One of the phrases you hear bandied around in film and in television on both sides of the pond is “high concept”. It gets misused a lot, and not only by amateurs and newbies – but essentially it’s a term for stories that could be summarised in one sentence, stories that any busy exec could grasp even if a writer button-holed him in an elevator for thirty seconds. One of the most famous classic high-concept pitches was the pitch for Alien, which, allegedly, was just “It’s Jaws in space.”
Another superb high-concept pitch sold today, according to Variety: an R-rated comedy called “Cherries” from writers Jim Kehoe and Brian Kehoe.
“Cherries” follows three naive dads who set out to stop their daughters from making good on a pact to lose their virginity on prom night.
More details, courtesy of Scott Myers at Go Into The Story, at http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2012/11/spec-script-sale-cherries.html .
Not really my kind of movie, but damn, great concept!
But wait a minute, there’s something else we can learn about movie concepts here. “Cherries” isn’t just an idea, it’s a conflict. And it’s a conflict in which neither side is going to give way.
Those dads are determined to keep their daughters pure as the driven snow; the daughters are determined to go all the way on this very special night. Can you see either side backing down? Agreeing to give up and go home? Even finding a compromise?
Nope. And those are the kinds of conflicts that drive movies. James Bond and Blofeld will never agree to disagree. The shark in Jaws won’t listen to a reasoned argument. Old Joe and Young Joe in Looper will never find a compromise that gives them both what they want.
If there’s no way you can imagine either side in your central conflict giving way, then you’ve got yourself a movie…