what is high concept



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  • #31
    Re: what is high concept

    Originally posted by English Dave
    Only if that scene involved an aged nun being reamed by three sailors. [as defined above]

    The title would be 'Old habits die hard'


    • #32
      Re: what is high concept

      Keep in mind that the concept of high concept was invented by and used by studio execs. It's what they all want. Nearly every movie released by a major studio is high concept in their world. Once it hits the theatres it becomes our world. Yeah, we get the concept but the movie still stinks. Doesn't matter. In those hallowed halls of exec offices it is still a high concept. You can chase "high concepts" until the cows come home but unless it works for them it don't matter. That is obviously stating the obvious but strong characters, engaging story, smart dialogue will go a long way. Write a great script and let the "concept" speak for itself. Of course if you want to play with the big guns, you'll have to play by their rules...


      • #33
        Re: what is high concept

        There are varying degrees of high concept, ranging from "kinda good" to "great."

        There can be no such thing as a bad high concept. That's like saying "an ugly beautiful girl."

        If you have a concise logline describing your movie's concept, and everyone instantly understands it but no one likes it, the industry would not call that "high concept." There's no point to having a short-and-easily-understood logline if it's not also appealing. The practical result of that would be, people read your logline, they instantly understand it, and then you win the world speed record for having them say, "Nah, not interested. Next... "

        The point is to write a movie that sounds appealing when you pitch it, because that's a movie industry people will want to read, and it's also a movie that someone is more likely to want to buy.

        They know there are people standing in line at the multiplex figuring out which movie they want to see, and those people will pick the movie that offers the best answer to the question, "What's it about?"

        > Can't a concept develop into a high concept as you are writing the script?

        Not really. Your logline is shorthand for the concept of your movie -- who the protagonist is, what he struggles to do, why. When you start writing your script, those decisions have already been made. If you don't start out with a protagonist struggling to do something that instantly sounds interesting, that's not going to change as you write.

        A girl struggles to get her cat out of a tree before it gets hungry.

        That's a logline, it's concise, and it's a concept for a movie. But everyone can tell already that movie would suck. It's boring. The stakes are low. There's nothing clever. No one in their right mind would call it high concept.

        While struggling to get laid, a 40 year old man falls in love... but she doesn't know he's a virgin. Title: 40 Year Old Virgin

        When her boyfriend dumps her, a bubble-headed sorority girl gets into Harvard Law for the sole purpose of winning him back. Title: Legally Blonde.

        See? The appeal is in the design of the story. Somebody thought up a high concept before they started writing, knowing that people would read their logline and a high percentage of them would say, "I want to see that."

        That's what you have to do to write high concept. You make sure you have a high concept idea before you start writing. You reject ideas that don't pitch well. You wait till you have a killer idea. It has to have drama or comedy and a sustainable story, but besides that, it has to pitch well.

        A lot of concepts are in-between. You think you have come up with a great high concept, and a decent number of people would agree with you. Some will like it, some won't. So one out of 10 requests your script. The ones who like it think it's high concept.

        Maybe your idea is a twist on an older movie, and some will think it's too much like it, others will think it's just different enough to be cool. The ones who think your idea is great will call it high concept.

        >I kinda thought that the high concept pitch was supposed to facilitate the "quick-decision- process: The story either appeals to me or it doesn't. Next.

        True, but you want the verdict on your logline to be Yes! I love that! So you have to make sure you're writing something that will get you that response. So you write about a 40 year old virgin (if someone didn't beat you to it) instead of writing about lazy days at your grandma's farm.

        If you don't make sure before you start writing that your protagonist is spending his Act II doing something fresh and appealing, you miss your chance to have a movie anybody would ever call high concept. You may have interesting scenes. You may have character depth. Great. But nobody will know about those from your logline. All they'll know is you wrote about a cat in a tree. And that doesn't sound like a movie anyone would pay to see, so no one wants to read it.
        Last edited by Joaneasley; 06-21-2006, 09:46 PM.


        • #34
          Re: what is high concept

          Is it just me or is anyone else suffering subject fatigue after three very recent and very lengthy threads on the same subject?

          Joan's post is excellent.

          To sum up, it's called high CONCEPT not high execution.

          CONCEPT is what you pitch not execution.

          CONCEPT is what entices people to read the script not the execution.

          CONCEPT is what attracts audiences not the execution.

          The importance of beginning with a solid, unique, compelling and simple cinematic concept can not be understated. Especially for a writer trying to crack the concept driven spec market.

          EDIT, make that: The importance of beginning with a solid, unique, compelling and simple cinematic concept can not be OVERstated. Especially for a writer trying to crack the concept driven spec market.

          Don't confuse what I said with anything except what I actually said.

          I am not saying execution is not important, only that it is secondary to your concept and completely irrelevant as far as defining high concept.

          Last edited by Deus Ex Machine; 06-22-2006, 08:30 AM.
          Fortune favors the bold - Virgil


          • #35
            Re: what is high concept

            Originally posted by Deus Ex Machine
            The importance of beginning with a solid, unique, compelling and simple cinematic concept can not be understated. Especially for a writer trying to crack the concept driven spec market.
            I can't see how there could be any more to say on this particular subject.


            • #36
              Re: what is high concept

              i'm surprised it lasted this long. good opinions/facts though.
              One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

              The Fiction Story Room


              • #37
                On the flip side

                As some of you know, I have a small business writing loglines and queries for people. A lot of the scripts people want me to write queries for are not high concept. By figuring out what to emphasize and what wording to use, I do my best to help a script get requested. I won't take a job unless I think I can do something for it that will help its chances in the marketplace.

                Part of logline-writing and query letter-writing is execution. It's wordsmithing. It's knowing what a producer expects to see in a query and making sure it's in there. It's knowing what will turn them off and leaving it out. It's taking a long, complicated story and finding the quickest way to get to the general idea, and making the general idea sound good. It's taking the story you've got and using lights and filters to create the most flattering image possible of a compelling protagonist struggling toward an interesting goal.

                The point I'm making now is, if you have a good story but it's not high concept, you're not necessarily dead. Your query letter will make it sound like a good story. It will probably require a well-written synopsis in addition to the logline.

                If you go to someone like me, we'll do the best we can to show off your story to best advantage. But our raw material will always be who your protagonist is, what he's struggling to do, why, and who's doing what to stop him. We can improve your chances for a script request to a certain extent, but the bottom line is still the protagonist and goal you chose to write about.