Where do you guys get your ideas?

Discussion in 'Fan Films, Fan Audio & SciFi 3D' started by Jace Taran, Aug 31, 2001.

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  1. FB Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 3
    getting ideas for a film is not difficult...the real problem is getting GOOD ideas.

    I guess everyone would give a different answer, because no one really knows the misteries of inspiration and imagination.
    It's just something that comes naturally: the more you look for it, the less you'll find it.
    I'm currently working on four different projects: a long music video, a short western, a screenplay based on a beautiful italian novel by Italo Calvino, and my fanfilm.
    I won't say much about the other projects, we're still on a SW board.
    The idea for my fanfilm came to me 6 months ago: I woke up in the middle of the night and I begun writing the plot, the opening crawl, and drawing very rough storyboards of some specific scenes I wanted to see. Then I waited a few days, I read it again, and I begun adding details and various elements to the storyline, trying to figure out which things would work and which wouldn't.
    More than six whole months have passed, and I'm still coming out with new ideas and rewriting the screenplay. I guess (and I surely hope) it'll end once the film is done.

    Going back to your question, (good thread, anyway!), I have at least 5 or 6 ideas for a film everyday: sometimes it's just a picture, sometimes it's a line, sometimes it's a character or a location, and so on...
    The most difficult thing is trying to write a good story out of a tiny little element, or coming out with a good story at all...

    The way it happens, well, it's a mystery :D
  2. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    That's mystery with a "Y", as in "Why are good ideas so hard to come by?" Yes, it is hard to get good ideas...although, even an ok idea can be made good, if you work at it. The more you work at and refine the idea, the better it becomes. It kind of evolves slowly from a rough, general idea to a good, more refined idea. That make sense to anyone?
  3. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    Ok, one last question: How many times do you most of you revise your scripts?
  4. Scott_M Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 24, 2000
    star 4
    Till they're just right.
  5. mythrandir Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 3, 2001
    star 1
    First of all I would like to second Happy Ninja's toilet comment. I have long said to people that my best ideas and solutions to problems have come during the calm contemplation one only finds sitting on the toilet. In fact, I have several patents on the way because of the cooling calm of the toilet seat (I think white ones work the best.. just a theory...)

    However, I have found that my best creative ideas for stories have come from dreams. I have been fortunate to have an extremely vivid and complex dream life. It is not uncommon for me to have dreams continue over the course of several nights in a coherent fashion, and typically they are of complex enough construction that I can take the ideas and create a workable idea.

    This brings me to another point I'd like to make. When coming up with stories, take your flashes of brilliance and the ideas they create and start writing a story and filling in the details. But ALWAYS ALWAYS be brutal and ready to throw out the original idea in its entirety. Just use it to build the story that will naturally appear.

    THEN go back and make it a good story from a story telling perspective. Just because you have a good idea, does not mean it will turn into a good story, and a good story for you, is not necessarily going to be entertaining or interesting or structured in a way as to have value for anyone else. Always remember the medium you are putting your story to.

    Be critical, but never be afraid.

    Ok, I think thats enough of the pulpit.

    Isn't this stuff fun!

    May you never run out of ideas, but more importantly may you never run out of persistance!

    Jeff
  6. Nathan PTH Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2000
    star 4
    Ooh, he's expanded the topic with a new question. Good. I like this thread. :)

    For me, it depends. I figure the best two examples would be PTH and Second Strike.

    For PTH, the writing and rewriting process has been utter chaos. Devon wrote the first one-scene "Version 1, Draft 1" script. He hooked up with Kris and Ryan for V1-D2 through V1-D6.

    Then they almost completely scrapped the entire story. A short encounter with a Guardsman was morphed and a bounty hunter and Imperial Admiral were cut, and it became almost unrecognizable from its Version 1 drafts. By Version 2, Draft 3, Chandler had added his input. When we hit V2-D5, I came in with one scene. That continued with rewrites until something like V2-D9. By that time, they'd had me rewrite almost every single line of the script, which sorta fleshed it out more, but we'd gone through several format idea changes, so it was a little crazy. Even now, as late as the last week or two, a couple of final editing and dialogue tweaks had to be made. We haven't had a good, working, ACCURATE shooting script in ages. So we went through around 20 revisions, I guess.

    For Second Strike, it was all just me writing. I started on March 23, 2000 for the film script, and I added more until it was complete, then went through doing revisions and additions until June 30, 2000. It was almost one new revision each day or two, but it wasn't so much new drafts as tweaks and rewordings, so I didn't keep track of them. Then I picked up the film script and started the audio drama rework in early July 2001 after a year away from it. Again, that was never a series of different drafts, just tweaks as I went along. I rarely printed it out as a separate "draft" because it was 100+ pages. In that sense, I'm still working on revisions because part of the spoken lines is the end credits, and we have no idea what duties to list for everyone right now, since we're so early in the process.

