Tips and Tricks: Brainstorming

In order to assist you on your engflick journey we are going to provide you with some tips and tricks over the coming months. These will help you develop your ideas and assist with you with the process of making a short film, all while gaining a little insight into engineering.

Engineering consists of a diverse range of disciplines which can make it difficult to think of a great idea for a short film. Engineers face a similar issue when asked to solve a problem and then have to think of the best solution that will resolve the problem. One method that engineers utilise is brainstorming. Brainstorming can be an information goldmine to get the creative juices flowing, or if done incorrectly can be a potentially frustrating waste of time.

Brainstorming is not unique to engineering and is often used within office or school environments to help generate ideas. However, engineering teams are generally more comfortable with a lot of argument, a lot of debate and a lot of brainstorming. Brainstorming is about allowing a fresh pair of eyes and experiences to provide inspiration for the best possible solution, or in this case: a engflick short film idea.

Before you start brainstorming, consider consider these tips to enable a productive brainstorming session.

Write Down and/or Sketch Everything
Brainstorming is all about capturing every idea, good or bad. So make sure you have some paper, pens, whiteboards, post it notes, or whatever you feel comfortable to use to write down the ideas.

As you will be brainstorming for a short film, don’t think that brainstorming is just for writing down facts. It can also be used to visually brainstorm ideas by sketching the ideas on paper or using images that relate to your ideas.

Start General, End Specific
At the start of your brainstorming session, shoot out ideas under a rapid fire approach with whatever pops into your head. The ideas should be numerous and widespread, if similar ideas are being presented take a moment and think of something completely unrelated.

Once you have a diversity of thought, the next step is to consider quality of the ideas and to refine the best ideas. It’s a best to reduce the ideas down to about three good ideas that you can focus on and improve. From these three ideas you will be able to choose the best idea that you think will work for you.

Have Fun, Be Ridiculous and Go Crazy
Have fun. Brainstorming shouldn’t be boring, it should be fun and entertaining. Embrace crazy unrealistic ideas and think outside the box. Surprisingly the worst ideas can unexpectedly be the best ideas (Just ask Oolong the rabbit). To think like a ridiculous crazy person, think about what you would do if money was of no concern, if time was no object of concern and you could get any actor/actress you wanted to be in your short film.

Brainstorm the Theme and Object
For the engflick short film competition it would be a good idea to brainstorm some ideas on how you plan to address the theme: “Engineering – No problem too big or too small”. To brainstorm the idea, ask yourself these two questions:

  • What does the theme mean?
  • Why does the theme mean that?

Of course, don’t forget about the object! For 2015 the object is “A Measuring Device”. Think about what a measuring device is and how you can incorporate it into your short film. Will it be the main feature or a small prop? Will it be a measuring device that people generally think of or will it be something that people don’t know about? Will it be old or new?


Think About Your Story
Every good short film has a story. In simple terms a beginning, middle and end. You’ve brainstormed the theme and the object, now brainstorm the story. Ask yourself a lot of questions, and think about how the object might relate to your interpretations of the theme. Are there key words, events or images that you thought about during your brainstorming? You might want to do some Google searches and see what images, news, or other people might be discussing about your ideas.

Think About Constraints
Engineers are always learning to work with constraints, as the most creative solutions can occur when we are bound by constraints. The Napoleon Dynamite movie was constrained by a very limited budget but managed to produce a movie that became a classic hit and earns millions.

Now you have some ideas about your theme, object and story, examine what makes these ideas potentially appealing to the broader audience that you will show the short film to. Examine how you can make some of the unrealistic crazy concepts you had become realistic. In order to make these ideas become realistic, think about what resources you do have. What filming equipment do you have or don’t have? Where could you potentially film? Will friends help out? How will you edit your film? Will you have music? Will you film it or animate it?

Get Brainstorming
As you can see, brainstorming is all about asking a lot of questions and accepting any possible answer. Experiment with different combinations of ideas, explore what excites you and enjoy the process until you think you have the best possible combination that you think could make your idea a potential winner. Don’t be afraid to set time limits, or to take a break and come back later. If you go crazy and have fun, then the brainstorming process can be enjoyable and you will be surprised by the results.

Do you have some brainstorming tips and tricks that you would like to share? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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