A couple of years ago an initiative by the London Screenwriters' Festival brought a bunch of writers together to submit short screenplays containing a kiss, there were a few other criteria but the idea was that fifty of the submitted works would be selected and then put out to be made by the filmmaking community and then the best among the restulting productions combined into a feature length film showcasing the work of the writers, directors, actors and crew who had worked under the umbrella of this kissing theme to produce something unique. A multi-genre film featuring a compilation of takes on a very core expression of humanity since as far back as there has been humanity. Kisses.
Touching one's lips to another. It's this kind of weird thing we humans do and to me, the main interest of the project as I've followed it has been how exactly writers and directors would approach showcasing something as simple as a kiss within the complexity of a film that showed multiple similar expressions in multiple situations and genres and still make their own voice and vision clear within that whole. I've followed the project, it's been a long road. Two years of patchwork quilting a bunch of differing content into a one fabric that is warm and pleasing and serves a purpose isn't an easy task for anyone, but with the LSF team behind it, the shape of that fabric has begun to take on it's own design, that of a community that's built outwards from the writers.
I'm a great fan of shorts, the first films ever made were short films and they are an art form all their own, no less valuable in filmic terms because they are small. I love feature films too, they bring depth to ideas and emotions, exploring arcs and curves over a period of time that is long enough to delve into a topic and yet short enough to encapsulate it succinctly creating impact and resolution without requiring the much longer commitment of serial drama.
Features that are compilations of shorts are traditionally a little more of a hard sell, both in terms of attracting and holding audience attention, because they tend to be less character consistent, we don't identify with one person who we stick with from beginning to end. But they are often a great showcase of particular themes of work be it from the same or different sources and as creative endeavours hold a lot of art in the multiple explorations they offer. For instance, my short films don't seem to have very much in common at face value but lumped together three of the four I've shot so far, plus a number of my other unmade screenplays, would show varying perspectives on why we love the people we love, one of a number of recurring themes in my own writing since I began to pen words. Similarly when we look at compilations of short film from differing sources we see not the unifying idea so much as the vaster exploration of it, like for instance a friend of mine worked with Bertolluci on Ten Minutes Older: The Cello and in that compilation there is a uniting theme of time explored by some of our times great directors though their own interpretation and art. In such compliations we see not only an exploration of theme from different angles but revealed through differing minds, allowing us to think, to challenge our own views with multiple others. Compilation films (outside of the porn industry) may be a rare, less popular and therefore less commercial prospect but they do have value within film creation, because in many ways it's easy to make a work that stands alone, but if you can make a work that stands proud amid a crowd of others of the same ilk, then you've truly proved the value of your work as writer, director, actor, crew etc. and to me, that seems like a very worthy thing to spring from an organisation like the London Screenwriters' Festival.
50 Kisses has had a long energetic journey (as most films do) to a world premiere on 13/02/2014 and I'll be attending to see the result, meet some of the thousands of people who contributed to the project, those who ran and oversaw it, and those who are just, like me, observers and see how it all fits together and to establish what and who resonates and what doesn't and maybe identify some people I would like to work with in future and who's future or other works I will want to explore. How it will be in terms of a fantastic success I cannot tell, except I know from experience that there will be a lot of fun to be had on the night and a feel good factor around an event that is not the culmination of a journey but the beginning of one as the work connects for the first time with an audience. As ever I'll be on Twitter @momentsoffilm sharing my experience. Do join me in person or online and see what you think of something that is neither a shorts or feature screening but that rarer, more elusive beast of compliation that brings new aspects to those forms of film we already love so well. And I can promise you this.. there will be kisses.