Welcome to the sixteenth of our Creative Challenges. In our fourth week of Creative Challenges, we’re exploring the nature of profitability for screenplay writing: WriteMovies’ 100-Day Creative Challenge 16 is about the profit motive for producers.
If you’re looking to keep inspired, progressing, and connecting throughout the current lockdowns, we’ve got the answer: the WriteMovies 100-Day Creative Challenge launches on Monday!
Our Director recently provided his thoughts about how writers should respond to the lockdowns, and the 100-Day Creative Challenge is our answer to that question – as well as how we plan to provide you with the best possible help in these difficult times.
We’ll be providing you with a daily prompt for a half-hour of creative activity to start your day, which will generate creative material and ideas you can take further, AND teach you something important about yourself as a writer, and about the key craft of writing, EVERY DAY – in a clear sequence of steps that will bring your skills and knowledge to a clear conclusion.
And don’t forget that the first deadline for both our Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award 2020 and Summer 2020 Screenwriting Contest is fast approaching! You’ve got until Sunday May 3rd to enter at standard entry prices, so don’t miss out – click here to submit your script as soon as possible!
A claustrophobic survival story: a small but strong woman is the only chance for a man trapped miles underground. THE PINCH by James Raynor is a gripping script that took a very worthy 2nd place in our Fall 2019 Screenwriting Contest!
In a good year for horror here at WriteMovies, the 3rd Place Script is a classic haunted house story. With a gripping plot and a fantastic lead character, HAVENWOOD by Jai Brandon gave us all the spooks, thrills, and excitement we could have possibly hoped for!
An historical drama set in Roman Britain adapted from the novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, OUTCAST captured us from the first page to the last with its superb world-building and dramatic story. Congratulations to its writer, Sarah Bellwood, for placing 3rd in our Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest!
The fundamental thing that a script should do is tell a great story. Hopefully, that’s not a contentious point – we go to the movies or turn on the TV because we want to be entertained! Whether it’s an adventure, an emotional drama, or a horror, the story is what keeps people hooked. With that in mind, it’s easy to focus on the things that are always visible: plot points, characters, and dialogue.
But it’s important not to forget that the very best stories have layers. Underneath the surface, they have something more to say about life. If you ignore this second layer – if you ignore themes, and forget to include one (or more!) in your script, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. They might not be visible or obvious, but they’re extremely important.
At the end of the day, it’s the theme that will most touch an audience and make them remember your film long after they’ve seen it. Anyone can string gunfights, explosions, arguments, and witty dialogue together, but if you can say something unique and profound that no-one else can say, it’ll really make you stand out.
It’s important to note that the theme is not the same as the concept of your script. Your concept or premise is the idea that drives your story; your theme is the message that it is trying to convey through that idea.
So for example, in David Lean’s classic film THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, the concept is that a rule-obsessed British colonel helps his Japanese captors to build a railway bridge, while being unaware of an Allied plan to blow it up. The themes, however, revolve around the absurdity of the idea that there can be rules in warfare and that honor can exist in such a situation.
These themes are never explicitly stated, but they’re clear from very early on, as soon as Colonel Nicholson (Alex Guinness) takes out his copy of the Geneva Conventions and attempts to show it to the uncaring commandant Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) to protest that his officers can’t be put to work because it would be in breach of law. And later on, Nicholson even forbids his men from trying to escape the POW camp because, having been ordered to surrender, escaping would be in breach of their orders!
This theme – of the absurdity of the rules of war – is difficult to express in a single, memorable sentence. It’s always there, though, in every scene of THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. It leads us through the story from start to finish.
Knowing what your theme is before you start writing (or at the very least, during writing) is immensely helpful in this regard. If you don’t know what message you want to express, your story can end up wandering all over the place because it doesn’t have any guidance; a strong theme, on the other hand, can help to keep it on track.
So there are a lot of good reasons to make sure your screenplay’s themes are clear. It will help audiences to remember your work, making you stand out as a writer with something unique to say, and keep your story on track.
It will also help to keep us script analysts engaged. Make us use our brains rather than just dealing with things on a shallow level, and we’ll keep reading – and if you can get people to keep reading your script, page after page, then unsurprisingly you’ll achieve success in this industry!
PROMISE OF TOMORROW: After finding a website devoted to insulting him, a struggling, separated and obsessive Project Manager becomes determined to track down who created it.
A romantic-comedy with heaps of charm, PROMISE OF TOMORROW made us laugh more than any other script in this competition. In the tradition of great British rom-coms, it captured our attention with its quirky characters, heartwarming story, and fantastic audience appeal. This is a script that deserves to go far – a huge congratulations to its writer, the winner of our Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest, Andrew Pennington!
As the Grand Prize Winner of our Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest, Andrew has won $2500, guaranteed pitching to industry, and a year of free script development. If you want to follow in his footsteps, then enter our Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest (click here!)
Here’s a summary of PROMISE OF TOMORROW:
PROMISE OF TOMORROW is a comedy feature following Owen, a slightly OCD Project Manager, who has always taken the easy roads in life.
Owen is horrified as he finds a website devoted purely to mocking him. It sends his obsessive and paranoid tendencies into overdrive, as he struggles to work out who could possibly have set up such a cruel prank. When his wife decides to leave, she becomes the clear number one suspect.
Seemingly more upset about the website than his impending divorce, Owen is guided by his family and friends to deal with his separation. His boss suggests using his considerable professional skills to aid the situation. Project manage his break-up!
Owen struggles through an investigation of clues as to the website author, whilst keeping emotional distance from his personal life. He finds that his coping mechanism can only work for so long before he’s forced to confront his difficult journey.
If you’re a producer interested in this project, email firstname.lastname@example.org today!
And here’s a quick bio of the writer of PROMISE OF TOMORROW, Andrew Pennington:
Andrew Pennington is a screenwriter who grew up in the North West of England and is currently based in Merseyside, with his wife and two children. He initially studied social sciences at Lougborough University and developed a career in research within academia and then the National Health Service.
An affinity for visual story-telling, initially starting with comic books as a boy, led to a love of film and T.V. Andrew went on to gain an MA in Screenwriting from Liverpool John Moores University. He writes a variety of film and T.V. screenplays, primarily in comedy and science fiction.
See if you can coax him into more social media than just retweets here: @atpennington