Thursday, October 13, 2005

High Concept

Working at a film distribution company, I read a lot of query emails and faxes coming in from production companies with films looking for distribution.  This week there is an inordinate amount of this spam because there are two big distributor’s conferences coming up in the next month and everyone is trying to generate buzz about their new product.  Most of the movies pitched in these direct mailings sound just wretched.  Most of the time I quickly scan through the listings and then junk them.  Then, this morning, I read this:

*Title Omitted By Me*
(Creature Feature/Thriller)
“In a cross between Predator and Con Air. . .”


That was the first half of the first sentence.  The synopsis goes on for another paragraph.  I didn’t even bother to read the rest of it; those eight words are too perfect.  Whatever this movie is actually about, it probably doesn’t live up to that golden premise.  

Wait. . .

Yeah, I just read the rest of the synopsis.  It’s a big let down.  Something about bank robbers on a mountain getting eaten by a monster.  BOOOO.  How is that like Con Air?  I believe Con Air took place largely on a plane.  In the air.  Being on a mountain isn’t the same thing.  I might just have to write “a cross between Predator and Con Air” myself.


Steve Bell said...

Being on the other side of the fence and pitching a movie for distribution-- you need to know it's hard (or would be if I didn't have some contacts in high places)

Getting the pitch down is not easy - "Secret Revelation - A thriller blending Total Recall and The Bourne Identity" doesn't give the best sales pitch in the world.

Anyhow-- It's not easy but well worth it...

Paul said...

“Total Recall meets Bourne Identity” is a weak pitch because it mashes up two high concepts that are essentially the same. Both movies have a similar core plot of “guy with amnesia discovers he’s a super spy.” So “Total Recall meets Bourne Identity” is essentially saying, “Concept A meets Concept A”. If Total Recall were being made today it would be probably be pitched as “The Bourne Identity in Space” and this description, while overlooking much of what’s great about Total Recall, is not entirely wrong.

But "Predator meets Con Air?" Surely that premise was designed by Archimedes and forged in solid gold by the mighty hand of Hephaestus himself.

But then I enjoy Con Air more than is probably reasonable.

Jeff said...

You enjoy Con Air as much as ANY RATIONAL PERSON SHOULD.

It is the last great goofy American action movie. They really don't make them like that anymore.

Frank said...

The movie you were pitched clearly sounds like a cross between Predator and Cliffhanger, not Con Air.

Steve Bell said...


I think you hit a massive nail on the head for me and really helped clarify the pitch problem I have. (Had)
Following your logic the pitch should have been : "Secret Revelation - The Bourne Identity in Area 51"
I think this would work much better...
Many thanks