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How do you guys come up with ideas?

Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 7:52am

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no_hole

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I'm just curious on how you guys come up with an idea for a movie? For instance do you get a small idea, like one scene, then build on that? or do you picture the whole movie at once. Do the ideas just seem to come out of thin air? I guess what i'm trying to ask is do you think you have to be a born filmmaker or could say the average joe create a film.

hope you can understand the questions alright.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 8:07am

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NickF

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I work backwards.


I think of the ending to a movie and then work out why that happened smile


Like Tarantino razz
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 8:08am

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Serpent

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I actually get a general idea and me and my friend's build a plot off that. We usually sit and think for a bit pitching ideas etc. I like to make scifi films when it's long, and I think I'd like to make a silent short film. I get ideas for those all the time from real life situations.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 8:36am

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Simon K Jones

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Ideas I have for stories tend to sprout from real-world events, either in my own life or in the news. Most of my stuff tends to be fantasy/sci-fi oriented, so often it's just a matter of taking a real-world situation and running it through a sci-fi filter.

It's also important to let the brakes off your mind sometimes, so that it can leap from one idea to the next. Your first idea might not be anything special, but keeping working at it and evolving it, and your 5th idea could be great.

I should probably point out that my stories filter into my written work, rather than films.

Last edited Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 11:50am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 9:18am

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ashman

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Any of those sci-fi ideas you wanna pass my way?

As for coming up with ideas, I work backwards, start with the ending. I then plot the major events and space them out in between, fights and keys to unveiling the plot. I then character build, I write pages on each character to help the actor's flesh them out in there performance. After I have that, I then work on a Draft.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 9:38am

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rogolo

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Whenever I think of a specific thing that can go into a movie (a certain scene, a line, an idea), I'll write it down on a random scrap of paper, and later type it into my computer. Then, when I think of a general idea for a movie, I'll look back on my list of things to inspire situations, scenes, and the story for the movie.

The worst thing about me, though, is I forget things easily, so everything has to be written down or I forget... sad I remember that a couple weeks ago I had thought up the greatest movie idea EVER, but I forgot it after I woke the next day.

(Then again, I did think of that idea at four in the morning, so it could've been a piece of crap that my tired brain thought was genious...kind of like this post! It's 4:30 in the morn', and my first day of school is in 3.5 hours. Huzzah!)
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 9:40am

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SlothPaladin

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Basicly all the ideas I come up with are very bad and are made with lack of sleep while hanging out with friends, we came up with this idea (which I really like) after a Lord of the Ring Extended Edition marathon, we were talking about the most usless super hero powers ever and that idea came up (although it's not quite a super power). But I'm bad at write, so unless I'm trying to make an ultra campy movie I get people that are good at writing and trust me as a film maker to make me stuff.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 11:43am

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Andreas

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I prefer to work from images, thoughts and personal experiences.
I looked through a magazine the other week and found this picture of a girl standing against some wall just looking straight at the camera. Not only did I like how she looked, but also the enviroment she was in. Then I knew I want do do a scene in the same feel as that image.

Then I work from personal experiences or thoughts, which is easier for me then Tarn cause I do drama and comedy not Sci-Fi. So I write down alot of stuff that has happend to me or my friends and then squeze that into the enviroment from the picture example, and keep the story going as much as possible.

After a few these you can easily see which charachters is needed for the scenes to work. Then you just base the story around these happenings and come up with a way to end it and possible introduce everything with a scene or two.

For me, it's not really about going from point A to point B, it's how you get there that's intresting.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 12:07pm

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Redhawksrymmer

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In many cases I here some kind of musical track, song or picture and start working from that..like, what would fit with this kind of music?
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 12:13pm

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petet2

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If you asked a hundred people you'd probably get a hundred different answers.

Sometimes I get an image or a an event which just springs into my mind and I create a before and after to get to that point. Other times I pose a what if question. I like making horror / sci fi so I like the idea of a normal world which suddenly turns on its head.

