Want to get the creative juices flowing? Here are some different things to consider...
"Give me any two pages of the Bible and I'll give you a picture", Cecil B. DeMille
For illustration, here are some examples of how compelling plotlines can be developed from individual stories or texts from the Bible. Please feel free to choose your own biblical passages or stories for your own pitch.
The Screenwriters Bible
In his highly acclaimed book about writing screenplays, Save the Cat, Blake Snyder lists ten different premises, claiming that all movie plot lines fit into this. We asked writer and film enthusiast Dave Hopwood to take us through the ten premises with an eye for the parallel story in scripture.
Read the first premise below or download all 10 premises.
Rather listen than read? Check out this dramatic reading of the book of Acts, recorded with a great cast by the Riding Lights Theatre company - some of whom have also appeared in Reel Issues Films Productions.
A literary approach
A Literary approach: This website has a proven global appeal for A level literary students, with fascinating background on how the Bible has influenced major texts from Shakespeare to Shelly and from Chaucer to Dickens. Check it out here with a section on the Bible here.
The Bible may seem like an unlikely source of ideas for a successful film. However, many Hollywood movies contain biblical themes – 2012, Atonement, I am Legend, Seven Pounds, The Devil’s Advocate, Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Matrix, The Shawshank Redemption and The Sixth Sense, to name a few.
This competition involves a tougher challenge than merely coming up with your own story and hoping to find a way to weave the Bible into it.
While you’ll need to stick broadly to the original biblical story or text, there’s also lots of room to be creative. This might involve filling in the blanks when things are left unsaid, exploring a key theme in more detail, or revising certain details for the 21st century (e.g. names, locations or imagery).
When reading a biblical story or text, try to boil it down to its essence. How would you sum up the story or passage’s key thought in a single sentence? If you feel drawn to a single verse, make sure you read it in context, as this will help you. If you’re struck by a particular story, think how it could be retold for a modern audience.
To help you find your way around the Bible, we’ve included our own Bible Style Guide. This will help you get to grips with how the Bible is structured, understand key terms and get a handle on its interpretation.
You can also use various versions of the Bible to inspire your pitch. You may want an easy-to-read translation like the Contemporary English Version, Good News Bible or The Message. You might prefer to look to some of the great phrases that have entered the English language, such as ‘the writing’s on the wall’.
Some quick Do's and Don’ts
DO feel free to do your own background research on a text or story that strikes you as interesting.
DON’T try to come up with a storyline yourself and then raid the Bible for a verse that fits.
DO develop an idea organically from the Bible so that your story feels genuine.
DON’T be afraid to use some artistic licence as you develop a storyline from your chosen passage.
DO go off the beaten track. There are lots of biblical stories or texts that have hardly ever been brought to life in the arts.
DON’T be afraid to push boundaries, but also don’t be controversial just for the sake of it.
DO review how you might simply retell biblical narratives.
DON'T assume that narratives should be retold in the original historical contexts – let your imagination go.