Lights, camera…blank. You eagerly sit down to write your next masterpiece short film only to find yourself staring at a cursor blinking mockingly on a blank page. How do you even begin to dream up that perfect premise to showcase your cinematic skills?
Fear not, aspiring filmmaker. You’re far from the first to face the dreaded enemy known as “writer’s block”. But creative concepts are all around you – it’s simply a matter of looking at the world through the right lens. Let your imagination wander, observe interesting characters, and find inspiration in everyday events.
In this extensive guide, you’ll discover 127 short film ideas spanning a spectrum of genres to ignite your creativity. With compelling concepts for comedies, dramas, surrealist experiments, and more, you’re sure to find inspiring premises to kickstart your next cinematic work of art.
Read on as we explore a trove of unique, unexpected, and thought-provoking short film ideas that will have you yelling “Action!” in no time.
Coming up with a great idea is often the hardest part of making a short film. You want a concept that’s creative yet doable given your resources and constraints. Finding that perfect premise can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But great short film ideas are all around you — observe the world closely and you’ll find endless inspiration. Life’s everyday moments, interesting characters, and unique locations can spark fascinating stories.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover 127 short film ideas across a range of genres and styles. You’ll find thought-provoking dramas, funny comedies, found footage concepts, simple premises for beginners, and much more. Use these ideas as a launching pad to ignite your creativity and develop a compelling short film.
Let’s dive in and explore over a hundred short film plots, concepts, and stories that will kickstart your next cinematic creation!
14 Dramatic Short Film Ideas
Dramatic shorts pack powerful punches by exploring emotional themes and high-stakes situations. Here are 14 intense, moving premises for your next dramatic short:
- A grieving widow grapples with moving on after her husband’s death. She struggles to let go of his belongings.
- Two brothers reconcile years after a childhood betrayal tore them apart. They rehash painful memories from the past.
- A teenage girl contemplates suicide after being cyberbullied online. Her parents remain oblivious to her suffering.
- A survivor of abuse attends a support group therapy session. They each share their stories of trauma and healing.
- A strained father-son relationship is put to the test during a wilderness hiking trip far from civilization.
- In his old age, a lonely widower battles isolation and declining health with his only comfort being faded memories of his departed wife.
- A child prodigy struggles with immense pressure from her parents to succeed. She craves a normal childhood.
- A recovering addict tries to resist temptation and stay sober despite the influence of toxic friends.
- A shy, introverted boy attempts to work up the courage to ask his crush to the high school dance.
- Two siblings bicker as they’re forced to spend a weekend alone without cell service after their car breaks down in a remote area.
- A stranded undocumented immigrant seeks help from strangers while avoiding border patrol, fearing deportation back to danger.
- A pregnant teenager weighs whether or not to keep the baby and the different futures each choice represents.
- A family road trip is derailed by a heated political argument that surfaces deep ideological divides between loved ones.
- A terminal cancer patient lives out their final days by making amends, crossing items off their bucket list, and imparting wisdom.
16 Funny Short Film Ideas
Laughter is powerful medicine — craft a funny short to delight audiences. Here are 16 humorous premises:
- An extremely clingy first date won’t stop awkwardly hanging around after multiple goodbyes — much to their date’s dismay.
- A perfectionist obsessively prepares for a job interview but faces escalating ridiculous obstacles that ruin their plans.
- A bored teen stirs up trouble by people watching in their apartment complex and spinning wild stories about their neighbor’s drama-filled lives.
- A classic “parent trapped” scenario where two sets of parents get stuck together on a disastrous blind date that their meddling adult children set up.
- A vanity-obsessed character gets a pimple right before their high school reunion and dramatizes it as the end of the world.
- A slacker scrambles to hide every item in their messy room when their crush unexpectedly drops by.
- A hapless burglary goes hilariously wrong as two wannabe thieves break into a creepy haunted house by mistake.
- A stubborn old man insists he can set up new-fangled technology without help — leading to comical mishaps.
- A neurotic hypochondriac is convinced they’re dying from increasingly absurd fake diseases and drives their doctor crazy.
- A pet owner is horrified when their precious dog or cat calls 911 to report them for “animal abuse” like lack of treats.
- A passive-aggressive office worker sabotages a co-worker through subtle annoyances rather than confronting them head-on.
- A wild night ensues when friends sneak into a casino underage using fake IDs that make them look nothing alike.
- A slacker pretends to be an ultra-productive person whenever their perfectionist significant other is around.
- A wannabe fitness guru fails spectacularly at showing off exercise moves in a viral video audition.
- A valet driver takes customers’ fancy cars for joyrides when they aren’t looking.
- A pretentious foodie couple has an escalating meltdown when a restaurant gets their complicated order wrong.
10 Found Footage Short Film Ideas
The “found footage” style gives shorts a raw, realistic vibe. Try these 10 concepts:
- An explorer goes missing in the woods, leaving behind only disturbing tapes showing what happened to them.
