Below is my pitch for The Pitch 2020. It’s my second submission after submitting Gaul and Credo the previous year. Entrants must submit a two-minute video pitch for a short film based on a Bible story, theme or book. The winner gets £35,000 to make their film with The Pitch production team. My pitch for 2020, The Witch of Endor Lane, was based on King Saul’s meeting with the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28). I thought if the story was brought into the modern-day, the idea of magic being banned would provide a great opportunity for comedy, but also more serious points could be made as the character of the dishonoured king would allow for a comment on the importance of honesty and integrity in those in positions of power. My pitch made the final 60! If you would like to read the script, especially if you’re interested in filming it, please contact me.
Here is some of the feedback I received from The Pitch judges:
“What a hoot! Tremendous energy. Good message. Too good to miss!!!”
“Quirky storyline and reinterpretation of the story. I liked the storyteller’s use of himself throughout this pitch. Original and compelling.”
“Great to see John trying to create material with a unique voice. Amazingly, this pitch is very consistent in style to his pitch last year – John has a pitch signature style!”
Entrants must also describe the story of the film they want to make, name the Biblical source they’re using and how they’re adapting it to make their story, and let The Pitch know why they should invest in them as a filmmaker (200 words for each). My submitted answers are below.
Please describe the story of the film you want to make.
Magic has been outlawed around the world! Social club psychics, children’s party magicians, carnival fortune-tellers, all rounded up by a crack police squad. Endora, an elderly witch living in an English country cottage, has managed to escape the cull by going undercover, still helping those in need by giving spiritual advice in online chatrooms. It’s by these means she meets Mr. Potus, who claims to be in a life or death situation and persuades Endora to meet in person. When government agents arrive at Endora’s, she fears she’s been discovered, but she’s actually being visited by – the President of the United States of America! The distressed President is on the verge of a great conflict and wants to contact his late great-granddaddy for advice. Endora summons Great-Granddaddy, an ex-army general, who chastises the President for his selfish/lying ways and tells him he’s doomed to lose his battle, leaving him inconsolable. It’s revealed the President’s battle is just a bowling game, and getting a gutterball on his first shot, he’s overcome with stress and falls down dead of a heart attack, framed against a wall of flashing cameras. The action then briefly returns to Endora, watching events unfold on TV.
What Biblical source are you using and how are you adapting it to make this story?
The Biblical source I’m using is the story of King Saul and the Witch of Endor, which I’ve brought into the modern-day and turned into a comedy. I love the idea of magic being banned and think it will produce great comedy in a modern setting, seeing police round up psychics, fortune-tellers, children’s party magicians, etc. I’ve developed the Witch, naming her Endora and making her more lovable and eccentric, in a traditionally British mould. The need for a 21st-century dignitary turns Saul into the American President, who doesn’t visit Endora in disguise but uses more modern means of subterfuge: an alias on an internet chatroom. The spirit of Samuel is replaced with Great-Granddaddy, a comically stereotypical American army general, and the climax no longer takes place on the battlefield but in a more American setting: a ten-pin bowling alley. The contrasting of very American elements with traditionally British ones is one of the more original aspects of my adaptation, as well as a significant source of comedy. However, although I’ve turned the story into a comedy, I’m still respectful and stay true to its message, with the President being punished for the same reasons as Saul.
Why should we invest in you as a filmmaker?
You should invest in me as I have a proven track record of success, writing, producing and directing many short films that have been nominated for and won multiple awards. Many of my films have succeeded in mixing comedy and serious moral messages and incorporating religious themes, just as The Witch of Endor Lane does. That’s What I ‘Eard, a comedy-drama that tackles the serious subject of loneliness in the elderly, was selected for It’s My Shout 2018 and broadcast on the BBC. The Prophet, a comedy that incorporates religious subtext, criticising hypocritical religious figures, won the One Minute Wonder award at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017. My latest film, The Veil, a supernatural horror, was inspired by the Christian message of overcoming hatred and embracing forgiveness. I’ve kept a record of my achievements and experience via my website: johnreeswriter.com. Determined to build on my success, I’m seeking an opportunity to take my career to the next level and believe The Pitch can provide this. I’ve completed the script for The Witch of Endor Lane, am confident of its quality, would be totally committed to the film’s successful completion and believe together with The Pitch, we can produce something magical!