Think about part of your daily routine - for example, going home and opening your front door. You know what's going to be through there, right? What if it's not the same. What if there's a whole new subterranean world? An alien monster? The police waiting to arrest you? Or perhaps a more subtle change - your wife/mum just doesn't seem like your wife/mum or the house is the same but everything reversed (left to right has become right to left). Start from an idea like that and go through the possibilities - how would your character react, what would they do next.

There are lots of books on how to write fiction (which is what we are talking here), you could get some from your local library. There are some true geniuses with imaginations we can all only admire but there a lot of other decent story tellers who work hard at their craft.

The other two suggestions I would make are:

1. Read as much as you can. I'm not suggesting that you copy ideas from other people but reading keeps your imagination exercised.

2. Carry a note book with you at all times and write down anything you think may be of interest for a future plot. Some mornings I wake up with a half remembered dream and write to down before I lose it completely. Other times you might witness an event or hear someone say something unusual. None of these things on their own would make a decent movie but put together they might be the spark of inspiration you need.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 2:20pm

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Waser

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I'm one of those people who will be sitting there, and all of a sudden an idea will just pop into my head, especially when I'm playing mini golf. For whatever reason, I always come up with my best ideas while mini golfing.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 3:05pm

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SyroVision

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The best ideas come while beating up emo kids at my local mall, ill be punching them or lining up the trajectory of my next waterbaloon of urine, when suddenly mid swing ill think; "Yeah! A Monkey and a Banana are flatmates! ITS PERFECT" the rest of the story pretty much wrights itself...


But seriously, most of the time my ideas for storeys (which usually are adapted to books I write and DnD/D20 sessions, as opposed to used for cinema) come while I reflect on the day late at night.

Some times ill wake up and have an urge to write, some times I just cant sleep and something amazing spills onto the page and sometimes it just plane works itself out...

Really when it comes down to it, my ideas come from the massive lack of sleep I get.

So... Insomnia... that’s where my Ideas come from.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 4:02pm

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Oeyvind

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I get ideas from lots of different happenings.. If something happens to me or in the news or anything that I think could work on the screen I write it down, twist it alot, add charecters ect. Or I listen to movie score and go like "OK, this is some impressive music, I'd like to create something to match that" and I often picture different scenes while listening to music. Or, me and my friend sit in my room and write script and then we come up with ALOT of crazy ideas, and many of them are actually useable! razz

Oeyvind
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 7:46pm

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Fill

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I get an idea and like a little kid go around my living room pacing and acting out the movie. It's quite scary. Yes, Ben. I acted out the movie you're making before I gave you the idea. razz

What's amazing is that I never write my ideas down but somehow I remember them thoroughly. It would be wise of me to write it down anyway. smile
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 7:48pm

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no_hole

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Great replys! its really interesting to see the different ways people come up with ideas
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 9:13pm

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Sollthar

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Daydreaming... mostly while listening to filmmusic and sitting in a train or bus, waiting to arrive at my destination. I mostly start with a "feel" for a new film, no idea about the story yet, but I feel I want to have for it. Or even just for one scene.
If I WANT to think of something, usually nothing happens. But I'm quite a daydreamer, so I constantly have something on my mind to do. Plus I write down a lot of things I daydream about, then later develop them into a proper story, which is not as much a creative process as it an intellectual one, trying to fill it in with all a story needs to work.

There's a fine line between creativity and craftmanship. Getting a basic idea is the creative part which happens randomly, developing it is the craft I spend a lot of time with.
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 2:11am

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no_hole

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Sollthar wrote:

There's a fine line between creativity and craftmanship. Getting a basic idea is the creative part which happens randomly, developing it is the craft I spend a lot of time with.
Yeah i can dream up ideas but i have trouble crafting them into storys
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 6:42pm

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destron

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Although I have made only a few movies (all of them bad), here's my process:

Normally I'll be listening to music or something, like Sollthar, and I'll think, "Cool. This gives me an idea." If it's a good one, I'll take that idea and "grow" it, adding more ideas and plot points as they come. Usually I'll have an idea for a scene, and I'll stick with that while forming a plot and more shots and ideas around it. Sometimes I'll use a program like MoviePlanner or something to sketch out scenes and shots.
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 7:14pm

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Bryce007

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Dangerous levels of caffiene and cranked music = Best idea cocktail ever. It's also known as the only way I write script.

