How to write a good synopsis

Interested in submitting your project for the Screenlife Contest? Among the materials we’d love to see, please include a one-page synopsis. Don’t make it include every single detail of your story but make sure it has the following: the beginning, middle, and end of your story.

We would love to see how your story will come together, what are its main dramatic beats and what kind of characters jump out at us from your page. Please think about how you can get across the main character arcs. Do all your characters want something? Who is the hero of this story?

If you have a feature film, please break your synopsis down into acts (1,2 and 3). We’d love to know how the plot unfolds. For a series, please provide a synopsis of your pilot and a paragraph describing where the series will go in future episodes. Where do you see this adventure headed?

For a documentary project, your synopsis should reflect similar dramatic concepts to a feature film but also mention - do you have access to your proposed subject? How feasible is it for you to produce this? Why is it timely?

It’s often the case that if the story doesn’t work in a short one-minute presentation, it won’t work as a full-length project. That’s why boiling it down in a solid synopsis can be very helpful for expressing to us (and yourself) what your project is all about and where its emotional appeal lies.

Write on!

How to make an effective “proof of concept” video

To become a finalist in the Screenlife Contest, we will ask you to turn in a video. While we expect HD (1920x1080) resolution, the video should be less than 10-minute-long, encoded in .mp4 format, and under a 100 megs in size. Just make sure to encode at a high-enough bitrate for the quality not to suffer.

What should the video include? Try to vow us, getting across the key elements you want us to understand about your project. Can you make a little teaser, showing us a bit of the world, the characters and the drama of your story? You can use actors or just found or stock footage. Be creative. The technology to make an effective screenlife film is right at your fingertips.

If it’s a documentary, can you include a brief interview or pitch about your subjects(s)?

It would be great to see in your video presentation how you would handle the screenlife format. To that end, you can record the screen of your computer using numerous applications, while for editing we recommend Adobe Premiere but you can ultimately use the software of your choice to achieve the right effect.

Here are some to check out:



Using the mac’s screen recorder

Check out also Andrew Wesman’s tips on how to edit a screenlife film here:


How to know if your idea works with screenlife

You can tell pretty much any idea in the screenlife format. Some may just be impractical - you might not shoot a whole 100-million tentpole on a cellphone screen, but then again - why not?

Dramas, comedies, action films, historical projects, sci-fi, thrillers, horrors, love stories – any narrative genre where the use of screen-capture technology to tell the story can make sense is fair game for a screenlife treatment. Can you tell a fantasy in screenlife? Perhaps not in the traditional “Lord of the Rings” way but a clever approach can certainly be devised.

What’s important is to really make full use of the potential of this groundbreaking and very contemporary approach to filmmaking.

Screenlife is a radical format because it’s about making art from an unprecedented access to our inner workings. Their device is often a very accurate reflection of a modern person. The apps that they use, the way their desktop looks. What kind of files there are. What images. What conversations they are having and how. Are they really paying attention or doing ten million things at once?

Screenlife has the potential to show the true psychological portrait of a character. Use that to your benefit. Think about how you can adapt the basic action premise of your idea to the screens of the characters. If it’s a documentary, a good question to ask – can you get across what you will need about your subject using screens? Are there any impediments or, most likely, advantages to using screenlife? Trying to anticipate potential pitfalls and thinking of how to implement your ideas via screen-based storylelling can be a fountain of potential creativity for you.