33+ Ways to Brainstorm Movie Ideas [Ideas for Filmmakers]

a man thinking of movie ideas

Key Takeaways:

  1. Reflect on Your Personal Interests: Look at your hobbies and things you love, as they can give you great ideas for stories!
  2. Analyze Your Movie Preferences: The kinds of movies you like can help you figure out what kind of stories you might be good at writing.
  3. Envision a Movie About Your Life: Thinking about your life as a movie can help you learn how to make good characters and exciting plots.
  4. Draw Inspiration from Real-world Issues and News: News and real events can give you ideas for stories that people will find interesting.
  5. Step Outside and Exercise: Doing some exercise can help your brain develop new and creative story ideas.

Do you love movies? Of course you do!

Movies are a great way to escape reality and enter another world.

But what if you could be the one who creates those movies? It’s not as complicated as you might think! Every excellent feature film or short film begins with a great screenplay, and great scripts start with great ideas.

I always have fun with this step of the creative process because it’s where I find I have the most freedom. When you brainstorm, the possibilities are endless, and I love to play the game of “what if” when coming up with new plot lines, characters, dialogue, action scenes, or even names for people and places.

Every single script I ever wrote – from Bare Knuckle Days to Dead Strays toTerra Alpha One – went through this brainstorming process, both at the outset when I was trying to solidify the story idea and characters, as well as throughout the process.

Each time I had to figure out where to take the story next or encountered writer’s block, this exercise helped me figure out what to do next. And I’m sure it can help you!

In this article, we will discuss 33+ ways to brainstorm compelling movie ideas. I’ve used each of these to help me come up with ideas for my own books and movies.

With these techniques, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful independent filmmaker!

How To Brainstorm Movie Ideas

infographic on brainstorming movie ideas

1: Focus on What Moves You

Brainstorming for movie ideas can be fun and rewarding if you approach them with the right mindset. Start by thinking about things that you like and enjoy. What are some of your favorite movies? What TV shows do you always make time to watch? What books do you love reading over and over again?

Once you have a list of topics, try to narrow it down to a specific genre or style of film that interests you. You can start thinking about potential plotlines, characters, and settings.

Don’t be afraid to be creative – the best ideas often come from the most unexpected places! With a little effort, you can come up with a great movie idea or short film idea based on your own story that you’ll be excited to bring to life on the big screen.

infographic on how to find movie ideas: think about what you like

Here are some specific questions to ask yourself when you are trying to brainstorm your own ideas for films:

  1. Take a look at your day-to-day life – what are some interesting events or situations that could make for good movie ideas?
  1. What kind of mood are you in now (sad, happy, angry, etc.)? Would that mood (or the reasons behind it) make for an intriguing movie idea?
  1. If you could create any world for your movie, what would it look like, and how would it function differently from our planet Earth?
  1. What themes/topics have been explored enough in movies already, and don’t want to see more on the big screen anytime soon (or ever)?
  1. Do you have any favorite books or movies that are in the public domain that could serve as inspiration for a new film?

2: What Movies Do You Enjoy?

One fantastic way to come up with a great idea for a movie is to think about the kinds of movies you enjoy in your own life.

One fantastic way to come up with a great idea for a movie is to think about the kinds of movies you enjoy in your own life.

What are your favorite genres?

What themes do you find particularly interesting or exciting?

What kinds of film locations do you like best?

What kinds of imaginary worlds do you enjoy when you watch fantasy or sci-fi movies?

Once you understand your taste in movies, you can start brainstorming movie ideas that fit within those parameters.

For example, if you love a good romantic comedy, you might come up with a fresh idea about a couple who meet and fall in love under unusual circumstances. If you’re interested in action-packed thrillers, you might develop a new spin on a group of thieves who pull off a high-security heist.