Last edited Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 11:03pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 7:44pm

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Garfield Street

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I usually make movies off real life stories, except Fantabulous, Inc. (That is an excpetion wink).

I mean I listen to stories from my father, great grandmother, and grandparents. They have great stories and I can get to know them better while creating movie plots and ideas! Its a great way to connect with your family and bounce that energy into filmmaking!

I love this thread. It's cool to hear how people create movies. It just shows that imagination works in weird and wonderous ways! biggrin
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 8:24pm

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TimmyD

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I really do the same thing Sollthar does, with the exception of writing things down. I have an unusually good memory when it comes to my own thoughts and ideas, so thats not usually a problem. I'm an avid daydreamer, and thats where all my ideas come to me. The time I'm best at thinking up stuff is either really late at night, or when I'm mowing the lawn, as odd as it may be. I almost get obsessed with a good idea and just keep building on it all in my head, and when I have something worthwhile, I start writing. I'm currently in the process of actually writing down my first incredibly worthwhile and possible idea, and it's really tough for me to keep myself writing. I've currently got 30 pages of script for this one, and it looks like it's got potential. So daydream, and you will kick ass.
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 10:07pm

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Maxy

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I started off in 2004.....the project was originally called KIDZ but then in 2005 the whole concept changed after I watched Harry potter 3 (because of the dementors)....anyway it all started with one scene and there I was.....my first project now called Dark Times. even now in 2006 I get different ideas and somehow fit them in to the movie (off course i only put in the ones I know can have a back story to back them up).........and to finish it up i already wrote the script for Dark Times 2......and this one i starded from end to beginning.... biggrin
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 10:14pm

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ben3308

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I basically take the two coolest things I can think of, which is kidnappings and robberies, and I spin them one way. Then we either get a robbery (Theif), a kidnapping (SC), or both (Cover's Story).

I'm starting to think my idea isn't gonna work anymore.
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 10:18pm

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Clawgaboozawgis

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When I come up with an idea for a movie or a script, I usually come up with a really generalized version, mentally, of the basic plot. After this, I just sit at my computer and come up with the order of events and following that, the actual script. Now, as I said, the first draft for it is just in my head and is very "primitive". So, as I write the script, I usually surprise myself as I spontaneously get a better idea for a certain scene. Actually, the writing of the script takes quite a while. This way, I allow time for my ideas to further develope and evolve as I write. In conclusion, my concepts for movies are fairly spontaneous, aside from the first draft of the plot.
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 10:39pm

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Sollthar

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I have an unusually good memory when it comes to my own thoughts and ideas, so thats not usually a problem.
As soon as you'll start to think in "feature film" leagues with enough detail to fill 90 minutes, you'll find that an unusually good memory won't be much of a big help anymore, trust me. smile
Posted: Thu, 24th Aug 2006, 10:41pm

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TimmyD

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Sollthar wrote:

I have an unusually good memory when it comes to my own thoughts and ideas, so thats not usually a problem.
As soon as you'll start to think in "feature film" leagues with enough detail to fill 90 minutes, you'll find that an unusually good memory won't be much of a big help anymore, trust me. smile
Haha oh I know, I've planned out all four 45 minute segments of my project... and forgot most of it. The crucial parts I know though.
Posted: Fri, 25th Aug 2006, 2:04pm

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Limey

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I usally think with the props and locations I have to give me an idea of kind of movie I can make. Next I find out how many actors I can get. Then I write the story down and then the script and story board. Then we film it.

Sometimes I have a dream about something and base it off of that.
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 5:23pm

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Nutbar

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The short im working on currently came about because i thought of an idea for a feature length but just cannot affordto make it, so i had a look at the general plot and created a little side story that follows the events of another man, the friend of one of those in the feature.

