crumpled up paper with movie ideas, an empty notebook, and a slate

12 Ways to Brainstorm Creative (And Original) Movie Ideas

Every filmmaker knows it and no one loves it: writer’s block.

When you desperately want to create a showstopping feature or short film, but you can’t think of any good ideas that haven’t already been done, that’s when it can start to feel frustrating, or maybe even like a lost cause.

That’s when you took to the internet in search of some inspiration and landed here. Well, you’re in the right spot because we’re sharing 12 original ways to brainstorm movie ideas.

1) Browse Online Forums

People have all kinds of crazy ideas, questions, and dreams. And many of them take to the internet to share things about their life or seek answers from different perspectives. Online forums can be a gold mine for movie ideas. Check out sites such as:

  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Stack Overflow
  • GameSpot

You can even find story prompt forums on Reddit where people share story ideas out the gate. Or, you can check out some advice forums and get creative by using one of the questions to inspire a plot line or film character.

woman looking for movie ideas on her laptop

2) Search Odd Newspaper Headlines From Your Hometown

Even though it rarely makes the national news, every small town across the country is chock full of newsworthy stories. Scour old newspaper headlines from your hometown or towns and cities in the area. Don’t be afraid to go pretty far back in time to see what you can find. Who knows, you just might land on your next big film script idea.

You can also click for random articles on Wikipedia, which can have a similar effect. Who knows, you may just find the inspiration you need in a randomly generated article about something like:

  • The Nusretiye Clock Tower in Turkey,
  • The German fantasy board game “The Dark Eye,” or
  • Richard Dickel, a New Zealand basketball coach.

The possibilities are endless with random articles and online forums.

3) No Budget? What Stories Can You Tell With One or Two Actors?

You may have heard the popular saying, “Limitation fosters creativity.” That idea certainly applies when it comes to thinking of good movie ideas. And let’s be honest, most of us don’t have millions of dollars to spend on a blockbuster-level film. Most indie filmmakers rely on crowdfunding, friendships, and their own savings accounts.

If you’re working with a low budget, start thinking about what kinds of stories can be told with just one or two characters in one location. What are people forced to talk about at a bus stop or at a kitchen table?

4) Take a Look at Other Artistic Mediums

Art is art, no matter the medium, and there’s a whole world to discover. You may find the inspiration you need while listening to a musical genre you don’t normally enjoy. Or, maybe a trip to an art museum or a local photography display will provoke a great film idea.

5) Center Your Plot Around a Creative Prop

Props aren’t usually the shining star of movies, except for Wilson, the volleyball in “Castaway.” Centering your movie idea around a unique prop can be a way in which you “work backward” to land on a great idea.

Some ideas for creative props include:

  • A name tag
  • A crystal ball
  • A pair of glasses
  • Balloons
  • A stuffed animal
  • Jump ropes
  • Teacups
  • Swords

6) “Write What You Know”

Movie moments frequently happen in our day-to-day lives. If you’ve had a recent occurrence that could lend itself to a romantic comedy, horror, or drama short film, you should definitely feel free to glean inspiration from that moment.

Plus, many filmmakers and authors alike draw story ideas from their life as a whole. You can write about your family dynamic, a formative moment in your younger years, or your college experience. It’s up to you how much or how little you want the final product to reassemble your real life.

woman with dreadlocks writing in a notebook

7) Pick It Out of a Hat

If you’re stumped with writer’s block, why not have some fun with it? You can play a game that challenges your creative juices.

Start with three hats (or bowls or bags). Put multiple random ideas for locations, characters, and props into each hat. Then, draw a piece of paper from each one to see which combination you get.

For example, you could end up drawing a sandwich shop ???? for your location, a 50-year-old Wall Street guru ????‍???? for your character, and a birthday party hat ???? for your prop. You can see pretty quickly how randomly drawing these details can spur some great short film ideas.

8) Start With the Ending

Starting with the ending is a popular way to write across many mediums. Maybe you don’t know how you want your script to start, but you do know how you want it to end. Start by writing the ending and work backward— filling in the blanks with necessary characters and plot devices.

9) Collaborate With a Friend

Most things in life are better with a friend. Why not set aside some dedicated time at your favorite coffee shop with another creative friend and brainstorm ideas together? The creative process of collaboration will allow you both to bounce ideas off each other until you land on something stellar.

two women collaborating outdoors

11) Eavesdrop on Random Conversations

People watching is one of the best ways to get inspired. Dedicate a few days to hanging out at restaurants, parks, and coffee shops. Bring your laptop or a notebook, and write down anything interesting you see or hear people talk about.

You may get lucky and sit right next to someone spilling a juicy story to their friend. You can even generate character descriptions based on people you see walking by in the park.

12) Stream of Consciousness Journaling ✍️

Last but not least, tell yourself that there are no wrong answers. Sit down with a pen and a journal and just write everything that comes to mind.

An excellent prompt to get your brain working is “What if?” Ask yourself, “What if I could go back in time and fight in World War II?” or “What if I had to fight off a poisonous snake?”

If you imagine the wildest scenarios in detail, you may be able to glean an original story idea from your journal.

Still Stuck With Writer’s Block?

Even if you try all 12 ideas on this list, you may still be stuck without a winning movie idea. That’s where the pros come in. Here at Stringline Pictures, our expert team of producers is well-versed in every aspect of film production, including scriptwriting.

The best part of collaborating with Stringline is that it feels like working with friends you’ve known for years. So, if you’re still stumped with your screenplay or any other aspect of the film production process, you can count on our full-service agency to lend helping hands where you need it most.

Let’s work together!