Thread: Scriptfest III

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    #21
    Senior Member John LaBonney's Avatar
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    Whether we call it a theme or motif or whatever, I just think that we should leave it as open as possible, as long as it can be tied to a central concept. I think that the last two scriptfests have been good, the first one being a little less narrow than the second.

    This topic has been explored in-depth whenever there's been a discussion about "what's the NextFest going to be?" in the film festivals, and there are a plethora of ideas in those threads.

    I like:

    War
    Money
    Betrayal
    Politics
    Business
    Piracy


    There are a million others.
    John LaBonney
    Director, Dam Short Film Festival
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    #22
    Mod v2.0 Noel Evans's Avatar
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    The only thing I ask is that the theme be useful. One where after you finish your story theres a possibility to shoot it without needing a few hundred grand for a 6 minute piece. Also I dont think its worth forcing genres on us, such as comedy, horror or drama, usually people can craft that in if they like no matter the theme.
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    Theme vs Premise
    #23
    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    In film, theme is a broad idea that acts as the foundation, and can be expressed visually.

    Love
    Time
    Money
    Greed
    Control
    Faith
    Liberty
    Trust

    Once a theme is decided upon, a PREMISE is established. It is here each filmmaker goes their own direction.

    Theme: Time
    Premise: Time heals all wounds - or - There is never enough

    Theme: Money
    Premise: Money can/can't buy happiness - or - Money makes the world go round

    Theme: Faith
    Premise: Finding strength in what you can't see - or - Faith and reality rarely mix

    Theme: Greed
    Premise: Greed destroys all men/women - or - Greed drives the economy.

    You need both a broad idea, and the direction you want that idea to take.

    From here you develop a plot/story.

    Theme: Time
    Premise: Never enough
    Plot: A man/woman moves to a larger planet so he/she has more hours in a day, only to discover the Darwinian theory applies to time as well.

    Water would be an element used to develop a plot/story.

    Theme: Survival
    Premise: The survival instinct can turn friends into enemies.
    Plot: In a post-apocalyptic world, the scarcity of water re-establishes national boundaries.

    All of this would be developed within the framework of a genre: Drama, scifi, western, horror, comedy, etc ...

    aw
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 09-05-2008 at 06:20 PM.


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    #24
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    If we're going for genre - I vote for a western. If we're going for theme - then isolation. (Did I get them right?)


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    #25
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    I threw out some themes on the first page. In case you guys missed them:

    Quote Originally Posted by ConspiracyPenguin View Post
    Compassion

    Fear

    Hate

    Hope

    Irony
    Quote Originally Posted by John LaBonney View Post
    Politics.
    I would LOVE that, but it will never happen with the rule here. For the record, I am fine with the rule, it keeps things civil.


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    #26
    Senior Member John LaBonney's Avatar
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    Ah, I didn't think of that. Good point Nick.
    John LaBonney
    Director, Dam Short Film Festival
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    #27
    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget D. View Post
    If we're going for genre - I vote for a western. If we're going for theme - then isolation. (Did I get them right?)

    Perfect.


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    #28
    Senior Member Mike Manning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    In film, theme is a broad idea that acts as the foundation of the film, and can be expressed visually.

    Love
    Time
    Money
    Greed
    Control
    Faith
    Liberty
    Trust

    Once a theme is decided upon, a PREMISE is established. It is here each filmmaker goes their own direction.

    Theme: Time
    Premise: Time heals all wounds - or - There is never enough

    Theme: Money
    Premise: Money can/can't buy happiness - or - Money makes the world go round

    Theme: Faith
    Premise: Finding strength in what you can't see - or - Faith and reality rarely mix

    Theme: Greed
    Premise: Greed destroys all men/women - or - Greed drives the economy.

    You need both a broad idea, and the direction you want that idea to take.

    From here you develop a plot/story.

    Theme: Time
    Premise: Never enough
    Plot: A man/woman moves to a larger planet so he/she has more hours in a day, only to discover the Darwinian theory applies to time as well.

    Water would be an element used to develop a plot/story.

    Theme: Survival
    Premise: The survival instinct can turn friends into enemies.
    Plot: In a post-apocalyptic world, the scarcity of water re-establishes national boundaries.

