This guide contains a list of our top 18 short film ideas for students to help you get your creative juices flowing and get you started on your next project.
From the hundreds of film ideas we’ve come across, we compiled the following compelling ideas to help you draw inspiration and develop robust concepts for your upcoming films.
(While we’re on the topic of inspiration for short films, may also like to discover some great vlogging ideas too.)
So, if you; ‘re looking for a creative short film idea for your next student movie project, let’s dive into the recommendations.
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Top 18 Short Film Ideas for Students in 2023
Here are our top pick short film ideas that will spark your imagination:
Silent Short Film Ideas for Students
For this type of movie, you can choose whatever story to narrate as long as it can be conveyed in silence.
You’ll need the characters to be good at clearly using nonverbal expressions and gestures. You’ll also need to make good use of music to aid in conveying the idea of your movie.
Here are a few of the best ideas for silent short films:
1. Voiceless World
The story of this movie is set in a world where people lose their voices for unknown reasons. That way, they won’t be able to communicate verbally.
In such a world, actions and emotions would become louder than words. The film sequences will show how people would adapt to such occurrences.
2. The Mountaineer
The film will record a mountaineer’s experience of climbing a mountain silently.
It’ll reflect the mountaineer’s persistence and feelings at each moment throughout the adventure. You’ll need to use a high-quality action camera for this.
The movie’s story metaphorically represents all the critical life milestones that need focus and dedication.
You should work on conveying this idea throughout the video editing process by adding proper music and effects. Using proper editing techniques can vividly deliver this message.
3. Real Canvas
It’s a film about a poor painter who draws their paintings and lives inside them. The protagonist will paint real places and experiences and then tap on the artwork to enter them.
Once the protagonist touches the paintings twice, they’ll be transported to the location and experience depicted in the painting.
The movie’s main idea is that your imagination can give you the freedom to live many lives.
Short Horror Film Ideas for Students
Horror films can effectively convey messages because of their strong emotional impacts. Here are a couple of horror film ideas you can use for your next project:
4. Who’s Coming
A person reading a horror novel starts to hear knocks at their door.
After a few minutes of being terrified, the person opens the door to find a delivery man waiting for them with a pizza.
You may add more ironic events to the story if you want to include a bit of additional complication, humor, or horror.
The main idea of this movie is that things aren’t always as you expect them to be.
The movie is set in a town where people start losing their faces. They all start to look identical.
You’ll create a story depicting how people would behave when experiencing the complications that can arise when they all look identical.
A VHS effect can help take this horror film idea to the next level with its added grain and noise.
Short Film Ideas for College Students
This list of ideas will perfectly suit you as a college student filmmaker:
6. A Day in a Robot’s Life
This movie’s story is set in a world where robots have become highly intelligent and live side by side with humans.
The film shows how robots would deal with humans and their emotions that they find difficult to understand.
The film will briefly discuss how life would become as robots live among humans. You can cover this topic from many angles.
Choose one that you believe will resonate the most with your audience.
7. The Life of the First Human on Mars
The movie imagines how the first person to live on Mars would start their life on a new planet. It’s up to you to include some complications that will resonate with your audience.
8. An Invisible Person
The movie is about a person who has become invisible for any reason. It shows how this invisible person will approach life in this situation.
To write a good film script for this work, you can simply think of yourself if you grant the ability to be invisible.
Unleash your imagination and write down what you’d do in this situation. Then, pick the most exciting ideas to incorporate into the film.
9. Inside a Suicide Prevention Center
The film is about a life-changing call with a professional at a suicide prevention center. You’ll showcase one or two main problems through the call that drove the person to think of suicide.
These issues can be the absence of social support through a deep depression or any similar story.
Pick a common real-life issue in its extreme case and try to reflect it deeply. You’ll also need to provide a reasonable solution to solve this problem throughout this call.
10. The Only Person Left on Earth
The movie is about a day in the life of the last person on Earth. What would you do if you were the only person on Earth?
Imagine the empty streets and silent world. Picture yourself as the central character and write down everything you believe you’d do in such a situation.
11. Travel Through Time
In this film, the central character will find a way to travel to the future or the past. The film will address this change in time from different perspectives.
You may select a time with remarkable historical events and provide a unique perspective on this time.
There are a lot of topics you may discuss through this film’s idea. There are also several camera movements that you can opt for to make your film dynamic.
Short Film Ideas for High School Students
This is a list of easy yet powerful ideas you can choose for your short film as a high school student:
12. The Sequence of Seasons
The film will show vivid visuals of specific greenery locations and their transformation as each season starts and ends. Your camera will focus on the trees and plants all year long.
Show how the sequence of seasons changes plants.
You may also include an animal in the film sequences and capture how its activity changes dramatically from one season to another.
13. A Day in the Life of Your Furry Friend
The film will focus on the key moments in your dog’s or cat’s day as if you capture life from their perspective.
It’ll showcase all the important moments in the daily lives of the pets from their wake-up until they go to sleep.
This includes how they play, have their breakfast, chase shadows, watch the outside world from the back door, and more.
You can also focus on how your little friend reacts to you and other pets inside and outside your home.
