Where Do Movie Directors Look for Inspiration?

Some Unknown Secrets

Making movies is a multi-billion-dollar business with hundreds of movies released for public consumption each year. With so many repetitive sequels on offer, you might be forgiven for thinking that inspiration is in short supply. After all, there are only so many Marvel Comics in existence, so sooner or later, moviemakers are going to have to come up with a few new ideas!

Cameramen are important elements in any filming set.
Cameraman filming

So, where do moviemakers find inspiration when they are ready to make a new film? The answer is there are many sources of inspiration, which is great news for the continuing evolution of modern moviemaking.


History is a rich seam of inspiration for moviemaking. As anyone who has studied on an online MAH program at Norwich University knows, history is full of important events, many of which have provided the inspiration for great movies. For example, a recent movie, Dunkirk, was based on the real-life events of World War II, when the Allied troops fought against the Germans on the beaches of Dunkirk in France. Other movies rooted in historical events include Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, and Schindler’s List.

"Saving Private Ryan was one of the best movies starred by Tom Hanks.
“Saving Private Ryan” screenshot

Not all movies stick to the facts, as any online masters in history student will know, but most use history as a starting point to create a story that audiences will engage with and be inspired by.

Popular Culture

Books, comics, plays, and even poems have inspired many movies over the years. From Romeo and Juliet to Lord of the Rings, popular culture and literature have provided a wonderful source of inspirational material for filmmakers all over the world. There is also an increasing prevalence of movies based on popular TV series, such as the A-Team and the Men from UNCLE. Great novels are usually turned into successful movies within a short time, as the Harry Potter series illustrates very well. Of course, not all great books make the transition smoothly and some end up being flops.

Real Life

Real life is often way stranger than fiction. Real life crime stories and strange events have inspired many awesome movies. Movies based on the diabolical escapades of serial killers and career criminals always prove popular. We find people like Charles Manson deeply disturbing, but it does not stop audiences queuing up to see movies based on his crimes.

Real life events are often portrayed by drama movies.
“Heavy Orange” screenshot

Personal Experience

Many movie directors produce wonderful films based on their own personal experiences. Art often imitates life and vice versa, so if you have had a traumatic childhood or endured all kinds of terrible things, it is therapeutic to bring your experiences to the screen.

The Imagination

Humans have a powerful imagination. Our fantasy world has inspired all manner of crazy works of futuristic fiction and movies. Some moviemakers look to science fiction for inspiration, but others create a new world from their own imaginations. Seminal movies such as Blade Runner and the Matrix were all spawned from someone’s imagination. Both have been amazingly successful and an important part of the Sci-Fi genre.

Next time you visit the movie theater, have a think about where the director found inspiration. It may not be as obvious as you think!

By: Carol Trehearn – Content Manager

SOURCECarol Trehearn
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