Impact50 Phase 2... One writer’s perspective by Ben Marshall

Whilst most enjoyed the sun last Sunday, I spent it with the Create 50 team and other end of the world enthusiasts. Blue sky indoors. The plan, to help the team assess where the Impact film is, where it is going and suggest ideas about how a Phase 2, if adopted, could look. The group included a mix of those involved at day one to those newer to the project. We discussed how a Phase 1 film will look as it is; its strengths and weaknesses; where it could be added to and how viable is a Phase 2 vision.

Overwhelmingly, the consensus, was that we have great films, great scripts and a great product. It just doesn’t feel complete. It feels there is potential for more. There were numerous ideas suggested and a number of initiatives will be launched. Options to hopefully excite filmmakers and writers and, ultimately, thrill audiences.


The focus of this blog is to review what I saw as the most difficult discussion of the day. The bit I knew was coming and I had given much thought to in advance. The issue I expect everyone has a view on and has the potential to divide writers and filmmakers. Should Phase 2 be limited to just winning scripts; all submitted scripts or should anything be possible?


My brief background is that I submitted a total of 17 scripts during the writing phase.


Rock.Paper.Scissors was one of the winning 55 and I decided to produce it myself with help from great filmmakers. Nevertheless, I still feel attached to all the scripts I submitted.

When Phase 2 was first announced I immediately (and firmly) raised my own concern on the forum about the project being open to any new script or idea. I did likewise during our discussions. The initiative is to connect writers and filmmakers, right? The winning scripts went through a vigorous vetting process with winners picked for good reason. The writing phase was open to all filmmakers if they wanted to submit a script. The many great non-winning scripts were all developed and improved through peer review. I raised the risk that we could now have some amazing looking films with wonderful acting, possibly let down by an unseen and untested script.


These are points Chris and the team are acutely aware of but I became acutely aware that limiting films to only scripts submitted is not sustainable or in the interests of the final film. We know the films we have and we know where the gaps are. For me, it’s conflict (possible chaos); humour and diversity. We also now know more of the tone of this film. What the Impact50 world will feel like. There are many submitted scripts which will tick these boxes and, again, I will certainly shout about my own scripts which could add value and champion other writer’s scripts which stayed with me...some two years on.


My ideal world, writer's perspective, was suggesting to keen filmmakers to ignore their own ideas and invest their time and money where their heart may not be.  Into an idea which might not make best use of the resources available to them. It was an impossible task to persuade the team this is best for the end film and I now have to agree.  Fixed rules on ideas and passion can’t work.


The beauty about Impact50 and the community is that it evolves. It is unpredictable. I think Chris and the team accept that the winning scripts have not generated enough films to meet its potential. For whatever reason. That gaps are only now clear to see. Phase 2 is about enhancing the existing films and writing and adding to it with fresh ideas and fresh perspective.

The agreement* is therefore a two pronged attack which I will leave the team to provide specifics about. Essentially, prong one, is to prioritise the and platform the unproduced winning scripts (details to follow) while prong two, leaves it open for filmmakers to choose the films they wish to make, whether winning scripts, any submitted script or an original idea of their own. To give filmmakers more freedom to do what they do.


*Note, details and wording are still being nailed down.


New initiatives will be introduced to add further layers and spice to the more traditional short film format. The drone shot challenge for instance (plus several challenges more to be revealed).


Personally, this proposed balance feels the right and exciting way to go.


It will, I hope, engage the whole community. Where will this take us exactly and exactly what film will we have in several months time? We just do not know and, for me, this is the awesome part.


Ben Marshall


'Rock. Paper. Scissors', written by Ben Marshall, produced by Ben Marshall

Ben Marshall (writer) produces his own script, Rock.Paper.Scissors, in collaboration with film makers James Skinner...


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Comments: 26
  • #1

    Vera Mark (Friday, 15 June 2018 19:10)

    Thank you for your clear and honest words, Ben - and once again (never enough) thanks to the Impact team around Chris for their heroic perseverance (and unbelievable patience, given some of the feedback).

