Obviously I wanted to win. It would have been terrific if I had. But I didn’t win my first competition. Should I just go to a bar and drown my sorrows? I think not. Here’s why:
I entered Script Pipeline’s Great Movie Idea contest this July and I didn’t win. I felt a little upset, but just a little. 5 minutes later I bounced back, having come up with this article idea, as well as having noted down the next competition deadline.
Let’s face it, there’s not much to feel sad about. While the chances of winning a screenplay (idea contest) is probably higher than winning the lottery, it is still not a very easy thing to do. Even after having come up with the best idea you could and having written the best treatment you could, as well as having followed the guidelines, you are at the mercy of the taste of the judges. And while there are some story elements and storytelling ways writers/editors agree on, there is still that bit that leaves it to luck: the taste of the judges.
I am not saying my idea would definitely result in a blockbuster, but directed in a certain way and marketed the right way, it wasn’t without potential. But I know that there were probably ideas that were more appealing, marketable or simply mind-blowing. I also know that having submitted an idea that was in the romantic comedy genre (although it was/is different from the typical ones.) might not have been that impressive.
Even I, writer and fan of romantic dramas/comedies, happen to prefer compelling thrillers, good action with great humor – and wish I could have come up with legal thrillers in John Grisham style, or sci-fi action pieces like Equilibrium, The Island or Gattaca. I l also would have loved to come up with something like The Man from the Earth (a sci-fi/drama genius with the lowest budget, really good acting and awesome idea), Law Abiding Citizen (an edgy action/thriller) or obviously, Braveheart (the wonderful epic combination of history and fiction, drama and romance, action –with the touch of great one-liners and the rare but effective comic relief.) You get the idea.
And while I was content with my treatment, it was my first (that was submitted) and no doubt could be massively improved.
I still love my idea. I will be pursuing agents and contest, while getting better at explaining my ideas, finding loglines and writing treatments.
So I still have a long way to go. But I also need to find an agent/company/director/judges…etc. that have similar tastes to mine. To give examples from successful novelists, Grisham was rejected. So was J.K.Rowling. The list goes on forever, although those two are my favorite examples. To give examples from screenwriters, Allan Loeb (Just Go With It, Wall Street Money Never Sleeps…) got rejected for about 3 years. Maybe not all of his stories ended up as movie wonders, I was entertained by many of them. And did I mention he has been constantly selling since 2007?
So I didn’t win. It is not the end of the world. In fact, it is the start of a brand new one. So many things to work on, so much research to do, so little time. And I will be writing. And improving. And submitting…