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On the writing of synopses

I'm back from the Oxford Film Festival (more about that in a future entry) and have been completely overwhelmed with backed-up B-Side work, neglected consulting clients, and watching a handful of SXSW films to write some promised synopses.

Distilling the plot and spirit of a film into a hundred words such that any random reader might happen upon them and be compelled to see the film is serious work. Not only is there the economy of language to consider but also the politics of the situation (how to approach a controversial topic without appearing to be glib or bigoted?) and the simple fact that one might not always like the film in question.

Still, it's not something that I encourage filmmakers to attempt for their own films, at least not if you can help it. Grab a friend with an English degree. Steal the synopsis from a festival you've played (you can always ask permission). Hire a publicist. Whatever you do, find someone with a gift for words and a love of movies to write about your film in a way that you cannot. You won't be sorry.


Claudette said...

Glad I can make you work for it!

Atlanta Film Festival said...

Biggest mistake filmmakers make with their synopsis is they leave no mystery. There should be an implied question at the end. Does she graduate? Is he guilty?

Second biggest mistake is writing for filmmakers and not writing for audiences. Audiences generally don't care what camera you shot with, or the production history. Intrigue your audience with the promise of a good story and introduce them to an interesting character or two (that's all you got space for) and they're more likely to show up.

James said...

Great advice. And there are lots of good writers out there who are looking for work like this (ie. film bloggers for instance!)