Now that our Screenwriting a Film Making Competitions are live, I thought I would write about why these competitions are going to be so fascinating, and why you should enter, be you a filmmaker or a screenwriter.
So what are the competions?
1. A one page screenwriting competition, free and open to anyone, that closes on September 30th midnight The winner becomes the basis for the second competition.
2. A fourteen day filmmaking challenge that opens on October 7th – take the winning script and make YOUR version of it.
First off, both competitions are free to enter. And the prizes are judges are great too.
The project is centered around the UK riots that swept the country over the summer, which we all feel is very fertile ground for story tellers.
The challenge is to tell an amazing, powerful and engaging story on one page. Can you do that? It’s harder than you think.
The essence of screenwriting is ‘say the most with the least…’ and this screenwriting challenge will push your talent to the very limit. If you want a great example of minimalist story telling, I wrote about Alexander Mackendriks view, taken the from the amazing ‘On Filmmaking’ book. You can read that here on my blog…
So what story should you tell?
The temptation is to focus on hooded youths and burning cars, but there are also stories that must have played out sat in front of televisions, of worried parents, of barricaded tenants… And who were those people in those iconic images that we all saw? What drove them to those actions? What happened to them afterward? There are infinite and compelling stories to be told around these extraordinary events.
If you plan to enter the Screenwriting half of the competition, you can read the rules and enter here…
The second half of the challenge for me is very exciting. It’s a fourteen day film making challenge like no other. Unlike most challenges, you will be working with an award winning screenplay, the winner of the Script challenge. But all other entrants will also be working from the same script too, so you can’t blame the screenplay!
This challenge will be about film making skill, about casting, attention to detail, stunning cinematography (or shaky hand held if that suits your interpretation), great sound and music, editing… It’s about making the very best movie!
Not all our judges are announced yet but we already have X-Men editor Eddie Hamilton and DSLR guru Philip Bloom. And some more big names will follow very soon.
This process will also provide a unique opportunity to see what other film makers will do with the same material. That will be fascinating.
If you plan to enter the Film Making half of the competition, you can read the rules and enter here…
OK so some tips to help you make the most of your chances.
1. Think about production issues. If you have a mob and burning cars, that will make it hard for the film makers.
2. While not a rule, I feel you will get more out of one page with less dialogue. It’s a challenge, but see if you can do it without words.
3. Research people who were impacted in strange, interesting or dramatic ways. Look for stories that resonate a ‘truth’ and hit home hard.
4. Personally, I would avoid political statements. The film should make us think about what happened as much as it may offer an answer.
5. Rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.
Tips for shooting
1. This is a one page script so you should be able to shoot it in one day. Spend time and get it right.
2. Work hard on casting, location, costumes, design. Get what’s in front of the camera right.
3. Work hard with your actors. If one thing will win above all others, it’s a killer performance. In my view, this will trump everything else.
4. Shoot on the appropriate format for your interpretation of the story. That might be 5D but it also might be an iPhone.
5. Record the sound properly. Spend time getting it right and spend time in post production polishing your audio.
6. Keep your credits short and put them at the end of the film, not at the beginning.
7. Your film should have a life beyond this competition.
8. Don’t leave uploading to the last minute. Plan to complete your film WAY ahead of time so you can go back and polish it before the deadline.
Right. Good luck and I can’t wait to see the entrants!
Onwards and upwards
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author