With so many contest deadlines looming, here’s a tale of encouragement in the form of an interview with Nick Schober, winner of the 2014 Table Read My Screenplay competition.
I met Nick through Twitter (@nicschober). He’s a great guy.
1. How did you get your start as a writer?
I guess I’ve always been writing, just for different reasons. In college I knew I wanted to work in the industry, but I was sure I wanted to be a director of photography… and then an editor.. then a director, and so on, and the only way to constantly hone those crafts was to write material. After I took a serious run at producing a few years ago, I realized writing was my favorite part of the process and I’ve been at it ever since.
2. What’s your script about, and how did you come up with the story?
GIVEN is a story about a wealthy widow who offers her vast fortune to a local slacker in exchange for one small favor… that he kill her. The concept originated as a “first 15” contest put on by The Writer’s Store. They provide a logline and everyone submits 15 pages based on that. I think the original logline was something about a New England matriarch offering her fortune to anyone who would grant her dying wish. I thought the twist of her asking someone to kill her would grab attention.
3. What was it about Table Read My Screenplay that made you want to enter?
I think I saw the emails about this contest shortly after I found out I did not win The Writer’s Store contest. I figured this was good a time as any to jump back on the horse. Besides that, the opportunity to go to Sundance and have your screenplay read by actors is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Also, as with any good contest, they blast your script out to their network of producers and agents, which is the name of the game.
4. What was your reaction to winning?
I tried to play it cool when I got the call from the organizers but I promptly called my wife and yelled at the top of my lungs. It was pretty awkward considering I was still at work. You can’t help but wonder if you really have what it takes to do this, and things like this are a great signpost to look back on when you need encouragement.
5. As the contest’s name says, there was a table read of your script at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. How did that go?
It was amazing. They had a conference room at the Waldorf in Park City and cast some excellent actors who really went for it, even though it was just a table read. Harvey Weinstein was having breakfast right outside the door. They also recorded the audio and sent it to me to for review. It was invaluable to hear your words spoken. You can truly understand the importance of timing, what works and what doesn’t.
6. What was your overall experience being at Sundance?
It was a blast. The organizers put us up in an amazing house walking distance from downtown. They set us up with a few movie screenings and also got us into a few parties. It was an intense exercise in networking, especially for a serial introvert, but I made a couple of good contacts.
7. What’s been happening for you and your script since then?
Since then, I’ve jumped headfirst into trying to get this sold. I’ve uploaded my script to The Blacklist, submitted to all the major contests, and recently started querying. I’m also developing a few other ideas and trying to write every day.
A hearty congrats to Nick!
There are lots of ways to establish a career as a screenwriter. Winning or placing in a contest is just one of them. So keep on rewriting and polishing that latest draft, send it out there and see how it goes.
And in case you don’t make it past the first round (which does happen), more contests now offer notes and feedback, so you can make a few more fixes to make your script that much better.