Friday, August 23, 2013

How to come up with stories...

A year ago we had to come up with a few ideas for our pre-production class to create our short film. I mush say that it was quite a challenge! During the process I was fascinated to learn how others came up with their ideas for story. So I have decided to make a list with links that will help people who look for brainstorming techniques, exercises or inspirations for their assignments. More articles about how to make a good story will be posted soon but the main objective to keep in mind when you think about your story is a few things:
1. Clarity - it's important that the audience will be able to understand everything you are trying to communicate
2. Simplicity - some of the most interesting stories sometimes are the most simple ones. It doesn't need to have a huge arc or a complex structure. 
3. Emotional connection - if the viewer cares for the character/s he will be more engaged to the story.
4. Entertainment - see if you have any elements that can make the story more interesting, unique and fun.
5. Unpredictable ending / avoiding Cliché - In most cases predictable stories are usually boring... Just like that moment when we tell a joke and people say: "oh yeah, we heard that one..." yap, try to avoid that. A good way to do that is to tell your friends your story and see if they can guess how it ends. Use their answers to guide you how to improve the story.

Here is great example of a short and simple story by my friend Tom Law
 (He made it in two days!) Check out his other films!
And for the list of techniques and inspiration - since I'm kinda busy this month, I will add more information during weekend, so keep checking for updates!

Eyes from Tom Law on Vimeo.

1. Pick a random images and write your interpretation of what's happening in the scene. You can describe about the time of the day/location/period/characters/etc as much as you want. If you are in a team you can select a few and print them one on each paper and exchange with your teammates and look at what you all wrote. 

2. Five Random Words - using some kind of random word generator (there are tons of them on the internet), generate 5 words. And make a story idea based on them. Try to incorporate at least two of the words into your story-- but, the more the better. Think about how your story would flow, and how it would end. This is a fun exercise for groups, because you’ll be amazed how many different stories you can come up with using the same few words. This is how Lindsey's group came up with their “Ratgirl” story (which wasn't used, but we were very proud of it!)

3. Get inspired and explore other short films.

4. Make a list of things you would like to animate and don't (Genres/characters/objects/locations/abstract). Than try to combine some of those ideas together and see how many new ideas you can create.
(spy movie + animal characters = SpyFox)

5. Contrast - you can add an interesting story just by combing two contrasting ideas immediately makes it interesting (for example, rats are a disgusting thing to have in a kitchen and yet Pixar took an advantage of this to create their feature)

6. Observation - A fun exercise you can do to inspiration is to go with a few friends to drink coffee at a public place (farmer's market is a great time for that, outside of Wholefoods) and as you watch people passing by write a quick story about them. You can guess their name/age/job/personality and what's their current story... This way you can sharpen your creative writing as well as your observation skills.

7. Find inspiration at the museum or the newspapers articles. The more you learn about the world the more stories you encounter.

8. Start reading articles of other story artists! Yeah! Explore the net! Be curious...
Temple of the Seven Golden Camels
The Art of Dave Pimentel


Mary Jane Whiting said...

Ahh thanks again, I've posted this to a group with all the junior CA's, thank you yoav!!! :)

Millie González said...

Thank you so much for all these great resources! This is awesome.

Isabela Littger said...

You are just AESOME YOAV. All these tips are just perfect :)

Thank you so very much!