Thursday, 9 August 2012

toast's Go Viral contest is spreading!

toast’s Go Viral script to screen contest in association with creative hub IdeasTap has kicked up a storm. But with three weeks left, we’re eager for even more of the world to hear about this great opportunity for someone under 30 to get their viral script made into a high-end production.

In its first week, we gained media coverage from the BBC Writers Room, Broadcast and Televisual magazine. Plus, we had loads of Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus approvals from you, not to mention the newsletters, blogs and forum posts that you sent out for us.

In the second week we blogged a series of top tips from our team of experts, including VW Bomber director and competition judge Stuart Fryer, toast producer and judge Jeremy Dunn, and screenwriter Martin Sadofski. We are absolutely delighted to see so many of you reading these posts.

But, as with any viral, it’s never enough! We want the world and his mother to share this competition! Remember, anyone can enter between the age of 16-30 and it can be about absolutely anything so long as it can be filmed in London over the course of a few days. For further details read the brief on IdeasTap.

For up to the minute competition updates follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Plus, you can get our regular blog updates by subscribing to our RSS feed in the top right hand corner. Good luck to you!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Top Go Viral tips from toast's online content manager

Hello! I am Vicky McNaught-Davis, the online content manager at toast and one of the Go Viral contest judges. Here are my top tips for going viral:

1. Know what a viral is

A film going viral is the dream of many a brand, scriptwriter and production company.  Essentially, it means being watched and promoted through the sheer force of the entertainment value of the video. The first viral video that I remember was Ok Go’s ‘Here It Goes’. It’s a surprising, low-fi video that energised an otherwise fairly average song through a labyrinth of a dance routine. This highlights the need for unexpectedness to ‘go viral’. ‘Here It Goes’ was so weird and entertaining that it evoked a strong reaction in everyone who watched it, so they shared it.

2. Know what type of viral works

Large quantities of viral videos arrive from incidental circumstances, such as Fenton the dog chasing deer across Richmond Park. But those types of virals don’t have a message to convey and arrive through sheer luck. If you want to script a viral, you have to put on a display for the bored at work network to want to share. The Obama girl was an entertaining piece of political campaigning, as are Cassette Boy’s parodies of UK TV. These things were shared because they have a social point that appealed to the middle classes at their desks.

3. Know your audience

These people, myself included, have a short attention span. So, a viral must be succinct and easy to share. A top tip from Marketing Week Live 2012 for me was that cats rule the internet. I found this to be true when I Tweeted the advice and it got re-Tweeted to thousands of others. This is because people across the globe love cats and pictures of cats, but it’s still a personal eccentricity that’s shared by a huge online community.

4. Get inspired

Ad Age recently launched a YouTube monitoring service, which shows you the top viral videos of the day that you visit it on. So, you can see what trends are popular at the moment and the types of videos that are receiving the most shares. That said, originality will make your work a more enduring accomplishment, so don’t be a copycat.

Keep up to date with our video production tips, news and analysis by subscribing to our RSS feed in the top right hand corner, or join us on Twitter and Facebook. Click here for competition tips from producer Jeremy Dunn, click here for tips from script writer Martin Sadofski and click here for tips from viral director Stuart Fryer. Click here to apply.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Top Go Viral script to screen tips from Martin Sadofski

Martin Sadofski is a playwright and screenwriter. His first play ‘Outside of Heaven’ premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London. After that he spent two years as writer in residence at the National Theatre. He has had many single dramas broadcast for the BBC and ITV and worked for Miramax as a script doctor. Here he offers Go Viral competition entrants some brilliant script writing tips. He writes:

There isn’t much time here. So the idea you have has to matter. The viewer has to care and care quickly. So in short get to the point of your short fast! Some tips to consider.

1. Keep it simple.

You can’t establish a lot with complicate setups. In scripts this short it is good to think about adverts that tell stories. They do this well and don’t hang about. My advice is to go for one character and stay focussed on them. Can you pitch the idea in a lift to someone who is going up one floor?  This is the classic Hollywood elevator pitch test. Can you quickly tell the story in few lines and make the producer in the lift go WOW!

2. Define your hero.

Find something in your hero in which everyone can relate to, something universal. Quickly make them unique and different. In fact, if they're not, why write them?  Give that character an action or have them make a choice.  This is a dilemma and audiences root for a character who has a dilemma -   let the audience know right away who’s story this is.

3. Start strong and end strong.

Whenever you go to festivals or you’re surfing online, I bet you know  in the first ten seconds if you’re hooked. First impressions are everything. Do something right off the bat that grabs your audience's attention. As I said earlier, your hero needs to be defined quickly. Why not have your hero do something unexpected. It will let your audience know who he is, and it will grab their attention.

And remember that last impressions are lasting. Be sure to end with some sort of emotional punch. If you're doing a comedy, end on a laugh. Whatever your tone, make sure you give the audience a final impression that will keep them thinking about your short.

4. Once upon a time...

Tell the story to yourself like your telling a fairy story.  Fairy stories cut to the chase. They stay on story, they don’t describe anything else but the immediate action.  That’s why “Goldilocks was walking through the woods when she found a cottage. She went inside and found three bowls of porridge.”  Is better than “ It was lovely sunny day, the birds were whistling and the sky was blue. Along came a small thin girl with yellow hair and freckles who loved life and.... “ ZZZZZZZ.  It’s a screenplay not a novel! Screenplays are about action. Characters in a screenplay are ONLY defined by the actions they take.  SHOW DONT TELL.  Is a good mantra to have.  Don’t  tell me that Billy loves his mum – show me.

