Which Write of Passage Stories Will Win? Verse & Theme, Table Reads

The Write of Passage writers and their mentors (Development Executives or DE's) are busily dining on scripture and creativity in hopes that they will pen the best story in the contest.

Top scripts compete for $1,000 cash, prizes and Hollywood introductions and expert critique from writer/producers Luke Schelhaas ("Law and Order," "Smallville") and Brian Bird ("Not Easily Broken").  Final drafts are due Monday at 5 PM PT.  Please pray for our courageous writers and DE's.

Here's an insiders view of some of their struggles & questions.

Regarding judging of the Write of Passage Screenplays, here's a question from Kathy Larson (in Charlotte, NC).  A discussion of the verse and theme follows.

Q: Is "shoot-ability" (or production probability) a criteria for judging the scripts?  i.e. a story idea that probably won't be produced (due to big budget, futuristic set needs, or an exotic location, etc).  Would you say a production like this can't win the contest?

A: No, this is a story competition, so the best stories will win.  But getting produced is a goal for many writers and a huge honor. So, if that is the goal, writers will be smart about anticipating the resources and tools that are available to our indie filmmakers.

If you assume that a producer will spend $2000 to $10,000 on a 10-11 minute short, then you can easily write for that.  Because of the great creativity of our community, low budget doesn't have to mean a "walk and talk" script.

However, if you write the next "Star Wars," don't sit waiting by the phone.  This kind of 12-page script is more a means to a feature version script and not an end in itself.

168 and WOP will be announcing a series of table reads soon to give exposure for the best films.  Actors, Stay tuned.  We will need your help.



The theme is "Atonement: Winning the Other Side"

Whether we are perpetrators or victims, some things are just wrong and must be set right. Often this involves great humility and dedication to bridge the divide.  Measuring our attempts at reparation against the ultimate reparation in Jesus Christ, this year's journey explores the courage of those willing to do what it takes to win others' confidence, love and salvation; the blessings of atonement.

The verse is:
Proverbs 14:9 Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright. (NIV)


The verse breaks down into a few simple elements:

1. Fools that scoff at sin and atonement for it.
2. Those who are upright and take sin and atonement seriously and
3. (who) therefore find goodwill from God and men in their efforts.

So, how should do we make a story of this?

The best idea is to make the verse into a story that has relevance for today.  It can be metaphorical or literal to the verse, writer's choice.  Another goal idea is to make the script do-able: i.e. a film that could be shot in an  attainable location inexpensively.

We want to see these stories on the screen, so relevant, visceral, high-stakes tales of passion and intrigue are what we need.

The theme's synopsis above points to the atonement part of this verse, describing it as
an imitation of the selflessness with which Jesus willingly died for us.

That does not mean this imitation is an easy thing to do for proud humans.  On the contrary it often takes great patience, humility and dedication.

Writer Mark Baird correctly guessed that since Atonement is the theme, we chose the translation that emphasizes mocking the offering, or the atonement for sin, as opposed to mocking the sin itself.  The "mockers" can be a very small part of the story or they could be the focus.  Again, it's up to the writer to choose.

Regardless, special care should be taken to focus on the atonement, or making things right with others.

Some commentaries on this verse note that: Fools mock at the sin-offering; but those that make light of sin, make light of Christ.  (http://www.christnotes.org).

While it is not necessary to introduce Jesus as a character, the most clever of writers could well find a way to gently point back to the ultimate atonement as detailed in this verse:

Romans 3:25-26 New Living Translation (NLT and other)

"For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.  People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just and he saves and justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

To excel in the contest, the writers will study these fascinating verses including the words propitiation and atonement.  

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