How to Make a High Concept Film
The term “High concept” is used in reference to fiction works that are plot-driven and which are easily communicated or pitched thanks to the straightforwardness of the underlying plot. Unlike “low” concept films or stories which tend to be more character-driven and have a heavier focus on building the characters and their fictional world, high concept films are literally explained with a simple plot summary or logline. Learning how to make a high concept film that follows the essential framework of a clearly-defined story that relies on the plot rather than on character development starts with learning how to write a great logline.
As you focus on ways of learning how to make a high concept film, consider the most important elements of this type of story – the plot, which is event driven, and easily pitched. Keeping this in mind, your film should be pitched in three sentences or less, and it should make sense, too!
Follow these tips on how to make a high concept film:
Start with a Premise that’s Easy to Explain
The first step in writing a high concept screenplay or film is to define the premise. What’s the defining concept of your story? How will you make it appeal to the masses?
More importantly, in three sentences or less, how will you explain your premise so that it gains mass approval and understanding? If you can’t explain your film in three sentences or less, you need to go back to the drawing board and simplify a bit.
Create Archetypes that are Familiar, but Fresh
As you continue to focus on learning how to make a high concept film, the next big step after coming up with your premise is to define your archetypes.
Recall that an archetype is a universally understood symbol or behavior pattern, and that certain archetypes are expected or anticipated within a story.
This isn’t the time to fix something that’s not broken! Build your characters off of the known archetypes that people are already familiar with.
In doing so, your agent will be able to help you pitch your film and your audience will already have an expectation that aligns with what you’re going to deliver. You’ll appeal to the masses!
Get Back to Basics in Storytelling
Much of the art that goes into learning how to make a high concept film is about getting back to basics. The success of many high concept films is largely connected to the ability for the filmmaker to tell a story.
Think about the basic concepts of storytelling that you’ve learned over many years — not include those concepts into your film.
Recall that one of the key factors of a high concept film is the ability for success to be replicated, quite simply. If your mind is swirling around ideas that you’ve been successful with in the past, and you’ve got an idea for a sequel, consider it!
Many high concept films are the result of a sequel, series, or follow-up concept. Spin-offs are welcome and offer a safe opportunity to set the pace for your new high concept film ideas.