Let's Talk About Concept Again...Please?

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  • Let's Talk About Concept Again...Please?

    I got the premise part down, but the concept just stops me. Can someone relate to my problem and maybe help me? Concept is also a theme? Concept if an abstract idea...?

    Or send me to another old thread. I looked, BTW.

    Thanks.

    A
    Writers write to be read, right?

  • #2
    Concept

    Okay, I may just be confusing you - because this jargon stuff always confuses me. Different people use different terms.

    So, I just look at theme (which people often call premise) and concept (which other people often call premise).

    Theme: the point of your story, or the issue or element of the human condition your story is exploring. "What's your story really about?"

    Concept: the basic story idea. What your story is about on the surface.

    Theme: There's no place like home.

    Concept: A tornado whisks a farm girl to an alien world run by witches.

    See how the two are connected - the concept creates a situation that explores the theme. If the tornado drops Dorothy back in Kansas, she won't be missing home and realize that home and family are really much better than having dreams (what kind of crappy theme is that?). Once she gets to Oz, the whole danged story is about finding her way back home. The longer she's in Oz, the more she wishes she were home. And Oz is not a bit like Kansas. If the tornado had dropped her in Nebraska or Oklahoma, would she really be missing home? I mean, those places aren't that much different.

    And that also illustrates why you want a pretty wild concept that takes it to the limit. Dorothy in Nebraska isn't just dull, it kills the theme and makes the story less emotional and lowers the stakes to almost nothing. Hey, Dorothy wants to go back home to Kansas... buy a freakin' bus ticket! In Oz, we really have no idea how she'll get back, and worry that she may never get back home. But Nebraska? This is why you want a wild and imaganitive concept instead of Nebraska.

    Hope that helps.

    - Bill
    Free Script Tips:
    http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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    • #3
      Re: Let's Talk About Concept Again...Please?

      I'd say premise and concept are honestly the same thing. Premise might be more specific while concept is just a general term to describe the idea about your story that hoepfully hooks a reader in some way.

      They are really almost interchangable terms though.

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      • #4
        Re: Let's Talk About Concept Again...Please?

        Originally posted by JayKid View Post
        I'd say premise and concept are honestly the same thing. Premise might be more specific while concept is just a general term to describe the idea about your story that hoepfully hooks a reader in some way.

        They are really almost interchangable terms though.
        No.

        Just consult any dictionary. A premise is something which already exists. You probably didn't think of it: pre=before misse=send

        So, during Prohibition, rival mobs engaged in warfare to control the bootleg liquor industry. A premise for a lot of stories.

        Then somebody came up with the idea of having two musicians disguise themselves as women to avoid being murdered by a mob boss. A great concept.

        And your theme could be that the good guy wins out in the end... or maybe that love conquers all.

        After all, Jack Lemon and Joe E. Brown did live happily ever after.
        R.D. Wright
        Member
        Last edited by R.D. Wright; 09-29-2007, 12:34 AM.
        "THIMK." - Amomynous

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        • #5
          Re: Let's Talk About Concept Again...Please?

          Originally posted by andlary1 View Post
          I got the premise part down, but the concept just stops me. Can someone relate to my problem and maybe help me? Concept is also a theme? Concept if an abstract idea...?

          Or send me to another old thread. I looked, BTW.

          Thanks.

          A
          I realize this may sound stupid but to bring out your concept and enhance it, make it blossom, it might be a good idea to discuss your premise and logline. Maybe some other stuff also..

          Let us know your title, premise and other stuff mentioned and maybe people can offer some ideas to help you build your concept.

          One of the best ways to enhance a concept is find the base meaning through your title/story and construct subtext from the ground up. You can only do this is you have a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. What you're doing is finding common themes, texts, images, iconography, language, sounds, frames of reference, color and action which relate to your overall idea which in turn creates layers with the view those various layers of subtext create a deeper meaning to your overall text (message/story) and produces an overall deeper experience in the reader/viewer.

          Therefore, everything you conceive to add in your script should link in multi-layers behind, below, above and in front of your story narrative which in turn will produce a complex multi-layered text which all relate to the target intended meaning of the screenplay concept. And if you can relate this to the title also then you have a perfect High Concept idea.

          LIAR LIAR is a perfect High Concept idea, it stems from the title, it affects the main character and those around him, his work, his daily life, his quest through the story, his inner goals and his outer goals. LIAR LIAR is structured in a way containing multi-layered texts which all relate to the title and reflect the title. The fact the title is repeated twice says it all for me.

          Give us some details about your screenplay to see if members here can offer some suggestions to help beef your script idea into a High Concept peice.. Would be a good exersise, I'm just doing that very thing with one of my own projects..

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          • #6
            Re: Let's Talk About Concept Again...Please?

            Adding to what Kevan said, if you can state your logline, then you know your concept.

            In my opinion, the concept is the meat of the logline.

            R

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            • #7
              Re: Let's Talk About Concept Again...Please?

              Kevan's suggestion is a good one, Andlary. I agree with Mister Martell very much so; great examples as well. Think of the term "high concept" and it becomes even clearer: If "concept" is the big idea of your script, then "high" concept is the big idea that is simple to articulate and highly entertaining.

              You know, so DANCING AT LUGHNASA (okay probably like ten people saw this gem) is a movie in which the concept is a family of five sisters living in rural Ireland whose lives are upended when their brother comes home to stay with them. Really a cute movie - not high concept though, right? You can see what the concept or "big idea" is, but it's a layered story and the description intimates that. No ONE big thing happens here.

              Versus JAWS - a huge, man-eating shark terrorizes a summer resort. Bada boom, bada bing. There's the concept and it's "high concept" for sure. Sure there are layers and complexity in this movie - which is what makes it a classic, but the big idea is perfectly clear.

              I am being reptitive because others answered your question perfectly, but at the end of the day, "concept" is simply - what is your story, very basically about? No details, just the quick few words to ballpark the experience? What are we gonna watch for 2 hours?

              Julie Gray



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