5. What happens next?

The audience only care about one thing. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Don’t have a character hanging about doing nothing.  Make things happen to them – put them in jeopardy.  Excite the audience.  And it doesn’t have to be an action film. A small film about boy meets girl still needs  action, inciting incidents. Setbacks, arguments. Resolution.

6. What does the hero want? What’s stopping him getting it?

This will drive the action of the plot. And its good to keep it in mind. It drives your story. Winnie the Pooh wants the honey. The bees are out to stop him. How does Pooh fool the bees get the honey? That’s a classic three act structure. A character wants something – Indiana Jones wants to find the ark.  So do the Nazis. Its a race. Who will win? I’m hooked.

7. Desire.

It’s hard to get involved in a film  if the story has no meaning. A character needs to be tested. The thing that they want should mean the world to them. If they care about it we will care about it. Charlie wants to find a golden ticket because more than anything he wants to get inside that chocolate factory.  Great characters will suffer anything to get their prize.

8. The Hemmingway principle.

Hemmingway wisely said “the first draft of anything is shit.”  So rewrite and rewrite again. And each time cut anything that holds up getting to the next scene.

9. No one is black and white.

Make your characters flawed. Make your villain likeable, make your hero a jerk sometimes. In short make your characters human.

10. Hitchcock

Pictured: A still from Hitchcock's Rebecca.
Alfred Hitchcock said: “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”  So keep it short. Fascinating and end it with a surprise.

Keep up to date with our video production tips, news and analysis by subscribing to our RSS feed in the top right hand corner, or join us on Twitter and FacebookClick here for competition tips from producer Jeremy Dunn and click here for tips from viral director Stuart Fryer. Click here to apply.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Top Go Viral tips from director Stuart Fryer

Viral director Stuart Fryer is a valued talent at toast. Notable previous work of his has included the Flomax Pman commercial, the infamous VW Bomber viral and various Oasis videos. Next up on his to do list is directing and judging our Go Viral competition. Below are his musings on the competition. Leave us a comment if you have any questions regarding entries or production tips and we will relay them to our team of experts. Stuart writes:

Those creatives at BBH who get to write ideas for British Airways get it lucky.
When budget is not an issue, then writing the idea:

The plane taxis through London hotspots showing the diversity of the great city to then park up at the Olympic Stadium.

…becomes easy, with a squillion quid at your mercy.

The real challenge is the short film budget idea. Let me explain...

Cast. More than four people gets expensive. Got to clothe them, feed them, etc.

Location. Too many locations or set ups in a shoot day may mean to many creative sacrifices along the way, or simply just not possible.

Outside. Can’t guarantee the weather in this country that is a given, so try not open with ‘A sunny day...’ Don’t make weather an important part of the film.

Don’t set it outside a landmark. ‘We open outside the Olympic Park’. The producer would freak.

Logos and trademarks. Would love to dress a kid up as Darth Vader and make that VW spot but George would not let us.

Special Effects. I love them but the best ones you don’t notice. We can’t have an army of aliens invading even if your best made is an after effects wizard.

Music. I would love to have a Rolling Stones track over the viral but Universal will want us to re-mortgage our house for that.

In 30 seconds with a simple plot and good actors we can do a lot. We can frighten, amuse, move, inform, educate.

Maybe try and infuse some politics into the idea. All good art these days, including the advertising commercial, reflects society. Lets make people think about the world.

We just gotta keep it simple.It is all in the idea. A great idea can be directed by your gran. So, I can't wait to read your ideas. Lets make something that the whole world watches.

Keep up to date with our video production tips, news and analysis by subscribing to our RSS feed in the top right hand corner, or join us on Twitter and FacebookClick here for competition tips from producer Jeremy Dunn and click here for tips from script writer Martin Sadofski. Click here to apply to toast's Go Viral contest.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Top Go Viral production tips from Jeremy Dunn

Corporate video and television commercial producer Jeremy Dunn has worked at toast for over eight years and is one of the company directors. Jeremy is scheduled to produce and judge the Go Viral script contest winner’s idea, and constructed much of the contest himself. His clients have included Innocent DrinksMorgan Stanley and LadyLucksHere he provides some top production tips for young creatives planning to submit their scripts. He writes:

In my view, this is a great opportunity for someone out there to really shine, and make a name for themselves.

Whether you have had an idea that's been bouncing around your head for years or have just had a eureka moment, the Go Viral competition could just be your fast track to the top. Worse case, you get a professional, director led piece of lovely work that will be yours forever to show off.

From a producers perspective I can't wait to see what scripts come in. 

In an ideal world I'd loved to be amazed, shocked, disturbed, in stitches... whatever it takes really. The key for me is that it has to fit the classic 30-second time frame, which actually is harder than it sounds.

30 seconds on the one hand is short and sweet, but with the right idea… its actually loads of time to 'stop' the world and make us all stand up and take notice. 

The 30 seconds should have a beginning, middle and end, and not necessarily in that order. 30 seconds gets you from the start, leaves you guessing or simply spins you round and spits you out. It’s up to you.

Whichever way you choose to go I promise the young winner will get the best we, as a production house can offer, from the directing brilliance of Stuart Fryer, to the latest HD cameras, to top notch finishing facilities.

I will pull out all the stops to ensure that the winning entry will have their 30 seconds of fame.

So, good luck and get scribbling!

Keep up to date with our video production tips, news and analysis by subscribing to our RSS feed in the top right hand corner, or join us on Twitter and FacebookWatch out for some top Go Viral tips from our competition director Stuart Fryer later this week. Click here to apply.