I once read an article by a guy (cant remember who it was) who said a good story can always be told in 1 sentence. Think of an event, and then fill in the what why where who how.

I've been working on a horror story with a friend for approximately 2 years now, and the way that came about is we wanted to create a story that targeted an audience in a specific way, we didn't want them to be scared by the film, we want them to be scared by their own thoughts. We've developed the events around that really.
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 11:02pm

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Bryce007

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ben3308 wrote:

I basically take the two coolest things I can think of, which is kidnappings and robberies, and I spin them one way. Then we either get a robbery (Theif), a kidnapping (SC), or both (Cover's Story).

I'm starting to think my idea isn't gonna work anymore.
Solution: 2 no-doze and Some blaring film soundtracks in a good pair of headphones. make sure you have a thick pad of paper and a functioning pen..


Thank me later.
Posted: Sun, 27th Aug 2006, 3:56am

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Mr Pencil

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John Waters wrote the script for Pink Flamingoes while he was on drugs. While I don't reccomend that, the movie is still considered a cult classic.

My creative writing teacher told me that the greatest writer's are observers- ones that just watch the world. If you watch what's going on you'll be able to get one hell of an idea. Personally, I observe sometimes and other times I just get ideas out of nowhere (like Waser).
Posted: Sun, 27th Aug 2006, 4:06am

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ben3308

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Bryce, isn't No-Doz illegal? I know there was an actual brand that marketed caffiene pills a couple years back by the same name, but I thought they got banned.

Anything the pill's'll do that a few Red Bulls can't?

As for how I come up with movie ideas: I watch movies. If I see a scene I like, I'll emulate it as best I can while adding my own flair. When SC is released, it'll be obvious the cinematographic and atmospheric processes are made to look like those of Enemy of the State, Bourne Identity, Without a Trace, MI:3, so on and so on.

I noticed recently that The Hit is alot like a scene set in similar location from the Bourne Identity (where Clive Owen is sniping Matt Damon). I dunno if this was any influence, but when I watch movies, I watch for things I like.

I just saw part of the Illusionist while walking through the movie theater, and the part where he makes the plant grow inspired the intro for a DVD menu I was working on.
Posted: Sun, 27th Aug 2006, 8:50am

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no_hole

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Thats awesome guys, keep 'em coming.
Posted: Sun, 27th Aug 2006, 9:05am

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Jazzmanian

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I come to this from a long background of writing, and aside from the technical differences in mechanical layout (thankyou, Rough Draft!) the process hasn't changed much for me. While I too am a big daydreamer, I always find that stories grow in an organic fashion and tend to take on a life of their own as they develop. The scripts I have completed so far all started with just a single scene that I envisioned and thought would be really cool, with only a vague idea of what the entire story, say nothing of the ending, would look like. Even after I think I have a "start to finish" plot, when I get down to the actual writing I almost always find that I've painted myself into a corner someplace along the line and have to scrap some parts and massively re-do others.

For example... the one I'm finishing up now. I started it with an idea for a scene where a guy walks into the flat where some of his friends live and one of his buddies is holding a little stuffed animal on top of the coffee table and pretending to make it talk in a high squeaky voice to the main character as he enters. The lead goes over and takes the stuffed animal away from him, but then it really begins talking to him in a woman's voice. The catch is that a couple of people in the room can hear the toy talking, but some others can't, so there's confusion as to whether it's a real, beyond reality encounter or some sort of mass hysteria.

From that I started working on what else was happening in the story... what the lead was doing before he showed up there, what would take place in the flat after the toy starts talking, if he leaves and where he goes from there. By the time I was done, the whole talking toy idea simply didn't work *at all* with the rest of the plot I came up with and it wound up being scrapped and replaced with a poker game which the lead was going to hold up and steal their money. And even with this much of it done, I've now re-written the ending at least three times and I still don't know if the guy is going to die in the end, or get the girl and succeed, or wind up in jail.

