem like a silly suggestion but it’s actually quite brilliant. Soap operas have to keep viewers interested on a day by day basis. That definitely made for some creative writing and mind-blowing plot twists. While some of it, or a lot of it, might be off the wall, there are still a lot of great movie ideas to be had.

Read Through History

There is so much history throughout the entire world that it seems impossible to ever be able to absorb it all. However, all of that history is filled to the brim with interesting and sometimes unbelievable stories. Pick a time or event in history and dive into it. Look for story ideas throughout the text and see what you can find.

Start Researching Locations

Do you have an idea of where you want your story to take place? If not, start thinking about it. Select a location or several and research them. Look into their local history or tales about local legends. You may very well find screenplay ideas or movie ideas within the location setting of your story.

Dig Through Your Own History

You don’t have to just look through recorded history. You and your family have a history as well. Think about your life growing up, relationships you’ve been in, or the relationship with your parents. You could also ask relatives for stories or go exploring online through your family tree. You’re bound to find some inspiration.

Read or Watch the News

While the news can sometimes be difficult to watch or read, it’s often filled with human interest stories. Plus, as we stated before, real life is often stranger than fiction. You are bound to find some interesting characters or stories that produce some great movie ideas.

Break Down the Classics

The “classics” are usually considered classic for a reason. These books or movies were wildly successful during their time and it carried throughout history. Study the classics and break down their essences or plot in a few sentences. Look for trends amongst your notes. What do these classics all have in common?

Sign Up for a Dating App

This one might not work if you’re already in a relationship. However, if you’re single, you’re likely to find endless inspiration for characters and movie ideas in dating apps. There have been whole movies based around dating for a reason.

Study Real-Life Figures

While this is similar to studying history, studying a real-life figure may bring inspiration for a short film or a biopic about the subject. Even if you’re not interested in that, entire movies have been based around real people without actually being a biopic (such as Patch Adams).

Have a Brainstorming Session

Start a brainstorming session where no ideas are bad ideas! Grab pen and paper or your favorite electronic device and just start writing. You can write movies ideas, plots, character history, or whatever else comes to mind. Just keep writing and don’t overthink it. You’ll likely be surprised at the results!

Watch Silent Films

Classic silent films are pure masterpieces. Imagine having to create an entire movie without having your characters speak a word. Silent films are brilliant sources of movie ideas as you can watch them and infer any story you want. Just watch the character’s expressions and actions. What are they thinking? How are they feeling? Make up a whole backstory for them based on what you see in the scenes.

Find Out How Other Movies Got Started

A lot of times when you google your favorite movie you will find if it was based on something or how it came to fruition. Check out the video below to see how five popular movies got their spark from.

Have You Tried Using Writing Prompts?

Writing prompts are a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Make sure to check out all of our posts on that topic to get you going in the right direction.

Concept is King

All movies start with a basic idea. That idea is then turned into a concept that can sustain a story with conflict between characters. Your concept should always be just as strong an interesting as the story itself because that’s how it will peak people’s interest to want to see it in the first place.

If you’re a screenwriter or someone just getting interested into writing screenplays, then you need to understand how a strong concept can help your overall story.

Learn to Write Stronger Story Concepts, Themes & Loglines

There’s a saying that “Concept is King”. I tend to agree with this. Think about it. The concept of your story is the overall idea at its most basic core. It’s what makes us want to read your book, screenplay or see your movie after millions of dollars has been spent on developing it. You‘ve probably read a book or screenplay that was well written with lots of clever wordplay, but when’s the last time you have heard anyone excited about a mediocre concept? For me, concept is king, but execution is just as important. After all, what good is a cool idea if the author can’t tell the story in the best way it could possibly be told? Imagine if the movie “Karate Kid” was just a movie about a boy learning karate and receiving a black belt at the end to make his single mother proud. What if “The Godfather” was just about an old mob boss who ran his organization with an iron fist then just died at the end of the movie. How would that be any different from the thousands of mob flicks we’ve never even heard of with forgettable plots? These are concepts you most likely would forget an hour after watching them on the big screen.

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How to Name Your Fictional Characters (Plus More Than 2,500 Names & Meanings To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing)

You know what’s just as bad as hitting a brick wall with the plot of your screenplay or novel? Hitting that same brick wall even harder when it comes time to give your protagonist or any other character that perfect name. Having the right name for your characters not only helps them to become memorable, but can help sell the story as well. Sebastian Dangerfield (“The Ginger Man”), Tony Starks (“Iron Man”), Atticus Finch (“To Kill A Mockingbird”), Luke Skywalker (“Star Wars”), James Bond (“Casino Royale”)…the list goes on. Imagine pitching your screenplay or novel with any of these character names.

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