Concept is King!

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Written and Directed by: James DeMonaco


Quickly cycling through Netflix the other day, looking for something to watch while ironing (I need something to distract me from the banal) I found The Purge: Anarchy. The kids were safely upstairs and out of the way, so I clicked play and switched the steam setting up to high!

I quite enjoyed the original The Purge (2013) and found it to be a decent, and tense horror/thriller. Definitely a “pop corn movie” but it was still a good way to escape for a couple of hours. The sequel does the same. Maybe not as effective as the first (in my opinion) as I guess the stakes are now well-known for Purge Night, but they both generate a significant amount of empathy for the characters (whether or not you sympathise with them) as it is easy to put yourself in their position, and ask yourself the question, “what would I do.”

And it manages this by having such a great concept.

Whether you like the films or not (they are a bit silly) they do have a great concept behind them. One that anyone can understand and immediately know what they are going to get.

WHAT IF, ONE NIGHT A YEAR, ALL CRIME, INCLUDING MURDER, WAS LEGAL FOR 12 HOURS?

Actually, I am sure you could boil the concept down to something even snappier than that, but it does give you the overview of the film in one sentence. It’s shorter than the logline even.

I’m not going to get into discussions about what is considered High-Concept or Low-Concept –  that is probably for another post. However, it did make me think about the importance of concept and I think many successful writers will tell you that, “Concept is King.” If you can’t explain your concept, or are not even aware of it, you may well struggle to write your story. Actually, it doesn’t matter whether we are talking High or Low Concept, being able to articulate your concept is an important skill in writing.

WHAT IF A GREAT WHITE SHARK TERRORISED A PEACEFUL ISLAND COMMUNITY

That pretty much sums things up.

A YOUNG WOMAN MUST PREVENT A BOMB EXPLODING ON A BUSY CITY BUS BY KEEPING IT ABOVE 50mph

Clear?

To be honest, these are probably all examples of High-Concept films, which may well be easier to articulate but, again, that is probably another post.

Regardless, it is obvious that a clear concept will make your story more impactful and saleable, instantly telling everyone what it is about and drawing them in. If it takes you 10 minutes to explain your concept, or you can’t quite pin it down, then you may struggle to get anyone interested in your next great script.

So when planning you next script, think about your concept and, perhaps, test it friends and family to see what their reaction is.

What importance do you place on your concept?

How do you test your concept?

5 Questions to Test your Concept – Go Into the Story

7 Steps to Road Testing your Concept – Bang 2 Write

 

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Posted on September 15, 2016, in concept, empathy, Films, theme, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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