    While it may be painful for some winning scripts - including mine - not to have been made and now, with the new outlook, possibly not being made because they fall into one of the categories already brimming with excellent films, I for one agree with the 'gap' argument and that it's got to be about the overarching result. If that requires opening the project up, while respecting those films already made - as Chris has confirmed numerous times - in accordance with the rules that were up right from the beginning, then I'm all for it.

    Here's one suggestion for writers who have already invested a lot (time, scripts, blood sweat & tears): become a filmmaker. Make your own script, or someone else's, an existing one or a new one (I look forward to seeing what the ideas and guidelines for that will be - can't be 'more of the same' but something that lifts this project up where it belongs). Let's all work together to make this film as amazing as it can be.

  • #2

    Chris Jones (Friday, 15 June 2018 19:29)

    Thanks Vera, agree with all the above. I was myself a little intimidated when we talked through everything that needs to happen in order to complete, and it really is a mountain of time, cash, blood, sweat and tears.

  • #3

    Michele Florea (Friday, 15 June 2018 20:56)

    Ben, thanks for your account of the meeting, and for your thoughts. Just a brief word to say that I agree with every point you raised, except for the one that mentions allowing the filmmakers to bring in their own ideas. As I've pointed out several times before, there are 2000+ scripts available from which any filmmaker can choose. Inviting them to bring in their own scripts will only invalidate the entire writing competition. I still maintain that there is enough material for any filmmaker on the site to create something beautiful and memorable.

  • #4

    Chris Jones (Friday, 15 June 2018 21:42)

    Hi Michele, I don't believe a second phase with new ideas does invalidate anything. Rather it opens up new possibilities. I think Ben put it rather well...

    'My ideal world, writer's perspective, was suggesting to keen filmmakers to ignore their own ideas and invest their time and money where their heart may not be. Into an idea which might not make best use of the resources available to them.'

    That kind of nails it.

    In reality filmmakers have had 13 months to be encouraged to make a winning script. For whatever reason, this has not transpired on a scale where we have a film worthy of the original idea.

  • #5

    Michele Forea (Friday, 15 June 2018 22:27)

    Chris, what might’ve been holding the filmmakers back could be that they had to do one winning script before they could do a wildcard. Which meant filming two films. I think if they can choose from any script on the site they would easily find something that they’d like to do.

  • #6

    Michele Florea (Friday, 15 June 2018 22:48)

    Also, as Kim said in a different post, had the rules been different, she would have produced another script of hers, as would I!
    With all the respect, gratitude, and affection that I have for you and the competition, I think this is wrong and that it penalizes the ones who have so far followed all the rules and guidelines.
    Have you thought about opening it for to all the scripts without the wildcard requirement?

  • #7

    Jane Hamer (Friday, 15 June 2018 22:56)

    It's wonderful to hear such positive responses. And it's understandable too that there's still concerns, but once Chris is able to reveal the entire plan and the direction things are heading it will all make sense. And there's some incredible new opportunities for everyone: filmmakers, producers and writers to get involved in, in ways that wasn't previously possible. As Ben said, there's a lot of layers going to be added that will greatly enhance what we already have more exciting opportunities to come for everyone.

  • #8

    Ben Marshall (Saturday, 16 June 2018 00:28)

    Michele, re the wildcard rule - looking back, I’d say the focus quite rightly was on the winning scripts. To get as many produced as possible so it made every sense to have a wildcard film conditional on making a winning script. To have allowed any script to be made from the outset would have surely made winning pointless. If that focus had produced all the scripts with a number of wildcards we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Looking forward, the spotlight will still be on winning scripts and all submitted scripts, at least the standout ones which also fill the gaps. I fully expect those involved in the writing phase will wave a flag for those ones.

  • #9

    Michele Florea (Saturday, 16 June 2018 01:02)

    Ben i have no qualms with the wildcard. It was needed at first. I am just talking about now. I am saying phase 2 could be to get rid of that rule and open up all the scripts.

