Inspiration for your story

Posted on June 15, 2012

Inspiration plays an important role in the making of a film. Without inspiration, it’s hard to come up with new ideas for a screenplay. Christopher Booker is an English journalist and author and in his book “The Seven Basic Plots – Why We Tell Stories” he has a theory that all stories, whether it’s Cinderella or Lord of the Rings can essentially be boiled down to seven basic elements:

1. Overcoming the monster
2. Rags to Riches
3. The Quest
4. Voyage and Return
5. Comedy
6. Tragedy
7. Rebirth

Plots can overlap, says Booker, and Lord of the Rings, for example, probably includes all seven. A lot of films, especially in Norway are based on books, and that’s most likely one of the easiest ways to get a plot for a film. To come up with a new and original screenplay, you really have to be imaginative, but often people tend to see a parallel between new ideas and other films and then call it a rip off. But what distinguishes “stealing” from “getting inspiration”? That’s a hard question, and it’s discussed every day regarding everything from the Ipad, to music and designs on milk cartons. Some say stealing is copying 50% of a work and claiming it’s your original idea and others say it’s stealing when people just see a parallel to another idea. As a film director, I still have problems knowing the difference, but my guess is that you just have to feel whether your work is a copy, a totally new idea or maybe an idea combined by different ideas.

Films childhood1. “Land before time” 2. “Jurassic park” 3. “The never ending story”

It’s fascinating the fact that we are probably not always aware of what really inspires us. Throughout life, we experience a lot of good things and bad things. Some of the really emotional experiences we tend to remember our whole life, while we forget other experiences. As a child, I had a lot of imagination, and my surroundings influenced me a lot. I had some of my best movie experiences during this time, and I will never forget when Littlefoot thinks he finally meets his lost mother, but then realize it’s just his shadow that confuses him in “Land before time”. This film has, together with “Jurassic Park”, “Back to the future” and “The never ending story” been my biggest inspirations from childhood. Now I’m 24 years old, I’m working on a new feature film, and I think I have found my personal style of making films by combining those works I really like, and those that evoke my feelings. Stevens Spielberg’s style of creating amazing stories and adventures, Michael Bay’s way to handle the camera, and M. Nigh. Shyamalan’s way of giving that atmospheric and mystical feeling is a combination I think relates a lot to my imagination and feelings. But I’m still relatively young, and maybe there are even bigger inspirations out there? I have started to notice how much people around me, and the music I listen to, affects my stories, and that’s probably just a fraction of what influences me. I think there is unlimited inspiration out there, and that is great news for us filmmakers. It’s just like the film “The never ending story”.

This song gave me a lot of inspiration a couple of days ago. I just felt it! What inspires you the most? Comment below :)


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7 Comments so far
  1. Fuwad Abrar June 15, 2012 3:28 pm

    I have always been a lover of films ever since I was four years old. I remember watching films such as Back To The Future, Independence Day, Terminator 2 and much more when I was growing up. But the film that got me inspired and made me go into depth of film was The Dark Knight. I was heavily inspired by the writing and directing by Christopher Nolan who is now my favourite director and also my idol. This man has inspired me the most into my filmmaking career. Also, amazing talented directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. All of these directors have inspired me a lot but Christopher Nolan has inspired me the most.

  2. Hartmut Gau June 15, 2012 4:16 pm

    Hi Anders,
    certain films and music are important inspirations for me as well.
    When I’m en route, thinking of the plot for my next movie, then I listen to film music (Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard,…) that would support the atmosphere of the upcoming movie, even though I may not use that music in the final film. It’s just for inspiration.
    As I am more than 20 years older than you, my film experiences startet with Hitchcock, Western of the sixties and the early Spielberg films (Close Encounters, ET), not to forget Starwars, Alien und Indiana Jones.
    I think some films inspire us by the way they are made while others touch our private aspirations in a way that the way they were created is secondary (for me: “Dances with wolves”.)
    Is you upcoming feature film a long play?

  3. Anders Øvergaard June 18, 2012 11:02 am

    Thank you for your comments! :) It’s no doubt that inspiration is important.

    Hartmut: Yes, it’s a long play movie. It will probably be the first Nowegian Sci-fi feature :)

  4. Anders Jacobsen June 20, 2012 7:57 pm

    First of all!
    Congratulations on the Amanda Nomination for Coming Home!

    Now topic:)
    I find inspiration on all levels, sometimes great directors of all times…
    I am discovering something new every now and then, and i also see how other people use inspiration. For example your movie: A Silhouette Story, I might think you’ve got inspired by Lotte Reiniger on the expression if the film.
    It’s all about drawing the lines and learn from the great ones, and in my case got the motivation to become a inspiration for the next generation…
    For me you are a great inspiration aswell, what you have achieved is very inspiring considering your age…

    I’m not sure if you remember, but we met one time at the bus to Drøbak. It was cool, I’m a big fan of you, Anders…


  5. Mike July 4, 2012 2:49 pm

    Just a quick note that I was extremely pleased to see someone appreciating this particular Blade Runner OST song. I absolutely LOVE it!!
    A nice read as always! :)

  6. Edward August 11, 2012 3:50 pm

    Vil bare informere deg om at “Til siste hinder” er blant topp 5 i folkets Amanda

  7. Anders Øvergaard August 13, 2012 5:14 pm

    Hei Edward! Yess, jeg vet. Utrolig morsomt! :) Blir spennende 17. august! Følg med på tv2.