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Parasite and High Concepts

Part of Parasite's strength is its concept. It's a very easy and understandable concept to regurgitate.

In that sense it has kind of the dream high concept pitch. Parasite's success shows the value of a high concept, as a film in Korean with no recognisable stars has had a huge international reach and won Best Picture. Yes, Bong is a well established director. But most audiences won't be flocking because of him, they'll be flocking because of the movie's alluring concept (and now because of the Oscars).

We recently published an article on high concepts. It's an endlessly fascinating theory to get your head around as a screenwriter. How do you come up with a story that can be boiled down into a captivating concept? We try and do some investigating to get you at least some of the way there!

  • Parasite may be high concept as a pitch but the actual story is a wild mix of genres in the hands of a storyteller who wrangles tonal shifts with a genius touch - this is actually Bong Joon Ho's unique gift. And, it's what creates the unpredictability in his story-telling that is wowing audiences world-wide.

    Industry media have also pointed out that the US distribution outfit took great care in marketing and releasing the film.

    Undoubtedly, it's a great film with a great hook but I would credit the success of the film to the writer-director's unique vision, the universal relevance of the film's subject matter and a great marketing campaign.

    Ultimately, Parasite is the work of a proven talent who is afforded a lot of creative freedom. I pity any upcoming writer who submits such a highly original script to industry gatekeepers. Parasite is not an example of how the film industry operates anywhere in the world, it's the exact opposite, it's a work of genius, an anomaly.

    7 months ago
  • Critiquing movies and indeed anything at all is always a subjective thing influenced by one's own cultural and experiential conditioning.

    Here's my not at all humble take on it.

    We're going to see more of these "anomalies". There's an existential cultural, sociopolitical and socioeconomic evolution going on. Perhaps even to the dramatic degree of an existential Armageddon. The inertia of gargantuanism that has long characterised and monopolised, and still does to an ever decreasing degree, the marketing, funding and distribution of film and other medias, is being challenged on all fronts. The smarter establishment entities can see the trend and seek to evolve with it; others will soldier on until they fade away, in the not entirely unreasonable belief that their current gargantuanism will see them, and their audiences, out. The old parochialisms are being displaced by new ones, but full sentient consciousness is still over the horizon.

    There's an old adage suggesting that there's only seven stories but with infinite variations of theme. The trouble is that those variations are getting too samey.

    Many of us are left unmoved, even if not wholly disappointed, by the old guards limpet like attachment to inauthentic stories that are only saved by expensive and/brilliant production tricks and good, or otherwise compelling, actors; when in reality it's often just the
    highly accomplished polishing of the trite and banal with ever decreasing variations in theme.

    There's a growing gap in the market for creative realism and authenticity; whether fiction, factual or hybrid, genres that the 'Old World' has always been particularly good at, and with relatively meagre resources too. The UK industry ought to be well placed if the oligarchal like grip on it can be prised off.

    Ironically Parasite is not the sort of parasite that jumps on the old movie business bandwagons.

    It is of course entirely possible that my opinion is just an erroneous presumption of my cultural conditioning. There lies the rub !

    7 months ago
  • I don't think it's high concept, in fact if you read the IMDB logline it's not exactly clear what the idea is.

    I think this was just a rather cynical way of driving traffic to their site...

    7 months ago