How to grab the right idea

And when an idea dies on you it is, in fact, one of the best things that can happen. Because you ve just saved yourself an enormous amount of time and grief. Some ideas just don t want to be written. They don t want to be written by you. Some ideas have fooled you into thinking that they have more power than they, in fact, do. If you find that out after writing a first draft, you ve wasted a lot of time and you ve also lost faith in yourself because you believed in something and you couldn t pull it off.

Paul Schrader

You won’t have one single solitary idea. You’ll have plenty. The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff. First thing you must know is that nothing goes to the garbage can, as i’ve said before, you should save all your ideas, mostly won’t be useful by themselves, only combined with other idea, so even if you discard it now, keep it around.

You have a list of ideas, it’s time to highlight some of them based in a question to yourself “Would you watch this?“. If yes, underline it, otherwise, discard it. It’s really important for a writer to incorporate different personas in the craft, according to Maurice Blanchot it already happens; you can’t read your own work as the writer of it, you gotta break your writing to turn into the reader.

The writer cannot abide near the work. He can only write it; he can, once it is written, discern its approach in the abrupt Noli me legere which moves him away, which sets him, which obliges him to go back to that “separation” which he first entered in order to be attuned to what he had to write. So that now he finds himself as if at beginning of again and discovers again the proximity, the errant intimacy of the outside from which not make an abode.

Maurice Blanchot

Whenever you realize that the YOU whom writes is different than the YOU whom reads, then you’ll manage to get the most important feedback amidst all: YOURS. Self-criticism is the first step to select a good idea and is significant because it evolves with you. Along with your learning of the craft you’ll be in reach with several ideas and experience will make it easier to filter for the ideal one. You’ll be the one working on this idea, so you must be comfortable to do it, although you might be still insecure about the idea, which moves us to the next step.

A good idea is comfortable.

Get some outer-feedback. If your self-criticism is not as sharp and it should, you might get cocky and too confident after your self-evaluation, to prevent that you gotta expose your idea, however, don’t go to your hipster movie goer friend you’ve met on MUBI, you want to please a regular person and rouse its attention into your idea, since they won’t be biased. Pitch your idea under a camouflage, don’t say straight away that it is your idea, tell you watched a movie with your idea or anything like that, it’s more important to read the listener’s reaction than their opinion. That’s like asking if they “would watch this“. This is the moment when “story of an outsider boy whom must seek for a new reason to live after being dumped by his girlfriend” idea falls apart. This will be called as a hipster idea from now on.

A good idea hooks the listener.

Now that your idea grabbed someone’s attention, you gotta get back to your desk and seek for more self-criticism. “Can this idea evolve?” is a key question at the moment and its answer will change along the writing. Until you finish the first draft of the script, it’s all about writing. Write, write, write. Just get the story done. In the middle of this process you’ll find the answer to this question right in front of you. Still, if you can’t take your idea to another level right away, it doesn’t seem like it is the best moment to spend your time on it.

A good idea seems promising.

Notwithstanding, one of the most important things to have in mind is that a short film is mostly visual; due to a matter of time, you must focus on showing and telling your story visually. If la photographie, c’est la vérité, et le cinéma, c’est vingt-quatre fois la vérité par seconde, according to Jean-Luc Godard, then a 120-minute feature film has 172800 truths to be told. A 5-minute short has 7200, so you better use them well. The spoken word takes much more time to be absorbed than the mise-en-scène. A “Hello” wastes 24 frames, to say the least. For this reason, your idea for a short film must have a strong image, because you won’t have a lot of time to introduce and develop it.

A good idea has a strong image.

This strong image thing looks bullshit, but you’ll find out there are several great short films that are purely visual masturbation. It works. Think about strong images and you’ll be in the right direction. To illustrate that, one of the best short films i’ve ever seen:

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1 Response to “How to grab the right idea”



  1. 1 Tabellavita’s Process « tabellavita Trackback on May 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm
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