By thinking about the types of movies you like to watch, you can develop a wealth of ideas for your film projects.

infographic on how to find movie ideas: consider movies you like

Here are some more questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are your favorite movies, and why do you like them?
  1. What genres of movies do you enjoy the most (drama, comedy, horror, etc.)?
  1. What are any personal favorite movies that don’t seem to get enough love from general audiences or critics alike? Why do you think they’re underrated gems worth watching time and again, regardless of what others might say about them?
  1. If you could choose any location to film a movie, where would it be and why there?
  1. What time period would you like to see a movie set in (or what year)?
  1. If you could choose any existing book to be made into a movie, which one would it be and why do you think it would make for an excellent cinematic experience for audiences everywhere (keeping in mind all the critical factors such as screenplay adaptation, cast selection, directorial vision, etc.)
  1. If you could choose any actor or actress to play the main character in your movie, who would it be and why?
  1. Are there other actors or actresses you want to see in a particular role or movie type?
  1. Which classic story would you like to see remade uniquely, and what would the new take be on the tale?
  1. Do you have any favorite movie scenes that inspire you when thinking of your ideas for films/movies to be made?
  1. Do you have a favorite film character who might be a fantastic inspiration for a new character? Or can you think of a boring character type you’d like to avoid?
  1. How do existing movie loglines describe the core ideas for those films in a simple way? Read them to find out!
movie of your life

3: Imagine a Movie About Your Life

One way to find movie ideas is to imagine a movie about your life.

What would it be like if your life were turned into a blockbuster film?

What sort of exciting adventures would you go on?

Who would play you as the main character in the movie?

This can be a fun way to capture ideas and develop a genuinely original movie idea. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild; that’s what movies are all about!

infographic on how to find movie ideas:  imagine a movie about your life

Ask yourself these additional questions:

  1. If you could choose any actor or actress to star in a movie about your life, who would you choose and why them specifically?
  1. If you could choose any soundtrack for your film, which bands/artists would make the cut, and why did you select them specifically for this project?
  1. Interview your friends and relatives for stories about your time together, and get a fresh perspective on how others see you.
  1. Are there any other family members who have stories worth telling? Dig into your family tree and see what you can find. Think of your own family and your own life… you might find great narrative possibilities!

4: Think of Real Life Issues

To develop ideas for movies, try thinking about real-life events, news, and issues you’re passionate about.

What problems do you see in the world that you feel need to be addressed?

What stories do you know of people overcoming adversity?

What historical events do you find fascinating?

Once you have a general idea of the story you want to tell, start brainstorming specific scenes, characters, and plot points. Write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how wild or far-fetched it may seem.

Then, start refining your ideas and fleshing out the details. The more specific and well-defined your ideas are, the easier to turn them into coherent screenplays during your creative process.

infographic on how to find movie ideas: consider your passions

More questions to think about might be:

  1. If you could combine two seemingly unrelated topics, what kind of movie would that be, and why is it interesting to you as a viewer/consumer of films?
  1. Are there any real-life stories that would make great films if adapted properly onto the big screen – biopics, historical dramas, etc.? Examples could be family stories, world events, or even local current events around you.
  1. Is there a social issue or a particular subject that you feel passionate about and would like to explore through the lens of cinema – even if it’s uncomfortable or challenging to do so?
  1. What news headlines instantly grabbed your attention? Is it a current event or a historical one? How does it apply to our world today?
walk outside

5: Turn Off Your Phone and Go Outside!

There’s no shortage of great film ideas, but sometimes, finding the inspiration you need to get started can be hard. One of the best ways to jump-start your creativity is to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world around you.

infographic on how to find movie ideas: go outside

And what better way to do that than by turning off your phone, TV, and computer and going outside? By disconnecting from the constant stream of information and stimulation, you allow yourself to see and experience the world around you. You might just stumble upon the perfect movie idea for your next film!