  • #10

    Scott Young (Saturday, 16 June 2018 07:55)

    I think the thing that bugs me the most is how elitist this meeting last Sunday comes across, to me anyway. It would have been a very easy process to bring in a couple big screen TVs and a computer with teleconferencing software on it, and open the meeting up to some of those people who were "deeply involved from the beginning," but who don't live in England. Nicole in Canada, Michele in Arizona, Evan in California, Dave in Florida, and many others from different places in the world. But, no, the "team" ushered in their friends, their buddies, their pals, and this meeting that affects 55 writers and 40+ filmmakers -- close to 100 people in all, if not a little more -- was conducted with about 25 people all from within a short distance of their offices. We live in a technological world, but no one bothered to use the technology to make this a completely democratic and fair meeting. And that's all I'll say about it. Since I've withdrawn my four films, I don't feel I have the right to make any further comments about the ideas discussed or presented, thus far. Chris knows how I feel anyway. But I do feel I can speak my mind on how this whole process has been handled. And, knowing how things have been lately, I'm pretty sure this post will be deleted before my alarm goes off in the morning. If so, that shows just how "democratic" this whole thing really is...

  • #11

    Ben marshall (Saturday, 16 June 2018 09:45)

    Scott, for the record I travelled down from Sheffield (north England) with an overnight stay so spent about £150. I'd never met anyone there before,including Chris. I think that was the same for a number of us.

  • #12

    Jane Hamer (Saturday, 16 June 2018 09:57)

    Hi Scott, I appreciate it might seem easy to set up a meeting as you suggest, but it would have been a lot more complicated than you think.
    I will just clarify something to put your mind at rest. I had never met anyone in the room, with the exception of Chris. Also, I drove a round trip of over 400 miles and had to stay overnight as it was a long trip. I think Ben traveled even further, coming from Sheffield, and I'm sure many of the others too came a far distance. We are a broad representation of writers, filmmakers and producers.
    We all have everyone's best interests at heart and I can assure you every important point that has been raised from all in this community was cared about and discussed and debated.
    I hope you will be excited by the opportunities coming.

  • #13

    Kim L. Wheeler (Saturday, 16 June 2018 10:19)

    Thank you Ben and the team for spending your weekend coming up with a game plan for The Impact. I'm sure that with the folk I can see in the photograph, there will have been many a lively discussion on where to take the project next and a great balance is ideas. Having narrowed down the choice of scripts which could be made in Phase 1, and not (as a direct result) secured enough films to make a quality feature, it makes sense to not now narrow down the field again for future filmmakers, I guess. Any folks still wishing to make one of the 50 winning scripts, a finalist script, any submitted competition script, can still do so. However, having gained new support and interest for the feature film from interested parties, things have moved on and it would be a shame to not now be open to new ideas too. It's such a tough decision to make, that we are never going to end up pleasing everyone or even being able to stick with the original vision for the competition, perhaps. However, we are where we are; so time to move on and get this film back on track. Good luck team. You know where to find me if I can be of service in any small way. :)

  • #14

    Michele Florea (Saturday, 16 June 2018 17:23)

    So, I reacted to a ill-timed blog- your enthusiasm was wonderful, Ben, but the little snippet of info you "leaked" was unfortunate, I reacted before getting all the information, and Chris's lack of response to my suggestion that we could start with just opening all the scripts up to filmmakers without the constraints of filming a winning script first is response enough.
    I'll wait for Chris's announcement before commenting more.

  • #15

    Ben marshall (Saturday, 16 June 2018 20:09)

    Michele, your concerns are natural and understood. I shared them and still did to an extent by lunch. I hope the post did not make it sound exclusive. Truth is, in the afternoon new ideas were raised, greatly fuelled by filmmaker enthusiasm and I kind of forgot my concerns. Replaced with some cool possibilities. I think it is right for Chris and team to get the detail sorted before announcements.

