Where do good ideas come from?

I'm the type of person who absolutely loves using every idea I ever have in some way, but the thing is, I find it hard to come up with good ideas, especially with film. They just don't come as naturally for me as they do for other things. What are some good ways to brainstorm good ideas, and where should I look when trying to come up with ideas? I pretty much just make short films cause y'know, I'm a broke high schooler, so that might be something to take into consideration. Sorry if this is the wrong place to post, I'm still getting used to the site lol
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
For me what happens is im hanging out with a friend and they say something and im like

wait what did you say!

and then they repeat themselves

and im like, no before that, what did you say

and then they say it again

and then WHAM I have an idea and i'm like YOU'RE A GENIUS!!

all cause they said something and it made me think
 
I can't tell you how it works, nobody knows, I can only tell you how it works for me. Sometimes I have no ideas at all, sometimes I'll just wake up one day and have an amazing idea. How to have an idea is perhaps the wrong question. A more significant process that can be mapped out is how to grow, vette, and refine an idea.

Typically they start as a flash of excitement about some concept, as Sean described. While integral, this part of the process is perhaps the least significant. You'll know a good idea when these 3 things happen AFTER the initial excitement fades.

1. The idea is strong enough that it continually spawns other ideas, chronically renewing the core enthusiasm by developing and evolving in fresh and interesting ways. Good ideas have room to grow.

2. Your idea becomes infectious or inspires others. Nothing grows in a vacuum. Picture dragging a lead block across the floor with a chain. Now picture a cannonball with the same mass rolling down a hill and picking up speed. Now you know the difference between a good idea and a bad one, at least when it comes to creative endeavors.

3. The idea develops enough positive aspects that when you begin to burn out on one aspect of it, there is always another aspect that you can focus on for a while as you recover from that burnout. In short, good ideas are multidimensional in nature.

All ideas feel exciting the moment you think of them, but only the good ones hold up under stress testing.

No idea that cannot eventually pay for itself is a good idea (in film). That may sound wrong, but the bottom line is that if you love to create, you will eventually learn to make that process sustainable.

Lastly, it's as important to recognize bad ideas as it is to recognize good ones. I personally have bad ideas all the time. Producing good work is not a function of "learning how to have good ideas" it's more about learning to sort ideas, and knowing which ones to throw away, and which ones to move forward with.
 
For me, my ideas (I believe) are "rooted" from my actual life experiences, good and bad....and I've had my share of both.

30 years ago I didn't possess the same ideas that I have today....Why?..... Because of my experiences from living......not trying to redefine "creativity" apart from experiences....but for me, my ideas "come from" my life experiences, more than they do from creativity.....and thus in the beginning they are more nonfictional than fictional.
 
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sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Yup - for me it's a combination of this + what @sfoster said.

Something that has happened to me, a conversation that I've had... those things give me the kernel of an idea. Then I go to the "what it?" part.
Interesting thats a real thing!
I was actually just playing around with a movie trope

e.g. independence day

Julius: Get off of this freezing concrete floor before you catch cold. Come on.
David: What did you just say?
Julius: You mean about faith? Well, you see, a man can either...
David: No, no, I don’t mean that part.
Julius: What? I don’t want you to catch cold?
David: Duh!
Julius: What’s the matter with you?
David: Genius, Dad! [In the next scene, David introduces a plan to disable the alien ships with a virus.]



 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
I pretty much just make short films cause y'know, I'm a broke high schooler, so that might be something to take into consideration.
Perfect! This is the time to not care about GOOD ideas. Quantity over quality. Get your practice films in. Do your dumb ideas. Do the stuff you think is funny no one else does. The good ideas will hit, and when they do, you've had all that experience.
 
Well that's nice to know! I'm a huge perfectionist so I always try to make everything really good, but it's nice to just goof off and have fun. Back when I first started making short films in 7th grade, we kinda just flopped around the whole time making stuff that nobody would ever see or care about except us, but all that led me to where I am now, hoping to become more serious with film while at the same time still having lots of good times.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
The second thing I would suggest is form a team or production company and create a channel for it. Hold real production meetings and let everyone chime in on ideas but hold elections for who does what, and have one writer, one director, and rotate, etc.
 