Here are some ways you might find inspiration for brainstorming movie ideas outside the four walls of your home:

  1. Get out and explore your neighborhood – take a walk around and see what catches your eye.
  1. Visit a local park or nature reserve and take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors.
  1. Ride your bike to a nearby lake or river and enjoy the fresh air and the view.
  1. Head to the nearest downtown area and people-watch for inspiration.
  1. Take a day trip to a nearby city or town and explore different neighborhoods.
  1. Let your surroundings inspire you – think about the different stories that could be told in that location.
  1. People watch! Look at the people around you to give you ideas for future screenplay character descriptions and ideas for character flaws!
  1. Strike up conversations with strangers – ask them about their favorite movies, short films, TV shows, or books.
  1. Take note of any interesting conversations you hear.

Take a moment to jot down any ideas that come to mind, no matter how crazy they may seem!

How Can I Find a Good Short Film Idea?

One of the hardest parts of making a short film sequence is developing good ideas. You want something original and fresh that can be told in a limited time. Here are a few tips for coming up with a great short film idea:

  • Start with a personal story. One of the best ways to develop an exciting film idea is to look to your life for inspiration. Think about a time when you experienced something unusual or unexpected. This could be anything from a funny incident to a life-changing event. By mining your own experiences, you can come up with an idea that is both personal and unique.
  • Look for stories in the news. If you’re struggling with an original idea, try finding one in the news. Look for headlines that grab your attention, then think about how you could tell that story in a short film format. This can be a great way to add current events to your film without being too heavy-handed.
  • Brainstorm with friends. If you’re struggling to develop an idea, try brainstorming with friends or fellow filmmakers. This can be a great way to get new ideas!

RELATED: Check out my article on how to find short film ideas to find more information on this topic!

movie ideas for filmmakers

Final Thoughts

So, if you’re feeling writer’s block or you’re stuck for an idea for your next movie, try brainstorming story ideas with some of the techniques we’ve outlined in this post.

And don’t forget to have fun with it! The best film ideas often come from letting your imagination run wild!

movie ideas

Common Questions (FAQs)

What do you call movies that make you think?

They’re called “thought-provoking” movies and are the kind of films that stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Thought-provoking movies make you question your assumptions and reevaluate your beliefs. They challenge you to see the world in new and different ways. And they force you to confront the ugly truths we often try to ignore.

What are good topics for a short film?

There are endless possibilities for finding the best short film ideas. One option is to focus on a specific time, such as a wedding day or graduation. Another option is to tell a story over several days or weeks. Alternatively, your short movie could focus on a particular theme, i.e., love, loss, or betrayal. The important thing is to choose a topic that you feel passionate about and think will resonate with your audience and use that for your own short films.

What are good ideas for a film?

There are countless great ideas for films out there. The challenge is finding the right one for you. One great method for capturing ideas is brainstorming with friends or family members. See what kinds of stories and characters they come up with. Another excellent method is to read books and watch films that inspire you, then try to develop your spin on them. If you’re struggling with ideas, don’t hesitate to contact a professional screenwriter or director for help.

How do I get ideas to write a movie?

When it comes to film, inspiration can come from anywhere. It could be a book you read, a story you heard, or even a personal experience. The key is to take that initial spark of an idea and develop it into a full-fledged plot. Ask yourself questions about the story. What are the characters trying to achieve? What obstacles are in their way? What kind of ending would be satisfying? Answering these questions can help flesh out the film’s basic structure.

What are some good movie topics?

While there are countless great movies, developing new script ideas can sometimes be tough. Here are a few potential topics to get your creative juices flowing:
– An underdog sports team that finally gets their big win.
– A young woman coming of age and finding her place in the world.
– A group of friends who embark on a life-changing journey together.
– A love story that transcends time and space.
– A family who is dealing with a problematic issue or adversity.
– A crime has been committed, and the fallout that ensues.

Looking for more help with creating a great film? Check out these other articles:

How to Write a Screenplay Synopsis: Tips for Screenwriters

5+ Best Screenwriting Software Programs (Reviewed)

5 Top Indie Filmmaking Tips from a Film Festival Director

7 Best AI Video Upscaling Software (Free & Paid)

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