How to tell the drama of a life in 15 words

My friend Spike sent me this email the other day. I’m not a person who forwards just anything, but this piqued my interest, because of the fascinating way in which the story was born. I’d never heard of this competition, but the short film that won is a lesson in the economical use of dialogue and the pictures that dialogue can inspire in the reader’s mind. If you do nothing else, watch the video. But read this first…

In April 2010 Phillips Electronics launched a global competition, giving aspiring film makers the chance to have an original work judged by one of the world’s greatest film directors – Sir Ridley Scott, director of Hollywood blockbusters including Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and Gladiator (2000). The competition, called “Tell It Your Way,” gave one lucky winner the chance to gain a week’s work experience at Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) offices in Los Angeles, New York, London or Hong Kong. The idea behind the contest was that there are a million ways to tell a story.  The competition involved creating an original 3-minute film that used the same piece of dialogue – a scant six lines.

 “What is that?”

 “A Unicorn.”

“Never seen one up close before.”

 “Beautiful.”

“Get away.”

 “I’m sorry.”

There were over 600 entries.  Scott Chose “Porcelain Unicorn” as the winner. Bruce Schroffel is an old friend from the ad agency biz.  He started the first Internet ad agency in LA.  Retired now, he has a couple of fun hobbies.  Sings in a barbershop quartet.  And acts in neighborhood-theater plays and, occasionally, in small movies.  (He’s a SAG member.)  He’s the man with the box at the end of the winning entry, which you can see below.

And here’s the one that got the People’s Voice award

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