    So . . . I guess I revise until I feel it's "right." Sometimes, there's not much you can do with it, like when you are having to rewrite dialogue to play over previously shot footage. I can't even count how damn many times I've had to go back and revise the dialogue for when we first see the Guardsman and his stormtroopers in PTH. But since there are no moving lips, only actions, it's possible, and we've done it often. But other scenes, like part of PTH Act III requires rewriting, but there *are* lips and such that have to be dealt with. It's a pain in the butt.

    To the point that you actually have leeway in writing, though, I think it's important to keep revising until it feels "right." If something about it nags at you, it isn't "right" yet. There was one line in Second Strike that just bugged the HELL outta me. Here, uhm, preview of a scene. :shrug:

    -----

    EXT ? FERRI?SOL ? BEACH

    The team is gathered at a relatively tall cliff wall.

    JAREN NARRATION
    A short while later, I was proven right. Where we?d expected a straight shot over flat ground from the beach to the capital city, we found . . . a wall. A big, rugged, cliff-face of a wall, right in our way. Whoever coined the phrase ?easy in, easy out? must have been talking about cheap sex, because he sure as hell wasn?t in our line of work.

    JAREN calls to ALDRIC.

    JAREN
    Oh, Aldric . . .

    ALDRIC steps up, knowing he?s about to catch some [crap].

    ALDRIC
    Yes, Commander?

    JAREN
    Didn?t the Intel file say that our insertion point would put us . . . y?know, HIGHER?

    ALDRIC
    Higher?

    JAREN
    (pointing to cliff)
    Yes! HIGHER! As in the same elevation as the city. Somewhere where we don?t have to scale a cliff face with climbing gear we DON?T have?

    ALDRIC
    All you asked for was a shore insertion.

    LANAS
    An entire CONTINENT with nearly uniform elevation along EVERY shoreline, and you manage to pick the ONE place with a cliff face!

    SHISTA
    New Republic INTELLIGENCE, huh? Bunch of sithin? laserbrains if you ask?

    JAREN
    Stow it, both of you. Okay, Rayzurs, change of plans. We find a place here
  7. JediatHome Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2001
    I'd have to agree that ideas won't come to you while you're trying to think of them and the golden throne (crapper) is one of the best places to get your ideas, maybe all that physical train gives your brain a little time to breath...? Hope I get an idea soon

    In fact I think I feel one coming on now *runs to bathroom*
  8. JediatHome Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2001
    I don't usually have a specific number of rewrites, rather than plop down a final version I just sorta mold it through time instead of saying "Ok this is what we're gonna do" and then having to scrap that for the new plan.
  9. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I'll take my ideas wherever I'll get them. Usually it'll come from a nightmare I have, but it can come from just sudden "What if..?" questions that arise in everyday life.

    As for number of rewrites...LOL. Whatever it takes, as was said. I always think I've done the last draft, then I read through it again a few weeks or even days later and revise it again. I'm currently on my third "final draft" of my fan film, with three drafts before THAT.

    M. Scott
  10. Ryebread Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 16, 2001
    star 1
    My film started as an idea for an FX Test. I then worked backward developing a plot in which this particular scene would occur. Sitting down and consciously trying to come up with a storyline would be extremely difficult for me. I'd guess that most movies/shorts begin as a few ideas for key scenes about which a full story is woven.
  11. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    For my current script (three episode series), I've already done three drafts for the first episode alone (with more to come). When I do new drafts, I actually re-write the script, rather than tweaking the original draft. Hmmm...that brings up a good question...How do most of you revise? Do you just go through and make minor adjustments, or do you write up a new version with major changes? I think both have their merits, but I also think that sometimes just tweaking it slowly isn't enough. When you are just doing minor adjustments, you aren't getting the whole picture; you're only concentrating on the paricular section of the script you are adjusting. I think sometimes you have to look at the script from a fresh perspective, look at the big picture, see what works and what doesn't, and try new ways of doing things. Personally, the way I plan on working mine is to keep doing completely new drafts until the basic story and the sequence of events is set, and then go back and tweak the small details (such as the wording of dialogue).
  12. Nathan PTH Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2000
    star 4
    "How do most of you revise? Do you just go through and make minor adjustments, or do you write up a new version with major changes?"

    I'd say that usually depends on what is necessary. Most of the times when I was working on 2S, I may have deviated and revised a lot of my original outline so it fit better, but I was clear enough on where I was going and what purpose each scene served that I never had major, major changes once the first complete version was ready, just minor adjustments.

