50 Kisses is the first screenwriting competition I’ve ever entered, though it’s not likely to be the last! I was struck by its simple yet ambitious premise; 50 2-page scripts, 50 little stories, 50 talented filmmakers, 50 on-screen kisses. It was a chance to write a script that would get read and evaluated and potentially even seen by hundreds of film-makers hungry for material to polish up and turn into amazing shorts. How could I pass it up?
Especially as, corny though it will sound, the perfect idea had come to me in a dream. I’d dreamt that I’d bought a new tab, one which came with some nifty screenwriting software. To test it out, I sketched out a couple of scenes in which Geek Boy meets Geek Girl entirely in mime. I’d woken up and, rarely for ideas that come in dreams, found that it had a coherent beginning, middle and end. It had everything I could hope for – a simple premise, a feel-good vibe, a Buffy reference. It stuck with me, waiting for the right opportunity to get itself written.
I didn’t win. You only have to look up at the title of this post or at the list of winners to determine that. But, as the old cliché goes, it’s not the winning that matters. I was incredibly happy to make the longlist (even if my name did get hilariously misspelled on the list) and proud to think that my second ever script was considered nearly good enough to come close to potentially winning maybe. And not winning didn’t mean that my script wouldn’t get made.
I’d already collaborated with a good friend of mine named James Boucher, an aspiring director working under the banner Black Stump Films. Together we created Jeremy, a dark little tale of a disturbed young man using a zombie apocalypse to get closer to the object of his affections. I asked him if he’d be willing to lend his vision to Geek Love, and happily for me he agreed.
It was a surprisingly quick shoot. We had a budget of somewhere in the region of £0, but James and his partner Mel Toal have heaps of talent and shiny cameras so that wasn’t a worry. We had a sum total of two meetings; one to make some plans and choose the music (we went for ‘Quand je serai grand’ by Lohstana David) and one to actually get it filmed. Luckily it’s a script that’s low on props & design needs as well as dialogue. It would have been much more ambitious and laborious otherwise.
We went to local pub The Johnson Arms, settled into a corner of the beer garden and got to work. It was just a group of friends on a cold blustery day huddling together trying to put together something that might make someone smile. James bodged together a dolly that didn’t work properly. I spent an afternoon getting kissed on the cheek by one of my closest friends while my girlfriend flirtatiously teased another friend in the background with a cuddly frog. It was that kind of afternoon.
It’s an interesting experience, bringing your script to life. There’s something liberating about sharing your vision with others, changing and refining it into something workable. I’ve only had the tiniest taste of it, and I know I want more. I’m lucky enough to have a friend willing to listen to my mad ideas and help me give them form. This is step one. Look out, step two, wherever you are. I’m coming.