Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Come Up with a Story

I recently went to meeting where a group of people were trying to come up with an idea for a short film. They were totally ready: Four rather new Mac laptops, at least two iPhones, and not a single PC in sight.

After listening to what they'd come up with thus far, I leaned in and asked, "So what do you want your movie to be about?"

This group had spent the previous three hours talking about potential plot lines--a guy is given a hundred dollars, a girl finds someone she'd been looking for, two cows tell jokes, a guy does odd jobs, a crazy lady hands out odds and ends that have secret meanings--but had yet to give me an actual story.

"If you want your movie to be about the value of life and friendship, then do your movies about $100. If you want your movie to be about the importance of persistence, do the flick about the girl," I said. "But first you have to figure out which story you want to tell. The other elements are easy, after that. The hard part is figuring out which story you want to tell."

It is really hard to come up with a good story. And, for as cool and with it as Apple's gadgets make you look, they aren't going to help you become more creative. They may be "intuitive" and have some really snappy features--which ultimately allow you to create faster--but they do not make you creative. And this plagues Hollywood too. Look no further than Apple Trailers to be reminded of how often media producers have to really reach for an idea.

But enough with the downer message. There is hope!

My brother-in-law pointed me to Best Ads on TV.

Here are people who have come up with and told creative and compelling stories. And their movies don't tend to drag on for five minutes. Often, they tell a tale in 30 seconds.

That's good filmmaking when it comes to shorts.

So stop trying to make a feature.

Stop writing ten minute films.

Don't even sign up for a three minute festival.

Instead, try to shoot a few thirty second commercials that tell a story.

Then start thinking about making longer films. Because before you start making movies, you need to come up with a story.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Anonymous said...

brilliant. you hit the nail right on the head. i will be digging through this site. thanks for the link Luke.

Luke Holzmann said...

Dan, glad you like it here! I'm very happy whenever someone gets here and finds they like it <smile>.

And thanks!