    For PTH, it seems we've had nothing BUT major changes. That night-time duel sequence that shows up a lot in Trailer B, for instance, has switched PLANETS since Dev came back from training. Scenes have been rearranged to make more sense. Heck, at one point, we were even going to take a sort of "Fight Club" approach to framing the story and start with part of Act III before jumping back to Act I. We've had only major changes since the shooting script was (HA!) "done." But, it was necessary.
  13. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    Ok, nevermind what I said before about the last question. I'm gonna keep asking questions as long as I have any. [face_devil]

    Anyway, here is a question: Do you guys ever get offensive or stubborn or mad or anything like that when anyone points out flaws in your script? I used to...before I grew up. I've learned that I need to get over the neagtive feelings that come when someone tells you something is wrong. I have a close friend that read my script for Dark Threat (my previous fan film, the short, slapped-together one I did for my school's film festival. He pointed out a ton of stuff that he said didn't make any sense or wouldn't work, but I was stubborn and pretty much ignored his advice. I wasn't mean or impolite to him, but I pretty much tossed what he said out the window, because I had written my script, and gosh darn it, I was going to use it! Thank goodness I wised up. For my current script, I listened to pretty much everything he said, because he's really one of the best people I know for picking up flaws in scripts. My current draft (my third, as I mentioned) for my first episode would be nowhere near as good without his input. Handyman could probably tell you how much better the third draft is compared to the second (not to say it's even close to done or as good as I hope it will be, though), after he reads it (sorry, no one else; can't let the secret out to too many people, right? ;)

    Geeze...forget about revising scripts, I need to revise my posts more so I don't have to edit so much! :D
  14. DaftMaul Former TFN Fan Films Staff

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    To try to answer Question 3::

    Well funnily enough I didn't ask too many people for advice while writing my script, and I certainly didn't ask the advice of any Star Wars fans. Why? Because they would have pointed out obvious flaws straight away "Anakin doesn't get whacked by his missus, it's by Obi-Wan" etc,etc, Duuuhhhhhh!

    There is no way a comity would have written Dark Skies. On countless occasions people have since said 'You could have made the same film, but just altered it slightly to make it canon' but I really can't see that at all. For me DS was about a husband and wife battling over their children, with the husband losing, and becoming Darth Vader, not the husband losing and becoming Nobby Stilo - One-armed potato peeler of Alderaan. That was basically where DS started, I wanted to see how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. I have a family who I wanted in this film, and looked at my wife and kids, and Dark Skies kind of fell out of that, the story seemed pretty obvious to me. Infact the ending seemed so bleeding obvious it worried me. Hence I never showed Darth Vader in any of the 'Pre-launch' stuff.

    To try to answer Question 1:

    My 'scripts' begin with a key question I want answering.

    1.How does Darth Vader become Darth Vader?

    Dark Skies was my answer.

    2. Why can't Stormtroopers ever hit anything?

    Storm Ahead will answer that.

    I guess because I grew up on the original trilogy, it's the OT that really interests me, and I like to mess with it. When I hear "My film is set 8 billion years before the Battle of Yavin" I feel a little sad, no Stormtroopers then? No Darth Vader? No R2-D2? :_|

    To ramble on:

    Ultimately these things are VERY personal undertakings, and you absolutely have to do what YOU want to do/see. It's you that is going to be rotoscoping the thing night after night after night, so you'd better be making something you want to see, so I think being single minded does work, I liked the fact that I made DS on my own it was all MY fault, I couldn't blame anyone, I couldn't claim 'That big boy made me do it' and that was fun, and kept me motivated. I would say be cautious of showing too many people your scripts, as they are one big house of cards, that may end up being something you don't really feel like working on, and you can bet your life you will never finish.

    (Daft finally gets down, and packs the soapbox away for another day)

  15. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    True, but another opinion never hurts. Somtimes they can point out things you didn't know where there.
  16. DaftMaul Former TFN Fan Films Staff

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    Absolutely. I'd be stupid to say never show anyone, but just don't show too many people, maybe just keep it to one trusted confidant. I always ran my stuff past Nikki to see if I was okay. The more opinions you seek, the muddier the water may well become.
  17. Nathan PTH Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2000
    star 4
    (Man, I am SO unmotivated today. Killin' time, killin' time...)

    For the new question:

    Personally, I don't take it to heart unless the suggestion or whatever they pointed out goes totally contrary to the idea of what I'm trying to put together. For instance, Second Strike has been made to be a pure drama Act III. None of this epic space battle crap that is so overdone. But when Saeed Sadiq read it, he felt that it needed more physical tension or at least a tiny bit more action for the final segment to really stick. I wasn't sure I liked that, but I played with it and ended up taking the suggestion. I think the final scene is better for it.

    On the other hand, we recently had a situation with PTH that irked me to no end. We had already had a couple of big changes to the storyline in editing. First, we had a very linear story. Then a "framed" story. Then we switched PLANETS for a particular segment. And on that final change, we made it work, and work quite well, I think, and it caused us to have to change a LOT of the companion materials we'd prepared. But it was all well and good.