I'm the type of person who absolutely loves using every idea I ever have in some way, but the thing is, I find it hard to come up with good ideas, especially with film. They just don't come as naturally for me as they do for other things. What are some good ways to brainstorm good ideas, and where should I look when trying to come up with ideas? I pretty much just make short films cause y'know, I'm a broke high schooler, so that might be something to take into consideration. Sorry if this is the wrong place to post, I'm still getting used to the site lol
EXPERIENCE. Don't STOP trying to come up with ideas. Work that muscle for all it's worth. As a professional screenwriter, I made it part of my actual routine along with writing. Why? Because Hollywood isn't really interested in anything but high concept these days. Streaming is hopefully, making that less true but most of what I'm seeing on streaming is usually high concept too.

Read the news... Sometimes you'll find stories out there that you could never, ever make up... Truth really is stranger than fiction. I can't stop reading anything... Hell, I'll even read the backs of soup cans. You never know when you're going to pick up a nugget that you can tweak into a high concept.

Watch YouTube, read Quora and Reddit. I just watched a short video last night about mushrooms that turn ants into zombies and the hypothesis is that these same mushrooms will eventually jump from ants to animals... Eventually to humans. That's a NUGGET. I'm not into zombie movies so it's not for me but if you take something like that and simply think it through? You can come up with a great idea.

I also like to watch older television series and movies... Stuff from the 40's on up. You never know when one of those is going to have a storyline that, with a little tweaking... Could be turned into a very amazing concept for a film.

I brainstorm but unfortunately, I have to brainstorm on my own... I use a digital recorder. Anytime I get an idea for anything? I record it and just let it go until the recorder is full. Then I download all those .mp3 files to my laptop and listen to them one by one. This may take me several days to complete. I listen to my original recording while I have a wordprocessing document open and as I listen? I almost always have new notes to add to the mix. I simply file all these documents into a folder called "High Concepts."

Go to Amazon and browse through whatever type of fiction you enjoy watching as a movie... Look through the top selling books in in that genre and read through their short synopsis on the sales page and see if there's a concept there worth tweaking. Sometimes it's as simple as slamming two different concepts TOGETHER in order to create a great high concept.

Go to Google News and read through the top stories... Eventually, you can get through them pretty fast. If you're reading an article that's NOT providing you with any inspiration? Skip it and go on to the next article... I read through all the categories... Technology, Health, etc.

The MORE you do this kind of stuff and MORE? The more you exercise that part of your brain and eventually? You're on autopilot... i.e., you're always focused to turn damn near ANYTHING you come across into a concept for a story. Just takes practice.

Good luck!
 
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I have to apologize, I was in a hurry when I responded to this, and I just read the title, skimmed the comments and responded. Had I taken the time to read the original post in full, I would have offered different advice. I think what I typed up is good advice for 39 year old people trying to make film pay off their mortgage. At your age, there are no wrong answers when it comes to art. Experiment and have fun. I think everything important has been said by others already. Unknown's post has a lot of good advice. Create all the time, until thinking like that is a habit, and some of the ideas will be good.
 
The second thing I would suggest is form a team or production company and create a channel for it. Hold real production meetings and let everyone chime in on ideas but hold elections for who does what, and have one writer, one director, and rotate, etc.
That's EXACTLY what I wanted to start doing next year. My hope is to form a little production company within my school as I know a lot of people who would want to go into the film industry and I think it would be really cool for all of us to have this experience. I have a whole bunch of plans and ideas for stuff we could do, just thinking about sitting around in a room coming up with ideas and writing stuff and everything else makes me so excited!
 
Thanks to everyone for all the advice, too! Nate, the criteria you gave for good ideas is super useful, and while I will still try to just experiment with everything, it'll be really good to have those in mind when determining if something is still good to do since my perfectionism will inevitably seep in a little bit. Unknown, I'll definitely be checking all those places to find ideas, your advice helps a lot, and I'll probably be using it quite often. Bean Counter, I will do my best to live life and learn from my experiences to come up with some cool stuff. Having been a military kid my whole life, I've been to a lot of places and can definitely find stuff from all those experiences. sfoster & Aspiring Mogul, talking to friends is great advice for this, I came up with an idea for a whole feature-length movie during PE a couple days ago with my friend, and it was really cool to see how that stemmed from us talking about bottlecaps. I should like make a list of all the advice people give me on here, you all are awesome!!!
 
The best question for creative people is "What if?" What if... aliens invaded, a plague got loose, there was a nuclear war, animals could talk, you got drunk and can't remember what you did last night, and a million others. Most of them have been done in one way or another.

It all comes down to presentation. You apparently have a fairly deep well to draw upon; make use of it. Try mashing up things that don't seem to go together.

And, it may be a good idea now, but.... And the reverse is true, it may not seem like a good idea at the moment, but....

Good Luck!!!!
 
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