- Amateur ghost hunters get more than they bargained for when investigating an abandoned asylum, haunted house, etc.
- A couple’s romantic camping trip takes a scary turn when they have a possible Bigfoot encounter.
- A YouTube prank channel posts its final video showing a dangerous prank going horribly wrong.
- A vlogger unexpectedly captures the outbreak of a zombie virus, alien invasion, or other apocalypse.
- A documentary crew films the paranoid final days of a doomsday prepper awaiting the impending end of the world.
- A teen runaway documents their experiences joining a dangerous cult through secret videos.
- A police officer’s body cam captures them discovering a horrific crime scene or encountering something supernatural.
- A whirlwind Vegas trip gets crazy when a partier loses their friends, phone, and memory of the prior night’s wild events.
- A road trip takes a nightmarish turn as creepy occurrences are caught on dash cam footage.
11 Thought-Provoking Sci-Fi Short Film Ideas
Transport audiences to imaginative worlds with these 11 science fiction concepts:
- In the distant future, an elderly person passes down memories to their grandchild about what life was like back in 2023.
- An artificial intelligence becomes self-aware and reflects on the nature of existence and identity.
- In a dystopian world, reading is illegal and a rebellious girl secretly learns anyway, chronicling her dangerous quest for knowledge.
- A clone tries to prove they are human and deserve rights rather than being viewed as corporate property.
- A parallel universe story explores how different key life decisions lead to vastly divergent realities.
- In a technologically advanced society, a hacker gets trapped inside virtual reality cyberspace.
- After a catastrophic global famine, an underground organization fights back against the corrupt government hoarding scarce remaining food supplies.
- Humans live on a space station after Earth becomes uninhabitable. A crew embarks on a dangerous mission to search for a new planet.
- A genius kid invents teleportation but faces dire consequences when the technology falls into the wrong hands.
- In the far future, an elderly person is put on virtual life support where their consciousness can eternally exist in a simulated reality.
- A shape-shifting alien infiltrates a high school to learn about human behavior — but ends up sympathizing more with the students.
12 Unique Character-Driven Short Film Ideas
Compelling characters are at the core of great shorts. Consider these 12 fascinating protagonists:
- An insomniac woman roams the city streets at night, encountering intriguing after-hours characters from different walks of life.
- A shy fast-food worker reveals an incredible singing voice when they think no one is listening.
- A widow bikes across the country scattering her late husband’s ashes along the way. Quirky misadventures ensue.
- A teenage tech whiz helps neighborhood seniors with everyday gadgets and forms touching friendships.
- A 75-year-old woman attempts a journey to complete her bucket list before dementia steals her memories.
- A young child claims they can see ghosts that are invisible to everyone else.
- A streetwise granny who knits sweaters for shelter dogs also dishes out sage advice to troubled teens.
- A charismatic salesman reflects on how his gift of gab has helped and harmed him throughout life’s ups and downs.
- A vibrant centenarian looks back on a century of world events and reminisces about crossing paths with history.
- An eccentric small-town folk artist gains viral fame when their unusual roadside creations are shared online.
- A busker who plays guitar for subway commuters brings joy through music while dreaming of their big break.
- A parking valet forms brief yet intimate bonds with customers as he gets glimpses into their lives from the contents of their cars.
15 Music-Related Short Film Ideas
Strike a chord with music-centric shorts like these 15 concepts:
- Rival band members must overcome their animosity and work together when the lead singer quits on the eve of a big gig.
- A singer-songwriter pours their heartbreak into a poignant breakup song that becomes an unexpected viral hit.
- The history of a historic concert venue is explored through stories of its legendary past performances over the decades.
- A gifted young drummer bravely pursues their passion despite discouragement from unsupportive parents.
- The different lives of buskers in one bustling subway station intersect as they each hope their talent is noticed.
- A shy teenager finds friendship and a sense of belonging after joining a rambunctious drum line.
- A symphony musician plays a beautiful solo piece on the streets of a city where passersby seldom stop to listen.
- Archival footage spotlights the meteoric rise and tragic fall of a renowned rock star whose star burned out too soon.
- Rival college a cappella groups face off in a high-stakes championship performance.
- A musician seizes a precious opportunity when a legendary producer attending their small gig invites them to his studio after the show.
- A singer reflects on the impulsive decision early in their career to walk out on their controlling manager.
- The tour bus antics of an up-and-coming punk band erupt into chaos during their first national tour.
- A motif of musical notes connects the stories of diverse characters whose paths wind and intertwine.
- A music store owner looks back on his most memorable customers throughout the decades.
- A musician takes a soul-searching road trip to the places and clubs where they got their start.
10 Coming-of-Age Short Film Ideas
Explore those pivotal adolescent milestones with these 10 teen movie premises:
- On prom night, LGBTQ teens hold an alternative anti-prom that proves more authentic for outsiders.
