Ask the Right Questions
Having said all of the above, you still need to know what your next movie is going to be about, if you don’t already, and to do that, you need to have an “idea.” So how do you conceptualize a film? How do you know what story justifies you sacrificing the next few years of your life making? When asked, there are two questions that will give you the answer you seek: (a) What kind of story do I want to tell? And (b) why do I need to tell that particular story?
This may seem like an oversimplification, but those two questions are the driving force that will keep you hustling for the next one to three years as you labor over your next feature film. A good movie comes from within, it’s personal to the filmmaker. It means something to you. And, in my opinion, the only thing that matters when you’re coming up with your next movie idea is that you have an emotional or personal connection to it. You need to have a pretty good reason for making it. Making a movie for the sake of making a movie is a waste of everyone’s time and money but making a movie that’s important to you is something that will never go out of style.
Take a look at these directors who took inspiration from their own lives and experiences to use in their movies. You might be surprised to see the director's personal life in Oscar-winning movies like Schlinders List and The Silver linings Playbook.
Those are the type of stories that linger on and make an impact on people. That connection, that “importance” is your mission statement – it is the reason for why you are choosing to make this particular film – and it will get you through countless production hardships. If you’re an immigrant, write a story about an immigrant (literally or in the form of an allegory); if you lost a family member or have gone through personal trauma, that’s the story you should be telling next. Your next character should ideally be struggling with something that you are emotional about. That, in my opinion, is the master key to a good idea.