When a hopeless romantic student meets his holiday romance in Hong Kong by accident, he takes her out to similar spots like 10 years ago, hoping to spark her interest again before he leaves in 12 hours. (short film)
At 37 words, this version is unnecesarily long. Boiled down to its dramatic essence, the plot is:
When a hopeless romantic accidentally reunites with an old fling, he has 12 hours to reignite the spark before his plane leaves. (22 words)
Authentic ticking clocks infuse tension into a story by imposing do-or-die, now-or-never deadlines. But I don’t see how the plane flight fits that criterion. Because:
1] He can always cancel the flight if he needs more time. Of course that will cost him the ticket price, but in matters of the heart, no price is too high to pay. On the contrary, canceling the fight is a dramatic demonstration of his defining characteristic, that he’s a hopeless romantic. And it’s proof of how much he loves her.
2] If he must make the flight, they can always exchange email addresses and phone numbers. Thanks to smart phones, they can keep the dialogue going.
An authentic ticking clock scenario is a standard and reliable ingredient for spicing up a story with dramatic tension. But, imho, the plane flight in this scenario fails to qualify. Hence the plot seems rather bland, flat.
Your concept brings to mind the 1995 film “Before Sunrise” about two people who casually meet on the train and decide to spend the night in Vienna before making their connections. The train connection is not a do-or-die ticking clock. Both of them could cancel their connections or one could re-book and follow the other. But neither one does. They part ways at sunrise.
The movie was a critical and commercial success, spawned 2 sequels. So why can’t you sell your romance with a similar, semi-ticking clock ending? Why can’t lightening strike again with your concept?
Here’s what I see as the complication:
“Before Sunrise” was not the writer’s (Richard Linklater) debut film, the script that enabled him to break into the business. It was his third. By then, he had an agent. He had industry contacts. And he had a hit film that enabled him to get the green light make “Before Sunrise”.
Could Linklater have sold “Before Sunrise” as a complete outsider, an aspiring screenwriter with no agent, no industry contacts, no established track record? Well, who knows? It’s a crazy business. But I can guarantee it would have been harder, the odds would have been overwhelming not in his favor.
My feedback is given under the assumption that outsiders have more daunting obstacles to overcome, have to play by a different set of rules than insiders who, by chance and chutzpah, have smashed their way past the gate keepers.
But you’re only trying to make a short film, not a full length feature. Even so, your story has to be bait for talent and money (unless you can cast, produce and finance it on your own). And audience bait: you do want people to view it, don’t you? The right people, industry insiders, who can escort you past the gatekeepers into the inner sanctum of the business?
Great job with the inciting event. I think it’s a cute story with potential. Only thing I saw is that the irony is not clear. It’s not strong enough to guarantee funding. Try adding stakes. Make the event risky. Maybe he’s got a terminal disease. Maybe she’s a monster from space. He must find a way to escape before she eats him. Something that will make us want to sit down and watch it. Right now it’s just some dude trying to get inside some girl’s panties. It’s what dudes do. I’m not sure I want to sit down and watch that. We just need something interesting to latch onto now.
It’s a good first draft. Remove words and trim it down to the bare minimum: “A hopeless romantic runs into his childhood crush in Hong Kong…”
The obstacle is not clear. If he truly loves her, he’ll bite the bullet and cancel the plane ticket to stay with her.
Why not give him a moral dilemma? What if? He is engaged and his fiance is waiting for him to return from a business trip in time for their wedding. But he falls in love with his high school sweetheart in Hong Kong and must find out if she feels the same before canceling the ticket and sticking around or flying back to a woman he feels obliged to marry.