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#scriptchat @Londonswf 50 Kisses Comp #1: Concept

So this is the first of my posts on the brilliant London Screenwriters Festival “50 Kisses” competition, a FREE opportunity which asks writers to come up with a 2 page script, including a kiss. From there, placing scripts will be made available to filmmakers to make, meaning writers’ screenplays *could* become the first CROWD-SOURCED feature film with distribution at the cinema from Valentine’s Day 2013. For full details and how to enter, CLICK HERE.

So, number one – CONCEPT.

From my time as a script reader (ten years + now) I would venture concept is one of the most UNDER-VALUED elements of the entire screenwriting process. It seems hard to believe, yet I’ve seen writers come up with an idea and then simply start writing it, over and over and over again. Of course, sometimes this is a good thing, since it’s a GREAT idea – but more often than not, this is simply accident rather than design. And 9/10, actually YOUR GREAT IDEA? It’s really not that great. And I can tell you why:

Readers have seen it before. A LOT.

But hey, don’t take my word for it… Check out the last contest The LSF Team ran, Four Nights In August. There, we saw many similar and samey stories again and again – making it hard for even well-written scripts to stand out. Even a warning from Script Goddess Linda Aronson failed to stop the deluge. And in the very first short filmmaking challenge we ran in 2010? Again the same thing happened, with EXAM by Stuart Hazeldine a huuuuge influence.

So be warned – your FIRST idea is probably not your BEST idea.

The beauty of the “50 kisses” brief is that it can be interpreted any number of ways… All LSF wants is a KISS. All the filmmakers want is something that is LOW or NO Budget.

So, in terms of finding the *best* concept… Where do you start?

Here’s my recommendations:

1) Quantity over quality. Forcing yourself to come up with a certain number of ideas (ie. a minimum of ten) is a GREAT place to start as it really stretches your creative mind. You don’t need to do it quickly. Take a few days or even weeks to consider if you need to. You’ll be surprised what you can come up with if you JUST DON’T PANIC. You have plenty of time – the deadline is July 29th 2012!

2) Word association. The keyword for this contest is obviously KISS. Why not employ a friend or family member to come up with as many word associations with “kiss” as possible with you, writing them all down. Consider all those random words and see where it takes you story-wise.

3) Image is all. Filmmakers could be making your script, so why not have a think about what *might* appeal to them in terms of what THEY’LL want to create as well – film is a collaborative art, after all. Check out filmmakers’ websites, their showreels, talk to some… Factor that into your thought processes when it comes to the word “kiss”.

4) Story springboard. This contest involves kissing and LSF wants to release this crowd-sourced film on Valentine’s Day. Why not watch as many romance-themed films and even adverts as possible? Why not make a collage of romantic images you find in magazines? How’s that for your inspiration? Or maybe you want to do something OPPOSITE and turn it all upside down: ie. the KISS OF DEATH via poisonous snakes and spiders, vampires and werewolves or other hideous creatures?

5) Story is King… or QUEEN, etc. Approach your story “left of the middle”: as a reader, I would bet real money the majority of scripts will feature a) a male protagonist b) adults c) white people d) heterosexual people e) 100% live action. It’s the way 99% of script calls go. What if yours wasn’t like this?

Do you have any more approaches? Share them in the comments!

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