I made it through to the final round of the NYC Midnight Screenplay Competition. ?
Like before, I wasn’t expecting it. Not because I didn’t think my entry was good enough, but because I’d read some of the other scripts submitted in my heat, including the entry that (deservedly) came first so I knew I was up against some tough competition. In the end, my screenplay was decent enough to come fifth in my heat, meaning I scraped my way through to the final round. My Mystery was a lot stronger than my Romantic Comedy, and the mostly positive feedback provided from the judges confirmed it.
Despite thinking I would be hugely stressed, I felt strangely calm. I was so happy just to have made it this far that I wasn’t feeling the same level of pressure I did in earlier rounds. The idea of writing a five page script in twenty-four hours seemed less daunting and far more doable than I thought it would, mainly because I knew there was no time to procrastinate.
Having written two short screenplay’s now means I’ve become more adept with the Scrivener screenplay shortcuts. They help cut down writing time and some of the angst about getting the formatting right. Plus, I could use my first round screenplay to set up my own template specifically for the competition.
The prompts for the final round were open genre, marine biologist, hallucination.
You would think the above would mean I’d write a sci-fi, since that’s my favourite genre to write, but none of the ideas that came to me were in my genre of choice. I mainly had ideas for a drama or comedy. Writing a comedy would have stressed me out, and my ideas for the dramas were vague, so I decided to start with the the marine biologist character and go from there. If there’s one thing this competition has really taught me, it’s that I am not a planner, despite my best efforts at being one. No matter what I plan, my brain never wants to follow it. The characters always take over and tell me their story which I simply copy down (and yes I know that makes me sound partially crazy). BUT, it works for me and I think it’s far more interesting to discover the story with the characters. Once the story is out, then I can rearrange it and edit to make sure it flows better and has some kind of structure.
When you submit into the Open genre category, they ask you to name which category you wrote in. After starting mine, working out who the characters were and the situation they were in, the genre ended up coming pretty easily. I wrote another mystery. Getting one out in five pages was difficult, as originally there were seven! I had to cut an entire scene, which I loved, but really didn’t move the story forward, and trimmed words to make every sentence count.
I’m still learning what it takes to write a good script, but I have a better idea now than I did a few months ago. I’m looking forward to getting the final round results and the remarks from the judges, regardless of where I finish. Making the top fifty is an accomplishment in itself and I’ve taken away a lot of good from this competition. Next year, I’m sure I can do even better. 🙂