  • #16

    Scott Young (Saturday, 16 June 2018 20:11)

    @Jane "We are a broad representation of writers, filmmakers and producers." I do not mean this in any sort of derogatory way, but your broad representation was all from a British perspective, with British ideas and British ways of doing things. Again, I'm not trying to be insulting. My point is: It's an "international" project, but you held a meeting and made important decisions, but had no involvement whatsoever from anyone outside of the UK. That's why I used the word "elitist." Setting up a video conference to bring in people from other parts of the world would not have been "more complicated than [I] think," Jane. I've set many of them up, and sat in on many more, and they have all been quite effective in that everyone present, in the room and on the screens, actively participated and got things accomplished. There's no point in belaboring this, as the meeting is past and what's done is done. But, while I'm on the subject, and again, I'm not trying to be derogatory in any way, but my same gripe also applies to the current list of judges. Where's the "international" aspect? Seven of them are British, three are American. This means that all of the films will be looked at from a majority British eye. Films made in the US, Australia, and other parts of the world might get passed over because your majority of British judges didn't "get it" or understand something an Australian or American filmmaker did in their films. And Create50 might request that those things be changed, thus stripping away qualities that make their films unique to their cultures. All Create50 is looking at now is, "Can we take it to Cannes and sell it?" And that's largely why my films are no longer part of this project anymore. So, maybe you understand better where I'm coming from, or maybe you're just plain disgusted with me for insulting the Brits. Whichever the case may be, I appreciate the opportunity for my voice to be heard.

  • #17

    Michele Florea (Saturday, 16 June 2018 20:27)

    Ben, I agree, and I am waiting for the announcement with much anticipation. I loved the idea of getting a bunch of us together for a brainstorming session, it shows flexibility and a desire to include and communicate on the part of Chris and team.
    And that in itself is something not found in most projects.
    It just so happened that your blog touched on something I've been advocating for awhile, and it didn't need any more than that to get me reacting!
    Thanks for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it.

  • #18

    Jane Hamer (Saturday, 16 June 2018 20:47)

    @Scott, no insults taken. And yes, the meeting is now in the past and we are moving on.
    The judges are capable of doing their job, and part of the next phase is to encourage more diversity and cultural films, so no, films won't be passed over or adhere to a uk audience.
    Cannes is just a tiny aspect in the scheme of things. It's merely an opportunity to market and highlight the film so that we can all benefit from that.
    As I said previously, there's a lot to look forward to and exciting aspects on the way.

  • #19

    Paddy Eason (Monday, 18 June 2018 13:42)

    Hi All

    Where does this leave those of us rushing to get films finished by the end of this month? Does the deadline still apply?


  • #20

    Enni Red (Monday, 18 June 2018 20:10)

    Hi �, Paddy. As far as I know nothing changes regarding rules and deadlines for those who were a part of Phase One. No changes for us. Phase 2 is just adding smth more to those shorts which are already made to make the whole film better as a feature.

  • #21

    Paul W Franklin (Wednesday, 20 June 2018 13:16)


    I'm rather in 2 minds about the script thing:

    On one hand I agree that it was a competition, 55 'winning' scripts were selected from 2,000, and I'd feel aggrieved as one of those winners if it was opened up to any script.

    But ... I read all 55 of those scripts, and ruled many of them out because they would be too hard to film (due to location, cast, etc), and many because they just didn't grab me; pretty important considerations when you're making a film on a shoestring.
    I hugely believe that the scheme needs new scripts to make it the best it can be.

  • #22

    Richard Flynn (Wednesday, 20 June 2018 14:46)

    I'm looking forward to seeing what's planned for the next phase of The Impact. As a winning writer whose film was produced but has now been pulled from consideration, my hope is I'll have the opportunity to produce my own version in the next phase.

  • #23

    Chris Jones (Wednesday, 20 June 2018 14:54)

    Hi @Richard, to be clear your script will remain produceable for phase 2. We hope to platform it also.

  • #24

    Jane Hamer (Thursday, 21 June 2018 13:42)

    @Paddy, just to confirm, Enni is right, yes the deadline still stands. Thanks

  • #25

    Paddy (Saturday, 23 June 2018 16:08)

    Ok, thanks. I understand the situation as this -

    The produced films that were submitted as rough cuts at the end of May will be ‘judged’ in a revised state as submitted by end of June.

    This cut off will be applied equally to all films.

    If films from this ‘cohort’ are selected to go forward to some kind of final release, then film makers will be contacted in due course to obtain raw media etc to allow a final ‘professional’ post production polish.

    Is this correct?

  • #26

    Jane Hamer (Sunday, 24 June 2018 09:25)

    Hi Paddy, yes, that's correct. There will be an announcement soon about next stage, phase two shortly. Thank you.