The Judges: Week 2

In 2011, each week 10 judges will review two short synopses from films that are currently in development.

Today: a socio-political drama and a children’s movie.

Please comment on our comments!

Creative Commons License photo credit: swanksalot

If you have an opinion on any of these synopses or the feedback from the judges, please share it with us in the comments below.

Please keep the discussion constructive. Even if your first instinct may be subjective, try to give us as objective a reply as possible.


“San Francisco 1934: The city is like a powder keg, just waiting for a spark to set the place on fire.
That spark arrives in the shape of Harry Bridges, a fast-talking, hard drinking, self-educated gambling man
from Australia with the dangerous belief that
free speech and grass roots democracy can change the world.
As the economy crashes around him this loquacious union man inspires the Californian longshoreman – black and white – to transform their lives from ‘Wharf Rats’ to ‘Lord of the Docks’.”

The judges’ votes:

Do you want to see this film?

Yes: 66% – No: 0% – Not sure: 33%

Would Australians want to see it?

Yes: 56% – No: 0% – Not sure: 44%

Would it work in rest of the world?

Yes: 56% – No: 0 % – Not sure: 44%

The judges’ verdict:

Karel: The filmmakers have an agenda: pushing the case of free speech and that’s ok. But rather than showing a character who’s campaigning for this case, I’d prefer to see a strongly personal angle or perhaps a metaphor showing what happens in the absence free speech. Right now this is pitched as a political movie and this genre may not work, unless it has a different, very personal story carrying it.

There is too much information.

Robin: I’m interested in the protagonist but there is no antagonist mentioned. Is there opposition? Does he do this easily?

This genre may not work.

Jack: There is too much information.  A simpler alternative would be:  “In 1934 a hard drinking fast talking Australian struggles to improve the working conditions of a disparate group of longshoremen, with explosive results”.


Animated adaptation of the classic Australian children’s book The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek.
Bunyip emerges from a waterhole not knowing
who he is or how he came to be. He begins a journey
through the Australian countryside to find someone to tell him
who he is, only to discover that the answer lies at home.

The judges’ votes:

Do you want to see this film?

Yes:  33% – No: 44 % – Not sure:  23%

Would Australians want to see it?

Yes: 34% – No:  11% – Not sure:  55%

Would it work in rest of the world?

Yes:  22% – No:  0% – Not sure:  78%

The judges’ verdict:

Margaret: First of all, I’m not Australian so I had to look up what a Bunyip was.  So that already indicates that without some really good advertising, you might lose the international audience simply due to lack of familiarity.  The story seems pretty classic to children’s literature, but also rather simple.  What makes this feature length worthy?  I gather that it’s an adventure story but what is the high point or low point?  Is there a fear he has to overcome?  Does he makes friends along the way?  Enemies?  Is this a grand adventure, or a small sweet story?  Since I didn’t grow up reading it, there is no way for me to tell.

Is this a grand adventure, or a small sweet story?

Nina: I suggest the synopsis also include: a few words about the antagonist; what  else, besides the antagonist, stands in his way; plus the bunyip’s flaws. This additional material would expand the storyline and give us more to engage with.

It’s only the log line that’s got me interested.

Dan: I love this sort of thing – in fact I really hope it’s done properly. I’m not familiar with the book so it’s only the log line that’s got me interested.

The Judges (click for details)

So what is your verdict? Would you want to see these films? Why (not)? Did the judges get it right? How would you improve the synopses/loglines and what do you feel might improve the stories behind them?

Please give us your opinion in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “The Judges: Week 2”

  1. Bridges has so much potential – I am interested. The Bunyip sounds a bit simple and reads as if it is aimed at 2y.o. rather than 10y.o. – maybe it is? Though 2y.o. can’t sit still in a cinema…

  2. Bridges: I would agree with Karel, in a biopic such as this pushing an agenda may alienate your audience. Erin Brokervich tackled a story of social concern but still had personal dramatic story as its structure. Would I see it – yes.

    The Bunyip: Discussions of titles and advertising are best left to marketers, don’t you think? Skellig and The Gruffalo are two recent titles I have viewed. The titles at first were meaningless to me did this did not affect my enjoyment of the story. The Bunyip synopsis is a standard story of self-discovery and if the material is handled well, it should be enjoyable for the ‘intended’ audience. Would I see it – yes.


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