When I recently wrote “I’ve entered into a little script writing competition“, what I specifically meant was the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge 2020. This is not a screenwriting competition as most of my friends and associates would understand; there is no pre-written spec that will be flung at judges in the hope that a finely-wrought piece of work gains a little traction. I am not hoping to sup from the heady draught of professional attention.
Instead this is a short film writing challenge: In every round every contestant will be placed into groups. Each group will be given its own unique genre, location, and object assignments, and each writer then has 48 hours to write a self-contained five page short screenplay. The top five scoring writers from every round progress to the next round until in January the victors are crowned. With cash.
When screenwriters talk about the great and important competitions, they talk about Nicholl, AFF, or Final Draft Big Break. In the UK, there’s the BBC’s Script Room, the Red Planet Prize, or the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition. Nobody, but nobody, talks about NYC Midnight.
However, back in my days as a fledgling screenwriter, it was taking part in this competition and placing highly in it that gave me the confidence to pursue screenwriting with some dedication. That, if I dreamed a little bigger, I could be more than a hobbyist screenwriter, a dilettante no more. It’s that feeling that I’m hope to re-capture.
Now, there is a risk here, that I fail to proceed in any meaningful way; that I’ve just become too rusty, too hesitant, that I’ve lost the honed edge and furious hunger that propelled me forward in those more innocent days. There is a risk that instead of regaining my confidence, I instead dent it irrecoverably.
But if that happens, I have more irons in the fire, more strings to my bow, more metaphors in my repertoire. And sometimes it’s the trying that’s important, not the succeeding.
At least not at first…