50 Kisses is the first of the Create50 projects from LSWF headed up by Chris Jones and Judy Goldberg. Select 50 short scripts from almost 2000 entries, ask directors from around the world to turn them into films, then select the best finished products and create a feature out of them.
50 Kisses really is a triumph of collaboration, at every single level, and a story from which aspiring film-makers can learn a lot.
From the early script selection process all the way through to the final edit, the power of many voices is evident. I’d been lucky enough to be on the script reading team at the beginning and was excited to see what had become of the 50 chosen scripts.
The result is simply awesome! Around 25 films made it to the final cut, each of which holds their own perfectly as a stand-alone piece. From Beryl a comedy about a couple of old ladies playing a trick on a handsome young man, to Smasheroo a heart-stoppingly beautiful portrayal of a husband and wife struggling to cope after an accident, to Neil a classic sci-fi tale asking what makes us human – every film, whilst not always to everyone’s taste, is compelling in its own way.
And yet 50 Kisses still manages to be bigger and better than the sum of those incredible parts. Overall director Chris Jones and his team have woven together a simply stunning film that despite not having any tangible through-narrative as such, tells a story that runs deeper than plot.
I’ve always believed audiences are far more intelligent than most film-makers give them credit for, and 50 Kisses certainly has a huge amount of respect for its audience. It has the ability to make you laugh out loud one minute, and be teary-eyed the next. And it asks a lot of the audience – to engage and empathise with multiple characters, whilst also finding your own narrative amongst its many parts. But it’s also exactly what a movie should be – entertainment. You can sit back and relax into it, or you can lean in and look closer, finding more and more with each viewing.
And that’s what ultimately makes it a success – it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, rewarding and entertaining movie. It harnesses the power of collaboration and multiple voices to stir an audience on many different levels, in many different ways.
It will be very exciting to see not just what Create50 does next, but also what the individual film-makers turn their creative eye to. I’ve heard of some great partnerships emerging from this project already and that’s exactly what the film industry needs!
As film-makers, there’s lots we can learn from 50 Kisses. However, for now just watch and enjoy!