As creatives we are encouraged to embrace the new norm of digital interaction. More reason, in my view, to grasp the very real opportunity on offer with The Impact premiere event. Not only will it be a great night of red carpet glamour and a one off cinema experience, but writers will also be blasted with craft and connections.
The rule of “less is more” runs true for all screenwriting and is most evident in short film. The Impact will showcase the very best from 2800 (ish) 2 page scripts vetted by experienced readers. Moreover, only the best of the films produced made The Impact. Each one a unique example of how to nail character and engage an audience in just a few beats. Any writer who sees The Impact must be inspired when they return to their own scripts.
I was a newbie writer when I entered 50 kisses – the first Create50 feature project. My script didn’t get picked (I wasn’t ready) but I watched the bold and diverse film it produced and read all 50 winning scripts to learn the craft of a super short. I believe this prepared me for tackling the Impact challenge. My script “Rock. Paper. Scissors” made the fifty and I wrote a second produced film “School’s Out”. Since then, I have written a number of super shorts and, with the same Impact team (Director James Skinner and DOP Robert Campbell), we won the Depict 90 second film competition at Encounters in 2020 with our film “Fabulous”. There is no formula for super short story telling but I do see patterns with those which do well. Techniques which work not only for shorts but also enhance my approach to writing scenes or sequences in features. The Impact will exhibit many of these tools which include:
Internal conflict – The Impact premise pre-determined the external stakes for most stories. A meteor is about to hit and you have two hours left – deal with it. Making that situation personal by adding internal conflict drives many of the chosen films. Creating an intriguing character and giving them a compelling choice is key.
Subvert expectation – Another way a concept can stand out is to turn the expected on its head. Many of the Impact scripts focused on parents protecting their children from the news. In Rock. Paper. Scissors I focused on two girls managing the news for their drunk abusive father.
Keep it visual – Some of the films have no dialogue at all. A powerful and purely cinematic experience. Where dialogue is needed, keep it tight.
Interesting but familiar settings – A setting must not be humdrum but, in my view, for a super short a familiar setting which does not require exposition works well. There is too little time to build a world and introduce new rules. In School’s Out I love the scene of students learning of the news during an exam. It’s a unique setting but is instantly recognised and so instantly stirs the senses.
Start late and finish early – True for any scene, but even with a stand alone short try starting with (or just after) the inciting incident and finish as (or just before) the resolution unravels. This way three acts can be told in very little time.
At the premiere, writers will get a chance to meet/connect with other filmmakers and producers. OK, perhaps not A-listers but the kind who want to work and collaborate with writers. That’s why they got involved with The Impact in the first place. Many emerging writers look for a break from people so far up the ladder, that it never happens. In the process they can miss the opportunity right next to them. We need to create a break many years ahead with a trusted partner. Not a lucky break today that will fall apart at the first heavy knock. Having made two films with James Skinner for the Impact we have made several shorts since. This was all after initially meeting at a screening and sharing a beer afterwards.
Cinema is back and I’d urge all writers and filmmakers who can attend the premiere to do so. To be entertained, enlightened and to encounter like-minded people.
Ben Marshall // Screenwriter
Where: The Genesis Cinema, 93-95 Mile End Road, London E1
When: Tuesday May 31st
How Much: £19.95 (includes a The Impact cinema poster for your office!)
Dress Code: Posh frocks and dickie bows, we will have a red carpet.