Five Film Ideas

Hi! My name is Jay, I am a writer, songwriter and freelance filmmaker based in Teesside. I recently wrote and directed my first feature film Ruth the Musical and have worked for over 10 years making short films.

In this blog post I have gathered 5 ideas to help you write and make your own film. You are completely free to use these ideas and adapt and develop them for your own work.

At the end of the ideas, I have included some thoughts about the process of developing your story from these ideas and how to go about it.

Five Film Ideas

1. Two friends fall out after both witnessing the same incident but each one thought they saw something completely different to what actually happened. These two friends fell out over what they thought they saw. 

Tell the story of the two friends meeting after many years. How do they interact with each other? Do they talk about the incident? Do they dance around it? 

Retell the incident in question, from the point of view of each friend. Make each one sound like the true version. 

2. A woman who has absolutely no interest in babies at all, turns up to meet her sister’s first baby where all the family are gathered, doting on the new addition. Write about the family dynamics, tensions and old emotional wounds brought up during the meeting of the new baby and how the woman navigates pretending to be interested in the baby. What other issues and deep set feelings does this event bring up in the woman and her family? 

3. A man swimming alone in a hotel pool late one night overhears or sees something he shouldn’t that puts him in danger. He tries to leave only to discover he is trapped. How is he trapped? What did he see? Where can he hide from the imminent danger? What is the danger? Is it a person? People? Something unseen? 

Who is this poor man who has found himself in this situation? Is he himself innocent? Or has got a terrible secret of his own? What is he afraid of? Drowning perhaps? How unfortunate for him…

4. There lies in the far corner of the world, a small lake. If you go out onto that lake and find a certain point and drop any object into it, the object vanishes into thin…water…

What the person who drops that item doesn’t know, is that when the object vanishes, it appears somewhere else in the world at a random point in time and space. 

What if your character drops something truly important to them. They must find a way to get it back. So their adventure begins…

Or alternatively, who is in the vicinity when the object appears randomly elsewhere in the world or universe and how does it affect the person who witnesses that object appearing. 

5. Someone moves into a new house. Soon after they start receiving letters from an unknown person, sent to the previous owner. One day out of curiosity they decide to read them. Then they decide to start replying…

Who is the person writing the letters? Who is the person reading them? What sort of effect are the letters having on their life, their personality…? Why does the new owner open the letters in the first place and then why do they reply? Does the letter-writer realise? 

How to develop your idea - Your characters

Before you set about writing your script, whether it’s short or feature length, I would advise you to think about your characters first. Ask and answer some questions about them.

  • Who are they?

  • Why are they here right now? What got them here, to this moment?

  • What are their darkest fears?

  • What do they want in life?

You will find yourself writing a much stronger plot if your characters are strong and have a lot of depth.

The plot

Once you have strong characters with interesting personalities and traits and obvious desires, you can start sketching out your storyline.

What happens in your story should directly link to your main character’s needs or desires. The story is either offering that need to them and they have to go get it, or it has taken something they loved away from them and they must retrieve it.

Make your character work. Make them suffer. That doesn’t mean you can’t write light-hearted and happy, all it means is that you take your character’s traits, their fears and place almost all their fears as an obstacle before them.

For example, in the idea where the two friends witness the same event but recall it differently, it would make it more interesting if one of those characters had witnessed the event and seen their worst fear coming to life, or witnessed someone they really truly respect do something terrible.

Why? Because this is what makes a good story. Drama. When we tell and hear good stories amongst friends, our attention is often held because the stories are about people we know in situations we can’t believe they ended up in.

Sketch out your plot like this

  • Inciting Incident - Something that gets this story rolling (e.g the letter arriving in idea 5)

  • Rising Action - Your character is faced with choices and obstacles

  • Climax - Your character’s journey comes to a head, they are faced with a huge obstacle and hit their lowest moment where all seems lost

  • Resolution - They either fail or overcome and should have learned something or grown in who they are on the way

Work HARD on this bare bones structure. Make sure every section is interesting, nothing fluffy or vague. At every section your character should be really into the story, working hard against inner or outer obstacles and the obstacles should be very clear to your audience. Getting this bit solid will make your film. I promise, from experience I can tell you, this part is really important and the more time you spend writing and thinking about your story structure, the quicker and easier the scriptwriting will be!

Please leave any questions in the comments and you can find helpful videos on filmmaking over on The Director’s Logbook on YouTube