- A teen’s relatively stable life is upended when their absent parent unexpectedly returns.
- After a traumatic bullying incident, a teen forges an unlikely friendship with the only classmate who stood up for them.
- Best friends and recent high school grads reunite at their old teenage hangout spot on the eve of going their separate ways for college.
- A teen attempts to break unhealthy patterns and cycles by forging a path, unlike their troubled parents.
- An industrious teen tries to secretly raise funds by mowing lawns, babysitting, etc. after their family falls on hard times.
- After unexpectedly making the cheer squad, a shy girl must navigate mean-girl hazing rituals.
- A teen seeks a sense of heritage and identity through learning a parent’s native language and culture they weren’t raised in.
- Two high-achieving teens push each other to unrealistic extremes in an obsessive academic rivalry.
- A gifted yet disadvantaged student strives to beat the odds and get accepted to an elite magnet school that could be their ticket out.
9 Simple Short Film Ideas for Beginners
Keep it straightforward with these 9 concepts well-suited for first-time filmmakers:
- A pizza delivery driver recounts odd experiences and memorable customers from their job.
- Amusing mishaps arise during a group project as procrastinating college students pull an all-nighter to finish a big assignment.
- Neighbors eavesdrop on the dramatic marital spat unfolding on the other side of a thin apartment wall.
- A perfectionist foodie flies into a rage when they discover a new restaurant got their complicated order wrong.
- Two friends hike to a scenic viewpoint and reflect on life’s big questions.
- A shy person tries to work up the nerve to ask their crush on a date.
- A phone call delivers life-changing news, both good and bad.
- A character gets ready in the morning and delivers an interior monologue during their amusing daily rituals.
- A bored slacker kills time people-watching at a local cafe or park until an intriguing stranger catches their eye.
8 Surreal Short Film Ideas
Bend reality with these 8 surreal concepts:
- A magic refrigerator keeps producing strange new food items that spark uncanny events and consequences.
- A person is stuck in a maddening time loop where the exact same day repeats over and over again.
- A character’s shadow develops a mind of its own and refuses to follow them anymore.
- Someone realizes the world around them is artificial when they discover glitches in the matrix of everyday life.
- An ordinary object like a penny, umbrella, or key takes a surreal journey as it changes many owners and alters their fates.
- A mystical tree has the power to show anyone who touches it visions of their future.
- Aheatmap representing human emotions surfaces how we are all interconnected.
- A notebook passed down through generations chronicles family stories, dreams, and secrets in vivid drawings.
7 Experimental Short Film Ideas
Get creative and avant-garde with formats using these 7 experimental concepts:
- The five stages of grief are explored through abstract dance.
- A couple’s complex relationship unfolds across split screens juxtaposing their contrasting memories.
- Everyday noises like a ticking clock, barking dog, or leaky faucet trigger emotional flashbacks conveying backstory.
- A story is conveyed purely through the protagonist’s browser search history and apps.
- A historical figure is brought to life through the ingenious use of archival media and peppered interviews.
- A rotoscope animation overlays live action to represent surreal inner thoughts and dreams.
- A miniature documentary follows ants in an anthill going about their industrious daily activities.
8 Absurdist Comedy Short Film Ideas
Get weirdly funny with these 8 absurd premises:
- A pet goldfish leads a secret double life after its owner goes to sleep each night.
- A man develops a rivalry with his own reflection that starts acting independently.
- A personified sock puppet runs for high political office on a satirical platform.
- A man tries to return increasingly ridiculous items to a customer service counter just because he can.
- A Charlie Chaplin-esque bumbling burglar has a series of misadventures trying to steal balloons.
- A man trains rigorously for the most mundane tasks as if they were Olympic sports.
- A jellybean demands to know its purpose in life from the factory manager.
- Two stone statues have inane debates when no one is looking.
7 Dark Comedy Short Film Ideas
Make ’em laugh with these 7 morbid concepts:
- Two hitmen swap stories about their worst botched jobs while awaiting their next target.
- A boy nonchalantly tells his class how he murdered each previous teacher at sinister show-and-tell sessions.
- A funeral turns into a fiasco when the presiding priest keels over dead in the middle of his service.
- A couple live streams their dysfunctional dinner date, encouraging viewers to bet on when they’ll break up.
- A germophobe is driven to insanity when a smear won’t come off their glasses lens.
- A Perfectionist serial killer scolds their victims on their lifestyle flaws before dispatching them.
- A cynical girl decides she can only solve her bullying problems by becoming a bully herself.
There you have it — 127 diverse short film concepts ripe for exploration across genres and styles. Let these premises spark your creativity to come up with your own fresh ideas. Remember that compelling characters, intriguing relationships, and imaginative worlds will make any basic premise shine.
The key is finding a story only you can tell. Look within your own passions and perspectives. Draw from your own experiences and observations. Put a unique spin on universal themes.
With a standout idea as your north star, you’re ready to bring your short film vision to life. Action!