This is my personal favorite approach to coming up with movie plot ideas. You take any circumstance, either real or fictional, and add a “What if…” to it. For example, what if Winston Churchill had an affair with his assistant? What if Gandalf had a wife and kids? What if human beings invaded earth as an alien species?
What if a man and a woman who hate each other are forced to spend three days handcuffed to each other after a hostage situation leaves them stranded? What if the nerdiest man in the world was trying to get together with a supermodel? What if the coolest guy in school fell in love with a friendless loser? What if the best country singer in the south was a Pakistani immigrant with a beautiful singing voice and a love for American country music? What if a man was living inside your apartment walls? What if your neighbor was a sought-after serial killer, but he had a wife and kids and lived a normal life? What if a conservative man/woman learns that their husband/wife was born of the opposite sex? What if you woke up in the New York City Subway every night at 2:00 a.m., regardless of where you fell asleep the night before?
The “What if ” game works! Write down five to ten “What if ” scenarios and see what kinds of ideas you come up with.
Check out these movies where the directors really think outside the box.