    Then Dev tried to completely change it all yet again, which would've thrown the sequence back to the original planet, and would've forced some things that have to happen in the story (especially to handle the story basis for some things that would otherwise just be gimmicks) to never have taken place at all. In the end, Devon and I argued about it for a bit, and I wound up being able to get the story to remain as it was, which I think works far, far better.

    So, when comments and new ideas don't mess everything up to the point that it's not only different, but WORSE, then, yeah, I get very defensive and fight for the better idea. But when it's just a matter of polish, if I didn't want to have things suggested, I would never let anyone give it a look in the first place.
  18. sovknight Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2001
    star 1
    I'm sure prolly no one will read this far down into the thread, and I have this weird habit of killing treads anyway, but having read most of the other posts, (and sorry if I'm wrong) but did anyone else mention getting inspiration directly from music? Most of my ideas come as short 7-8 second "clips" in my head that were taken directly from the mood of some music. I see the two entertwined as one entity rather than two seperate pieces. I guess my scenes tend to have a certain rythm to them, even if there's no music playing in the background. I have an entire 5 minute "video" that exists soley in my head in exacting detail that comes from no other source than an old LIVE song. Most of my stuff is developed this way. Maybe I'm just weird.




  19. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    Someone else did mention that he came up with the music first, then the movie.

    Anyway, hears another good question:

    What do you guys think makes up a good, engaging, hi-level storyline?
  20. Nathan PTH Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2000
    star 4
    Yeah, tumblemoster and SaquibS mentioned something about music. Not exactly in the same way, I don't think, but they mentioned it.

    For me, music helps, but I tend to find that music inspires things like trailer ideas for me, not necessarily film scenes. Though, I gotta admit, the Metallica song that is part of the end credits music for Second Strike completely inspired how the final scene expanded out into the credits.
  21. Nathan PTH Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2000
    star 4
    "What do you guys think makes up a good, engaging, hi-level storyline?"

    People. Characters. I don't care how elaborate the storyline may become. If you don't have characters that the audience can identify with and care about, the story is automatically stuck at a lower level than it could be.

    Once you have characters that are fleshed out and "real," though, I'd say that what sets apart a mid- and high-level story is how you use what my old high school teachers used to call "literary devices." Foreshadowing, themes, subthemes, allusions to other works, character development over time, etc.

    Babylon 5, I think, is a good example of the comparison. B5 generally had well-fleshed out characters, but there were times when episodes, usually not written by JMS, were VERY straightforward. There's a problem, they discover the problem, they confront the problem, everything is better. But the episodes that had the best audience impact, and won the most awards, were the ones where you could see echoes of past episodes, groundwork being laid for future episodes, and at least three (A, B, and C) plots or subplots running through the episode, feeding on one another.

    That's the difference between a "high-level" story (drama) or just a well-performed story (simple words on a page turned into action.)
  22. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    It's like what is said in the Fan Films or Films for Fans tutorial, where it says that you have to have personally identifiable protagonists. One good question is, what exactly makes up a good character? How do you create characters that are three-dimensional, rather than cut-outs?
  23. Dags Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 3, 2000
    star 3
    My best ideas come when I'm driving on the freeway - when I'm in one lane just cruising along in "standby" mode.

    The story for Skyforce: The Movie developed because of the situation. I knew it had to be a story that focused around our Star Wars fan club meetings and that a lot of people would need to be involved. I also had to write a film that I knew COULD be filmed. No sense in writing about foreign planets or diverse locations when that sort of thing wasn't available to me. I also deliberately cut any SPFX shots down to a bare minimum so I didn't have to worry about compositing issues or other delays associated with them - I've had enough technical problems with the ones I DO have.

    So once I knew my limitations, I just sat back and invented a basic plot that grew from there.

    The good thing about Skyforce: The Movie is that a lot of new ideas have appeared in the past few months, making me feel glad that I didn't finish the film last year like I was meant too.

    So I'm off to my DoP's place tonight for more sound editing, and then tomorrow night I show the film to my "test" audience to see what they think of it.

    At this stage only a couple of people know the actual story - even my main character is clueless as to what it's about - which is why the test audience will work well as they've not been connected to the production in any fashion.

    Sure it's running around 10 months late, but I think the final product will be a lot better than what would've been last year's "version"
  24. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    ::bump::

    The new threads on writers block and the fanfilmmaking process reminded me of this one. Anyone else have any more stories about how/where/when they got inspiration for a fan films, or any tips for people on how to get into "inspiration mode," or any other comments or questions about the creative process?
  25. tumblemoster Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 1, 2000
    star 4
    I'm bored. So, I've decided to resurect the oldest thread I could find, that wasn't locked.

    Enjoy!

    -tm
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