The Spirit Of A Movie: 10 Ideas For Independent Films

The way to come up with an idea for a movie is to take elements you already know and then add a second element. Or different style.

Take an idea that’s already out there – can be another movie, an article you read or a story you heard about… maybe even an event you were part of – and add something new.

Don’t try to force that new part. Often, our brains only need a primer, they can then bridge gaps fairly easily.

This exercise seemed tough for 5 minutes – and once I had picked my initial ideas, the rest came relatively quickly. From there on, it was easy.

One idea begot the next one. Until I hit some snags up the road. But eventually, I got it done.

By the way, creativity moves in interesting ways. I wrote down the ideas below two days ago, and now that I read them again, I start blinking my eyes in disbelief.

This is what I came up with? One more argument for writing ideas down at the time you get them. Good that I did.

So here are my ideas.

Independent Films Pixar Lamp
The Pixar Lamp, one of the first 3D rendered animated objects

#1 – Finding the light.

An old lamp that has been forgotten on an attic for 50 years is discovered.

People try to switch it on and immediately, the light bulb burns out with a ‘bang’ – so they leave it on the streets to be trashed or picked up. But instead, the lamp starts walking on its own with a mission to find a new lightbulb. It learns about how the world has changed, but friendship is always the same. It befriends a toaster and finds a loving home eventually. And a light bulb.

I think my inspiration for that movie comes from the Pixar Movie “Luxo Jr.” that I saw a couple of decades ago and “Finding Nemo”

#2 – Alien-i

An alien from another dimension gets rudely awakened from its slumber when humans discover its colony.

It is mercilessly chased down and has to defend itself from bullets and mad scientists that want to throw it into a pot of acid.

It’s basically “Alien”, but from the perspective of the “monster”.

I got inspired by the observation that we can be hostile towards those that we don’t know. Once you see the “villain”’s side of the story, you start to sympathise.

In addition, HP Lovecraft wrote a short story: “The Outsider“, where the protagonist experiences hatred and fear from the others… only to later reveal that he tells the story from the perspective of the monster.

#3 – Pi

The Chudnowski Brothers live in a basement, entrapped with computer technology so vast that the whole apartment becomes unbearably hot, especially in summer.

Their sole life purpose is to calculate the number Pi to as many decimal places as possible.

In the movie, they would not seem to succeed, but what they don’t realize is that every single new digit they discover/calculate has an impact on the world outside.

In ten different ways. For example, they say “3!” – and a woman passing by their window on the street realizes that someone close to her has a three-year old daughter that she buys a gift for.

Another one hears “5!” and uses that as winning number in a lottery.

This movie would show how the universe gives back and you can make an impact, even though you might not realize it. It has elements of chaos theory applied to everyday life. And these events can have some funny, scary, philosophical meanings etc.

#4 – The unbearable lightness of time.

A scientist attempts to invent teleportation.

When he tries his machine, he sees a bright flash, but apparently nothing is happening.

So he thinks his machine malfunctioned and gives up on the project.

Only step by step, he becomes aware that in his presence, time behaves different. Some parts in his environment rapidly age, others are normal, for a third set of items, time seems to go backwards.

He now has to untangle the time strings that have been mixed up using his machine.

In his quest, he realizes that the stories he tells himself about the past are just as real as those that happen in the future. What is real? What is only a story that we tell ourselves?

#5 – True crime

Somebody is murdered over Christmas while the whole family gathers.

Thus, one of the family members has to be the killer. But everyone has an alibi.

Halfway through the movie, another family member dies – and that is when we realize it’s the narrator who killed those people!

The remaining family members now have to race like hell to stop the narrator, who has all the power in the world to place them in harm’s way – he is the narrator after all.

Their only ally is the factor that the narrator has to stay within the realm of natural laws (he can’t just have them killed by letting the house explode, for example); he has to also stay true to the original storyline he placed each family member.

Who will win?

I sometimes wonder how much freedom an author really has once he has constructed the storylines of his characters. They have to fit into the narrative he spun for them, and once you have done that, the story has to stay consistent.

I also wanted to comment on the fact that some authors callously murder their characters whenever it fits into their storyline.

How much can the storyline evolve? How far can you take it?

#6 – Deus Ex Machinae

We uncover a secret society that exists to “save” movie plots or storylines by sending a “Deus Ex Machina” idea or device.

For example, if someone writes a story so unlikely that it becomes difficult to finish it properly, a “Deus Ex Machina” idea would be that the protagonist simply woke up and realized everything was a dream.

Now, however, unknown forces start destroying those “Ex Machina” devices, and one cop and his partner have to hunt those forces down. If they don’t stop them in time, unlikely stories will unravel in the worst possible way.

However, they also learn that by letting stories play out, not everything ends in catastrophe without the “deus ex”. Sometimes people are just not daring enough or tough enough to try out endings that don’t seem favorable.

#7 – A magical reality.

Independent Films Cascade Falls
Cascade Falls, Thomas Moran


This could be a fiction/documentation/nature style of movie.

The movie simply tells the stories of three different “wonders of nature”.

For example, how did cave paintings come about? So maybe we could witness a “caveman society” in their everyday lives.

What was the impact of the meteor that struck Siberia in 1908?

How do are hot springs and geysers generated?

I would paint a bright and beautiful picture of the events. Mostly without words.

#8 – Dunbar’s number

Gary Vaynerchuk once said that Internet and Social Media have put us in the same situation as “Small Town America” in the first half of the 20th century. Everyone knows everything about everyone. If “Bob the Butcher” gave you a bad cut of meat, you’d tell your friends and his business takes a hit. Same as now – if you screw someone over, he tweets about it, and your reputation is in danger.

So this movie could show how different events unfolded: (a) in small town America in the 50s; (b) during the 60s to 90s; (c) after 2000.

It could be three generations of the same family.

Events could be:
#1: a stranger arrives.
#2: somebody gets murdered.
#3: two soul mates find each other.

What are differences, what are similarities?

In small-town America, people saw each others “in the flesh”, but did not realize what else was out there, because they could not reach out beyond their own social circle.

Nowadays, we are connected to people on the other end of the world, yet do we really know them if we are not directly interacting with them?

And the title of the movie? Dunbar’s number basically states that we can’t handle more than 150 people. Has that changed over the years? Can we now handle 150,000 people? Or are we coming up with 150 categories to slot people into what we can still control?

#9 – Yes.

It’s simple. Two people from different backgrounds (e.g. one a scientist, the other an artist) embark on a mission whereas each one has to say “yes” to whichever offers they get.

One year later, they get back together and recount their experiences. In which ways have they changed? Are they now more powerful than before? Or are there areas which they neglected?

This movie will basically ask the question – how do your talents matter when you explore the world? Did the opportunities change over time?

#10 – The life of a book.

A book gets read by one person and given away to the next one.

The man reads it and forgets it on the subway. What happens to him and what happens to the book? What happens to everyone else who finds the book and reads it?

If you want to check out “Become an Idea Machine”, you can do so here.

Yesterday’s challenge: Click me!

What is this challenge about? This link will teach you more.

And to get back to the main page, you can click here.

Can you imagine a movie you’d like to make?

Do you have a favorite movie?

Thanks for reading and let us know in the comments below!

(Pictures taken from Wikimedia Commons.)