Coming up with the next creative and innovative story can be frustrating. Getting your initial spark of an idea can feel harder than impromptu heart surgery, or worse … public speaking.

If that’s you I might have the trick you’re looking for.

When coming up with concepts for a film often time it starts with a simple image or idea, rarely a fully formed concept.

Take any idea floating around in your head and sketch it out (or ask a friend who’s stupid good at sketching to do it for you) and create your story around the picture.

Yeah eventually you’ll need to do the leg work of fleshing it out, but sketching out a picture that’s stuck in your head is a great way to bring it to life for you.

When George Lucas was coming up with concepts for Star Wars he hired conceptual artist Ralph Mcquarrie to sketch out some of the ideas floating around his head.

From this some of the most iconic moments of the movie were born, including Darth Vader wearing a mask. In the original story there was no helmet, no cape, no asthmatic breathing, there was no Vader.

Not until Mcquarrie thought the big bad would need some kind of breathing apparatus if he were going to be going from spaceship to spaceship (an early idea that was eventually tossed out) and as soon as Lucas saw this image, Vader was born.

Instead of some idea floating around your head you’ll have a visible and tangible concept to work with.

And if you’re that bad at drawing (like me), take a trip to your local art gallery and find a painting, or photo that really speaks to you.

Ask yourself questions like

“I wonder what train they’re waiting for”,

“What’s he screaming at?”

“Why doesn’t that diner have any doors?”

Boom, right there you have an interesting premise.

You might not come up with anything you like right off the bat, but starting off with a picture, or asking questions about what you see around you is a great practice to get you into the habit of thinking creatively.

There’s a filmmaker named Hiroko from Japan who makes a short films based off of clothing she sees “dancing on the line;” the possibilities are endless.

I know it’s almost blasphemous to put ‘habit’ and ‘creative’ in the same sentence, but the real the secret of creativity is learning how to routinely think in new and innovative ways.

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  • While a great many would see him as a hero, there are some that would prefer the term vigilante. Gregory is an aspiring filmmaker who loves writing, directing, coffee and long walks on the beach.

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