“Without going out of doors one may know the whole world”
Not very helpful if your looking for something to make a movie about about but it is a good place to start finding your inspiration. What does it mean, after all it was written about 2500 years ago by a crazy old Chinese man who wore dresses. While philosophers may argued the meaning since it was written and will continue to argue it long into the future I offer you a storytelling interpretation.
Let us jump a couple thousand years ahead in time to 1988. When Journalist Bill Moyers interviewed noted Mythologist Joseph Campbell. Here is part of their conversation
Moyers: Take the creation story in Genesis, for example. How is that like other stories?
Campbell: Well, you read from Genesis, and I'll read from creation stories in other cultures, and we'll see.
Moyers: Genesis 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and Earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
Campbell: This is from “The Song of the World,” a legend of the Pima Indians of Arizona: “In the beginning there was only darkness everywhere-darkness and water. And the darkness gathered thick in places, crowding together and then separating, crowding and separating...”
Moyers: Genesis 1: “And the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, `Let there be light`; and there was light.”
Campbell: And this is from the Hindu Upanishads, from about the eight century B.C.: “In the beginning, there was only the great self reflected in the form of a person. Reflecting, it found nothing but itself. Then its first word was, `This am I.`”
Moyers: Genesis 1: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male ans female he created them. And god blessed them, and god said to them, `Be fruitful and multiply.`”
Campbell: Now, this is from a legend of the Bassari people of West Africa: “Unumbotte made a human being. Its name was Man. Unumbotte next made an antelope, named Antelope. Unumbotte made a snake, named Snake... And Unumbotte said to them `The earth has not yet been pounded. You must pound the ground smooth where you are sitting.` Unumbotte gave them seeds of all kinds and said: `Go plant these.`”
I don't bring up these comments to try and convert you to any one particular religion but to prove in a sense the importance of Lao-Tzu's statement. If these eerily similar stories have appeared in America, Africa and the middle east during vastly different time periods. With seemingly no communication between the civilizations then we must assume to some degree that we can know the world through our spiritual selves. That is a good place to start looking for inspiration for any movie.
Whether it be through meditations, a long walk or dreaming. Here are some examples about what other great-thinkers and storytellers have said in the subject.
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
“All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.”- Jack Kerouac
The next place to look for inspiration would be the budget that you will have for your short film. This of course up for much debate amongst many film makers. You will have to decide what kind of filmmaker you are in order to find inspiration here. There are two main camps:
1. Show me a script, and I'll show you a budget.
2. Give me a budget and I'll show you the script.
Two opposite sides of the same argument and neither is right but one will better fit your style of film making. The first is more common with the “Hollywood” style of film making. Where they have what an unlimited amount of money and therefore unlimited budgets. This can result in great movies with the highest-paid actors, directors and cinematographers working at the top of their game. It can also produce big-budget special effects extravaganzas that have no plot and you forget what you have watched the moment you walk from the theater.
The later is used more in independent film making where budgets are smaller and resources restricted. This can produce an incredibly creative film where the filmmakers are forced to invent new and cheaper ways of making a movie rather than using old, standard techniques. In writing these scripts one can find a great amount of inspiration by limiting the scope of the film and forcing yourself to be creative and come up with new fresh ideas.
The last place you may choose to look for inspiration is the the endgame. What do you hope to accomplish with your short movie. It could be as simple as just get some experience, put it on-line, enter it into a local festival or just show your friends. It could be as ambitious as using your new film to prove to investors that you can make a movie. If they likey your movie they should give you money to make an independent feature film that a studio will buy and release.
In looking for inspiration here first take a look at these two short films that have become feature films:
Peluca (2002) which would become Napoleon Dynamite:
Alive in Joburg (2005) which would become District 9:
In conclusion if you are looking for inspiration for your short film first look inside and find the ancient story that you want to put your own personal spin on. Second find inspiration in your budget. Third decide what you want your film to ultimately do for you.