Ideas for a short film (7 prompts to get you started)

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Need ideas for a short film? Look no further. Here’s a list of seven ideas for a short film that will get your creative juices flowing. I’ve provided a brief synopsis to get you started, as well as a few suggested genres to explore. Feel free to take these, tweak them, and make them your own. Happy filming!

Marital Troubles

Genres: horror, thriller, dark comedy

A bickering, unhappy couple breaks down on the side of the road at night. While they wait for help, they see something moving in the woods. When they get out to investigate, they are confronted by a horrifying creature, one that they’re not sure if it’s real or imagined. As they try to escape this monstrous beast, they have to decide if they’re going to be able to work as a team to get away, or if it’s every man for themselves.

The Birthday Wish

Genres: horror, thriller, dark comedy

A young girl with a mundane life makes a wish on her birthday candles. The next day, everything is different; her parents are happier, her siblings all get along, she’s allowed to eat candy for breakfast. At first, she’s ecstatic, but it quickly becomes clear that everything is not as perfect as it seems. The cracks in this perfect facade start to show; her parents are robotic and puppet-like, her siblings have a look of fear in their eyes, even her delicious candy is beginning to rot in front of her. She must find a way to undo her wish before her whole life unravels and she’s trapped in this horrifying new reality forever.

The Haunting of Charlotte Anderson

Genres: horror, thriller, drama, dark comedy

An ambitious young woman who can’t ever quite get it right, Charlotte Anderson, loses her much more successful younger sister, Meredith, tragically young. In mourning, Charlotte finds ways to slip into Meredith’s life; spending time with her husband and kids, inserting herself into her friend group, even applying for the prestigious promotion Meredith was being prepped for. Things with her husband turn to romance, Meredith’s friends accept Charlotte as one of them, and she even is selected for the job that was supposed to belong to her sister. Everything is going perfectly. Soon, however, Charlotte starts to feel as if she’s being haunted, followed around by the vengeful ghost of her sister, and she must choose if she’s going to continue living this new life or if she’s going to give it all up and go back to the mundane life she lived before.

The Big Break

Genres: comedy, drama

Jackson has always coasted through life. He’s tall, handsome, and charismatic, and people like to hand him things; jobs, relationships, opportunities all fall into his lap, no matter how little he tries. One day he’s walking down the street when, out of nowhere, a casting agent accosts him and asks if he can model for a fashion shoot they’re doing… right now. He accepts, oblivious to the fact that this is a casting agent for one of the biggest fashion lines in the world. Suddenly, his face is everywhere; magazines, billboards, TV commercials. People are fawning over him, but in order to keep up this momentum, he’ll have to actually try and work hard for the first time in his life. Can he make the most of this big break, or will he go back to coasting?

The Camping Trip

Genres: horror, drama, thriller, comedy

Two couples are excited for their first-ever vacation together, a camping trip to a remote area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’ve been planning for months, and they have everything they need to have a good time… so they think. Almost as soon as they get to their camp site, things start falling apart. Someone forgot the tents, but it’s too late to turn back now, and as they struggle in the darkness to get camp set up, they can’t help but bicker. Alliances form, secrets are exposed… and what is that sound they keep hearing in the woods, drawing ever closer?

The Suitcase

Genres: horror, thriller, drama

James is at home, cooking dinner and enjoying an evening with his partner when the doorbell rings. He answers, but no one is there; on the stoop, there is a black leather suitcase with a note scrawled in red: DO NOT OPEN. His partner thinks it’s a prank and that they should open it, but he’s not so sure. It could be a harmless prank, or it could be something incriminating, or it could be a bomb, or countless other awful things. He has to decide if he’s going to open it, bring it inside, throw it away, call the police… and every time he looks out the window, he swears it looks like it’s getting closer to the door. But that can’t be. Can it?

Girl’s Night

Genres: dark comedy, drama, thriller

A group of women who were close in college but haven’t seen each other in ages decide to get together to catch up. Jenny, the type-A mom friend of the group, has arranged everything; the playlist is popping, the charcuterie board is beyond reproach, the wine selection is incredible. But once everyone arrives, it’s clear that Jenny has ulterior motives. Her charismatic new friend is there as well, and Jenny shares that she’s joined an exciting new women’s wellness group and she wants everyone else to come check it out. It’s clear to some of the friends that this is a dangerous, destructive cult, while others think it sounds intriguing. By the end of the night, some of the women are ready to throw their lives away for this new venture, while others are ready to fight back. 

I hope these ideas for a short film have inspired you! Happy creating, and let me know if you end up using any of these ideas for a short film, I’d love to see the final product!

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Molly Stein-Seroussi


Molly is an author, screenwriter, blogger, and brand manager for New 32 Productions. They are passionate about sharing content that helps filmmakers live a more productive, informed, and well-balanced life. They live in North Carolina with their spouse and way too many dogs.

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