Hi, my name is Colin Grayson. I am new to stop motion making and I am just starting out. I want to create a movie that can play at a local film festival. I am struggling for ideas. I loved King Kong when I was a kid and I wanted to do a monkey but I also thought it would be too derriative and I should possibly do something more original like a bear. I am asking you which one should I do and how can I make it a reality?

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Try working on a story as the first thing, as you can always change the characters around.

There's a great book called 'Ideas for the animated short' that takes you through the process of developing something that becomes workable.

Are you thinking of an all-puppet film, like Wallace and Gromit, or a film with live action and a stop motion character like Kong or any of the Harryhausen films?

There are a lot of approaches to coming up with stories, which is why there are books about it. That looks like a good one that Simon recommends.  I find I read a book like that, it makes sense, but then I then forget it and don't actually use it when trying to come up with a film.

What helps me is when I get a key word from someone else.  I might be in a rut, going over the same ideas I always do, then an animation or short film group sets a topic with a particular word, and that makes me think of something outside my usual box.  I just did a short for the One Minute Film Club (a facebook group) where each month's winner sets the topic for the next one.  (Took me 3 months, which was way past the deadline, but the word - Animal -  still sparked off an idea so it worked for me to get the creative juices flowing.) We used to do the same thing at a site called StopmoShorts, come up with a few key words for animators to bounce off, and see what they came up with.  Any way of randomly generating words could do this just as well.   Putting 2 words together, which may not usually be associated, often gave me a fresh angle.  

The same word can generate very different approaches from different animators.  And just because you make and animate a gorilla, that doesn't mean it needs to follow the King Kong story.  It can be a very different story.  Just as, making it a different creature, like a rhedosaurus or Ymir or Godzilla doesn't  stop it being a very similar monster-trashes-city story.  

One way of coming up with a story is, start with a character.  Add a situation, something unusual happens.  What would that character do?   Suppose one word was Gorilla, and the second word was Pizza.  How could you bring those two together?  Ok, gorilla in zoo, watches as visitors much on pizza slices.  Licks lips, that looks good.  This sets up motivation.  Then an incident to change things - keeper accidentally leaves cage door open.  Gorilla escapes, goes down road towards pizza place.  Plenty to work with, how do people on street react, does the shop serve him even though he has no money?  Maybe the zookeeper happens to be there, and pays, hoping it will calm him and he can be taken back to the zoo.  Maybe nobody refuses a gorilla, money or not.  (Of course, if it is a giant gorilla, they may need to make a giant pizza.)  I had no ideas when I started typing, but now they are coming, one thing suggests another.  Silly ideas, maybe not the direction you would go, but still, ideas.  Needs an ending though.   Haven't thought of one yet, just making this up as I go along, but I like something with a bit of a twist, yet perfectly logical once you see it, following what has gone before.

Anyway, that's my approach, what works for you may be different.

  

Maybe the gorilla goes back and complains that he is a vegetarian and got a pepperoni pizza?!

Or demands a mountain of extra celery. And has no money....

Or finds the whole pizza thing not at all to his liking, so goes back to his cage.

I recall a lovely short film in which a couple of baddies break out of prison, get chased but shake off their pursuers, reach a pub and have a drink, then get chased again, shake off again and get back into prison. The warden, all out of breath, unlocks the cell door to find them innocently lounging about. Could easily be adapted to a gorilla/zoo/pizza story...

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