Try to capture as many reactions and real-life events as possible to reflect the pet’s real emotions.
Easy Short Film Ideas for Students
If you’re looking for ideas that are relatively easy to execute, this list contains a few ones you can count on
14. The Nightlife in a Certain City
You’ll start shooting this film at midnight and end as the sun begins to rise.
The film will feature an aerial view of the city first, and then it’ll start to showcase certain streets and activities.
15. Getting Over a Personal Challenge
Despite the abundance of personal challenges stories in movies, creatively executing this idea will still resonate with the audience.
After all, this is a compelling theme as it speaks directly to the heart of humans. Everyone likes to see the journey of personal growth because it motivates them.
The main challenge to include in the film can be financial hardship, a breakup, illness, or any other adversity.
16. Before the Digital Media
The film is about a few children living in a world without smartphones or digital media.
The movie will focus on how these children would entertain themselves without the existence of today’s digital entertainment.
It’ll showcase how interaction with other people would be without the dominance of digital devices and social media.
It’ll also depict how the abundance of entertaining digital devices distracts people and keeps them weakly connected.
Try to replace the voice of smartphone notifications in the film with a non-digital notification like the tick of a physical watch every hour.
After each watch tick, the children will start a new activity.
3-Minute Short Film Ideas for Students
The following couple of ideas can be turned into 3-minute short films:
17. Stranger at Home
After being abroad for 10 years, a man returns to his hometown to find that everything has changed and no one remembers them.
The film will highlight the disappointments the person will experience as they visit places they used to go to and find they’ve completely changed.
It’ll also show how the people that person expected to find are no longer there.
You might include a happy ending to the movie, such as a neighbor who can recognize the returning person.
The ending scene may be the protagonist spending some time with that neighbor.
18. A Close Look at a Local Landmark
The film idea is about highlighting one of your local landmarks and presenting it through your lens from a deep perspective.
You’ll need to capture the place from a wide-angle view. Then, show it side by side with each of the surrounding buildings.
You’ll also capture close-up scenes of the intricacies of the landmark, showing its smallest details.
You might use a soundtrack in the background for events associated with this landmark. This sound design will evoke the audience’s emotions and boost their engagement with the film.
How to Come Up With Short Film Ideas
We’ve listed the above 18 ideas to help you draw inspiration for your next short film. However, you always need to have your own method of generating original film ideas whenever you want.
Here are a few tips to help you easily come up with film ideas:
Keep Yourself Updated With the Latest News
By being knowledgeable about the latest and current events, you’ll be aware of the problems and stories the people are interested in.
That way, you can turn these problems and issues into film stories with the addition of a bit of imagination.
Watch Many Short Films With Analytical Eyes
By watching many short films and breaking them down, you can figure out the elements that make a great film. This will allow you to select your ideas meticulously.
You can watch these films online or attend film festivals where you can meet other filmmakers and expand your network.
Watching feature films can also help you generate creative ideas for short films.
Analyze Your Own Life
If you take a close look at your life and those of people around you, you’ll find many stories worth telling.
Pick a bunch of the most interesting stories around you and think of them as film ideas.
When you add a bit of imagination and dramatic elements to these stories, you’ll likely have winning film ideas.
Still, if you plan to use a story of one of your friends or family, ask for permission first.
Use Generative AI Tools
You can use generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT or Google Bard, to develop ideas for your new films. You’d be surprised by the ideas these handy tools can generate!
Go for a Walk in Nature
One of the best ways to come up with creative movie ideas is to walk in nature. A study by Stanford University found that walking can improve creative thinking.
In addition, being out in nature surrounded by a world of various creatures will inspire you.
By watching nature while walking, you’ll be able to come up with a bunch of ideas, whether related or unrelated to nature.
Short Film Idea Generator
Here are the key points from the Short Film Generator clip shown above:
- Each short film must have four different elements: genres, family and friends, separate pieces of paper, and hats or buckets.
- Label three hats: one for characters, one for props, and one for locations, and write down different options for each category to generate ideas for short films and comedy skits.
- Use a random selection of genres, characters, props, and lines of dialogue to create a short film that incorporates all four elements.
- Use a formula with genre, character, dialogue, and prop constraints to creatively tell a story in a short film.
- Other elements in a story don’t have to be the main focus or come from the main character, they just need to appear somewhere, like a pink umbrella used symbolically or a line of dialogue.
For example: “A guy carrying pancakes gets hit by a street and drops them on the sidewalk.”
Imagine You or a Friend in an Unusual Situation
Imagine someone you know well in an unusual situation, like the person being a superhero, and picture the scenario that would result from this.
Keep the ideas flowing and generate more, no matter how silly the ideas seem. The key is to have as many ideas as possible and then filter them to pick the best.
When you select an idea to proceed with, you can use AI-powered story software to assist you in generating a lot of narrative possibilities based on your central concept.
You can also use screenwriting and storyboard software to craft your scenario.
As the Content Manager of Shotkit, India Mantle brings with her a lifelong love for photography that she developed during her childhood, watching her father document their family moments with his Nikon EM. In her free time, you find her enjoying the awe-inspiring natural beauty of her home, Northern Rivers, Australia.