The point is, organic growth of stories is the only way that writing seems to work for me. You never know where the story is going to go since it's so darned hard to predict where your mind will go or what idea will pop up next. But if you stick with it, keep coming up with ideas and writing them down, sewing together the good stuff and being willing to let go of the bad, it seems to develop on its own.
Posted: Mon, 28th Aug 2006, 5:39pm

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destron

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bryce007 wrote:

Solution: 2 no-doze and Some blaring film soundtracks in a good pair of headphones. make sure you have a thick pad of paper and a functioning pen..


Thank me later.
I don't even want to know what you look like when you do that.
Either your eyes are bugged out, have black X's instead of pupils, or both. razz
Posted: Mon, 28th Aug 2006, 9:25pm

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Gnome326

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take a typical already done idea and put a spin on it, or twist it enough to end up with a completely different story.
Posted: Mon, 28th Aug 2006, 11:56pm

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DigiSm89

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I come up with an idea by...NOT coming up with an idea.

I don't stress myself to be imaginative. In fact, I let ideas enter into my head throughout the day, even if they are very much unrelated. Then I sit down and piece together what I have in my head and see what I can do with these different ideas.


Take a look at the world around you and see what interests you. Check out the news, look outside your window, talk to a friend...I'm sure ideas will enter your head this way.
Posted: Tue, 29th Aug 2006, 7:06am

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no_hole

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Haha Jazzmanian from a talking toy to sticking up a poker game is a big jump, but i totally agree with what your saying. Its just funny how you can start with something and then by the end of it it can be totally different.
Posted: Tue, 29th Aug 2006, 5:03pm

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Gnome326

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I don't stress myself to be imaginative. In fact, I let ideas enter into my head throughout the day, even if they are very much unrelated. Then I sit down and piece together what I have in my head and see what I can do with these different ideas.
I do that, too. The best way to come up with idea is to not sit there and try and come up with an idea. Ideas always pop into my head when I'm out riding my bike or running. If I'm doing that with one of my friends whose also into coming up with story ideas, I'll tell him my idea and will play off of that. You could also take one of your dreams and take something from that and turn it into a movie, sort of like what James Cameron did with Terminator. Or you could read a book, decide you like it, and take the same themes and ideas, and maybe some scene ideas and basically make a movie following the same ideas, ect. Although I'd probably alter it quite a bit do to time/budget/location restraints.
Posted: Tue, 29th Aug 2006, 5:06pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Mind bending substances, in large quantities.

I can't actually think of how I come up with ideas. I imagine that events that I experience cluster together in some dark pitfall of my mind to later meld with each other so that they can climb out through the assortment of limbs and tentacles the meld gifts them.

The basic idea for most of my projects comes up like that, then to develop them I sit down with a cup of tea, talk to people about them and listen to music - sometime's a track will play and will pretty much write the idea for me.

-Hybrid.
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 4:58am

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WithSwissCheese

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I took classes at UCB Theatre. The long form improvisational techniques for live theatre are awesome for creativity. It used to be I'd be constantly having to force myself to create & adapt new material. But now it's like having a firehose of material constantly gushing forth. It's more about picking the best material than finding it.
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 6:09am

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VRBstudios

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I come up with the very general concept, then add on and get more specific.
Posted: Wed, 31st Jan 2007, 7:41pm

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BringPopcorn

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Digerati Media wrote:

I work backwards.


I think of the ending to a movie and then work out why that happened smile


Like Tarantino razz
Where did you read this?
Posted: Fri, 2nd Feb 2007, 2:53pm

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JTGFIlms

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for my many years of film making before i got effects lab pro i realized to go on with your daily life and as your walking youll have a great idea come to you and clicks in your mind if you try to think it most likly comes out bad to me atleast
Posted: Fri, 2nd Feb 2007, 6:19pm

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Dancamfx

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I usually base it on situations that I find myself in.
Posted: Fri, 2nd Feb 2007, 6:22pm

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jmax

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I tend to get ideas as I'm going to sleep, in between dreams and real life. And then I turn on the lights and write for an hour so as not to let the concept slip away, although so many have.... Curse my sleepiness!