Here’s a question you don’t hear every day: What do a giant asteroid, Stephen King and Sheffield have in common? The Create50 initiative, that’s what. Brainchild of The Guerilla Filmmaker’s Handbook author, Chris Jones, Create50 is a community-driven creative venture like no other, platforming and promoting the work of emerging screenwriters, filmmakers, short story writers […]

Here’s a question you don’t hear every day: What do a giant asteroid, Stephen King and Sheffield have in common? The Create50 initiative, that’s what.

Brainchild of The Guerilla Filmmaker’s Handbook author, Chris Jones, Create50 is a community-driven creative venture like no other, platforming and promoting the work of emerging screenwriters, filmmakers, short story writers and allied artists. And two Sheffield writers are at its forefront.

One arm of the enterprise deals with films. Crowd-written, crowd-produced and crowd-funded, Create50’s second movie, The Impact, about a giant asteroid, is currently in production. Like its predecessor, Fifty Kisses, the final film will be composed of 50 short films from 50 two-minute micro-scripts. One of these scripts was written by the great Joe Eszterhas (Jagged Edge, Basic Instinct). The other 49 were written by ‘Joe Public’, including Sheffield writer Phil Charles, whose script, More, won Best Script at the British Screenwriting Awards in September.

The other arm of Create50 deals with books – not just the writing of them, but also publication, marketing and distribution. With its first horror anthology, Twisted50, already a hit on Amazon and recently out in paperback, the project is moving forward with its second horror publication, Twisted50 #2, followed by a science-fiction anthology, The Singularity.

Again sticking to the film formula, the books are comprised of 50 short stories, and although there isn’t as yet a famous name among them, I’m proud to say that my name is. What’s more, I too won an award, albeit as runner-up in the Best Story category, which I also collected at the prestigious British Screenwriting Awards night. It might seem slightly odd to receive an award for a short story at a screenwriters’ event, but that’s precisely the spirit of Create50 – plenty of crossover (there have been murmurings of adapting the Twisted stories into a film) and, more importantly, everybody is welcome.

This, for me, is the real value of Create50 – its inclusivity and championing of the lesser-heard voice. As any emerging writer knows, the sting of an agent or production company’s rejection can be spirit-crushing. Both the film and publishing industries are notoriously competitive. They tend to stick to known formulas and themes, or to writers with proven track records. This makes it very hard for a new writer to break through, especially if your chosen genre is horror or science-fiction, two areas traditionally seen as not literary or high-brow enough for many publishers.

Create50 is a real alternative to all that. It promotes the careers of people who write, no matter who they are or what their background. People join it and submit work thinking they are entering a competition, but they remain and get more deeply involved, because what it actually offers is a communal, non-hierarchical writing school, agency-represented publishing and global access to industry professionals – all for the princely sum of £5. Even if your story doesn’t make the final cut, you still get more than your money’s worth in peer reviews and support.

The initiative also offers writers an opportunity to thrive and succeed with an independent, unconventional voice that doesn’t need to conform to standard publishers’ tastes or market trends.

Is it a coincidence that two of the award-winning writers are from Sheffield?

Sheffield is a creative powerhouse, a haven for artists and writers alike, rich in studio spaces, writing groups, festivals, open mic nights, theatre groups, filmmakers’ networks, production companies, art schools and shed-loads of inspiration in them there hills.

So, no, it’s not a coincidence.

And the Stephen King connection? Twisted50 knocked his horror anthology off the number 1 spot on the Amazon Bestsellers list. Not bad for a fiver.

For anyone interested in having a look at any of the above projects in more detail, visit create50.com

Sue Bodnar