Helping my Idea Generation
Coming up with ideas is something that definitely comes easier to some, but it’s a skill that everyone can develop with enough dedication. The more you immerse yourself in film and actively try to come up with ideas, the easier it is, because you absorb knowledge and you learn what points need to go into an idea to make it good.
For me, my main struggle with ideas generation is motivation. I become easily disheartened if I can’t come up with an idea that I think has potential and even when I do, the pressure of actually having to make the idea a reality is too much and I find it easier to instead set it aside for “another day” (i.e. it stays undeveloped in my notebook). I also struggle finding inspiration. Beginning a new project is daunting and sometimes I don’t know where to start drawing ideas from.
For me, I think the most important thing to combat my lack of motivation and inspiration is a bit of a lifestyle change. Instead of spending all my time in the house, on my phone, I should spend more time going for walks, eating healthy, visiting new places, essentially anything that involves taking care of my mental and physical wellbeing. I know that if I feel better in myself, my mind will be calmer, collected and more receptive to new ideas. Also, by getting out the house more, I will be surrounded by new and changing scenery, meaning there will be a lot more inspiration for me.
Today was dedicated to creating a strong base for our ideas generation. The biggest danger when trying to come up with ideas, is tunnel vision; deciding on an idea straight away and becoming so attached to it that you don’t allow room for alternate ideas to come to life. If you want to make a film based on a theme, you have to explore that theme before you do so, because this ensures that you’ve thought it through fully and it inspires new ideas that you wouldn’t originally have thought of. It also means that if your plan for one film falls through, you have multiple developed ideas as backups. The exercises we did today helped us to keep our options open and helped my mind feel clear and concentrated.
Mind maps are a great way to explore something because they don’t have a set end, you can keep adding until you’re getting down to very specific points and this is usually where ideas start to rise from. I find these diagrams the best way to write up ideas, because they allow me to write down thoughts without too much thought and revisit points I made that I might otherwise have forgotten or not taken the time to consider.
From these mind maps we made, we pulled a few points that we took away to do a bit of research on, to see if we could split them up into some more specific points. I chose to research future identity, because it seemed like quite an interesting and complicated topic. It’s all about how the life you are exposed to as a child shapes who you are when you grow up. There’s lots of information online about all the different cultures of the world and how they can influence a person. This idea could be taken in lots of directions, there’s an opportunity to bring up cultural appropriation, immigration, the celebration of individuality etc. For me, it made me think about how different people can be once they’ve grown up compared to when they were kids, once they’ve built up an image for themselves. I think childhood honesty could be a really interesting base for a film.
Going for a Walk
Walking is a fantastic way to help idea flow, because taking time away from phones and computers allows you to draw inspiration from the real world around you. I used the walk as a time to contemplate the ideas we had explored during the brainstorming session, to see if I could start to expand on them and form them into some sort of idea.
This is my unedited stream of consciousness that I wrote down after the walk:
Nobody knows your true self but you, everyone who sees you has a slightly different image of you in their head. Children show their truest form to the world, because they haven’t yet been conditioned by society and not only have they not yet learned how to control their emotions, but they haven’t yet learned that they need to. I think if you are of sane mind, it is altogether impossible to hold onto this childhood innocence, because as soon as you become even slightly aware of the world around you, you become lost in it. Even those who claim to be free of society, the “free spirits”, are still attached to it, conscious of it and have to actively avoid it to carry on portraying this lifestyle they’ve created.
Why tell stories?
Telling stories is something humans have always done, right back to cavemen painting on the walls of caves. The thing that prompts us to tell stories, to share with others, is the simple fact of being human and searching for those connections and emotions within each other. Stories allow us to live in other lives for a while, to experience something other than everyday life and to escape.
Defining what a story is, is difficult. It’s giving information over in a way that’s interesting to the viewer, that’s relatable and emotive to them. With every story, there’s always that emotional arc in it that leads to an ending and an ending must be in a different place to the beginning. For a story to be satisfying, it’s important there is some form of journey in there.
Before I started trying to pin down any ideas, I wanted to first explore why I’d been attracted to identity as a theme. I hoped that connecting it to me personally would be a good base to build an idea from, because as I’ve confessed before, I often find the beginning of ideas generation daunting and am never sure where to begin. I used this to narrow it down a bit and provide me with some inspiration.
This mind map led me towards three topics that I felt could work as film ideas, they are the ones circled with pink. The thing that seemed to interest me the most about identity was the thought of how unique and interesting people are. Everything from the way people move to the way they dress has a beauty to it that I want to document and that’s why this point pulled two topics from it. But identity also made me think about how difficult it is for someone to feel comfortable in their own skin and how so many people in the world feel lost.
I took these three points and expanded on them in a separate mind map. I started this new map so that I could explore all of them in greater depths, with the intent of having at least three actual workable film ideas once I’d finished it.
The pink arrows are the points that I felt had the potential to be film ideas.
- Hiding away from society in a box (a film to highlight the controlling nature of society and how difficult it is to escape that)
- Someone forgetting who they are and finding out something bad once they’ve pieced the memories back together (a film to explore the parts of a person that make up their identity and the assumptions we make when we look at a person)
- Someone who had disassociated with the world has an experience that changes their view on everything (a film to portray the feeling of being lost in the world and also the value of human life)
Deciding on a main idea
Idea 1: Hiding away from society in a box.
Expanding on the idea:
“The film focuses on a uni student living alone in a small, messy apartment. They’re responsible for looking after people’s souls from birth to death,a role their family has taken on for generations and the souls are represented by glass jars littered around the apartment. When the film starts, you see they’re tired of managing the souls, they’ve stopped seeing them as people and just see them as a chore. Only one day they lose one of the souls, they are forced to face up to the fact that it was actually a human life and this wake up call changes their view on the whole soul keeper situation.”
I got lots of constructive feedback from my peers on my idea. Through the 10 pieces of feedback I got, there were a few queries that were repeated by multiple people.
- Why a uni student? Is it necessary to the story?
- How are you going to clearly get across to the audience that they’re souls?
- How are you going to communicate the information you need to with just one character and almost no dialogue?
Why a uni student?
This is an interesting point and something I’d never considered, but I can see why people were questioning it. I picked “uni” as a way to explain the sort of age I wanted my character to be, as well as to explain their state of living, because this ‘disheveled youth’ look is one that you see a lot in the gritty realism dramas that inspired the kind of aesthetic I want in this film. But if someone is looking after souls, which is an incredibly important job, would this setting make sense? I think I need to do a bit of experimenting and try changing the setting of the film up, as well as maybe the character, to find one that makes sense to the story.
How are you going to show that they’re souls?
I’d already stated in my paragraph that I’d imagined the souls being represented by glass jars, because it means they can be put all around the apartment, on tables, shelves etc. and I think that filling them with something that’ll make them stand out, like little lights or coloured water, could make for some very nice shots. However I understand that that wouldn’t make it obvious enough and I think the only way to properly get it across that they’re souls, would be to include it in the dialogue somewhere. This would probably mean I’d need to bring in another character, so I need to have think about who they might be and how they’d fit into the story.\
How are you going to communicate information over with almost no dialogue?
This is essentially the same problem as the last question and I think the best way to solve the problem will be to consider a second character.