    All of this would work within a genre: Drama, scifi, western, horror.

    aw
    Your close. What you have listed as a "Premise" is actually a Theme. What you have listed as a "Theme" is actually a subject. I don't mean to be nit-picky, but these are things a screenwriter needs to be aware of. Please read up on it on Wikipedia as it defines it simply and concisely.

    PREMISE
    The premise of a film or screenplay is the fundamental concept that drives the plot.
    Most premises can be expressed very simply, and many films can be identified simply from a short sentence describing the premise. For example: A lonely boy is befriended by an alien; A small town is terrorized by a shark; A small boy sees dead people.
    THEME
    In the visual arts, a theme is a broad idea or a message conveyed by work done in a visual experience, such as a performance, a painting, or a motion picture. This message is usually about life, society or human nature. Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a work. Themes are usually implied rather than explicitly stated. Deep thematic content is not required in a visual work; however, some observers would say that all visual work inherently projects some kind of outlook on life that can be taken as a theme, regardless of whether or not this is the intent of the author. Analysis of changes (or implied change) in dynamic characteristics of the work can provide insight into a particular theme.
    A theme is not the same as the subject of a work. For example, the subject of Star Wars is "the battle for control of the galaxy between Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance". The themes explored in the movies might be "moral ambiguity" or "the conflict between technology and nature".
    Themes differ from motifs in that themes are ideas conveyed by the visual experience as a whole, while motifs are repeated symbols found inside an over-arching theme. Simply having repeated symbolism related to chess, does not make the story's theme the similarity of life to chess. Themes arise from the interplay of the plot, the characters, and the attitude the author takes to them, and the same story can be given very different themes in the hands of different authors.
    Looking at these definitions, you can see how theme is something more than "Love."
    You have to look at theme as what your story is actually about. If you're story is about star-crossed lovers, your theme isn't "Love," it's "Love conquers against all odds." It's the subtext - what you are really saying with your film.

    Am I making any sense?


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    #29
    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    NOTE: Sorry, but Wikipedia is far from my source of reliable info.



    IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, theme and premise are...


    Theme: Love
    Premise: Love conquers all.

    Love conquers all is the direction the film goes, what drives it. With that type of premise you see films like Maid in Manhattan, Notting Hill, It Could Happen to You, The Sound of Music, etc ...


    Theme is one or two words that establish the broad idea. Premise sets the direction.

    A thematic statement on the other hand will explain further the 'underlying theme' of the film. ie; Thanksgiving = being thankful for the bounty provided, etc.

    Now, like anything else and including film, there are different schools of thought, and definitions are many. 'Theme and premise' is one topic not everybody agrees on one definition, just as they don't agree on character vs plot, the importance of the three act structure, etc. That's the beauty of it!! It's also why there are so many books and articles out there, each with an individual interpretation on it.

    Let's leave it at this and let the individual filmmaker decide for themselves. Either way, I think they got the gist of it.

    Gist?

    You need a theme, and you need a premise to fully develop a story. How you define theme and premise is your call.

    Onward ...

    Lets say DVXuser decides Bridget's theme of Isolation will be chosen for the next fest (love that theme by the way).

    Each writer first needs to decide a genre to deliver the story. Let's pick horror just for the sake of example, though drama and comedy would be equally great.

    Okay, so we have isolation, and horror. Now what? We need a direction for the story to follow. We need a premise.

    Genre: Horror
    Theme: Isolation
    Premise: When left alone in the dark, the mind is a dangerous place to be.

    Then onto story ...

    Plot/story: After being stuck in a dark elevator for three days, a woman begins to hallucinate, and can longer tell what is what is real, and what is not.

    You might develop this story where the color of the walls change, figures come and go, or even her own guilt for some past event manifests itself in nightmarish scenes.

    You get the idea. Build it like a pyramid. The big stone (theme) on the bottom, and refine as you go.
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 09-06-2008 at 06:31 AM.


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    #30
    Nosey Penguin
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    I don't think the point is to argue about what the hell a theme is, but what a good one would be for the next fest. It is a valid discussion, I just don't want it to overshadow the brainstorming session this is supposed to be.


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