The significance and heartbreak of almost

Tim Love/Hellmanns Recipe shoot.
You celebrate your way. I’ll celebrate mine.

Well, that’s that. The results are in, and it looks like it was mighty close. Practically a photo finish. One that will be debated by scholars far and wide long after the fact.

Actually, I have no idea what the results were.

All I know is that the 2015 Screencraft Action/Thriller contest announced its Grand Prize winner and First Place winner, and my western was neither.

(I almost said it failed to get either, but opted not to. More on that in a sec.)

It did, however, place among the top ten finalists, so I guess that’s something.

An honor to be part of this elite group? Most definitely. All ten finalist scripts are being distributed to Screencraft’s network of industry contacts, so all I can do now is hope for the best (while working on new scripts, of course).

That being said, how can I not feel pangs of frustration from not achieving either of the top two? Could the script have been better? Probably. Is it solid enough now? I like to think so. For all I know, it came in third.

I totally get how this is part of the process and should be thrilled the script made it this far. Believe me, I am. Very much so. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I, along with every other writer who entered the contest, wasn’t entertaining daydreamy thoughts of being proclaimed the winner. But that’s not how it worked out.

Honestly, it hurts. Or maybe stings is more fitting. Either way, it feels like “I tried my best, but it still wasn’t good enough.” This sensation will linger for about a day, eventually fading but not totally disappearing. By that time I’ll have dusted myself off, ready to jump back into my normal routine of full speed ahead. I’ve got a few irons in several fires, plus a few projects I prefer to keep on the QT. For now, at least.

I mentioned being tempted to say the script failed to win. True, it didn’t win, but maybe “fail” is too harsh a word. The script did exceptionally well, which I suppose is a reflection of my writing ability and how it’s developing. This is the third consecutive year I’ve had a script place in some manner in a contest, so I must be doing something right.

So for now I’ll keep in mind that sage piece of wisdom uttered after all competitions:

Just wait ’til next year.

6 thoughts on “The significance and heartbreak of almost

  1. Congrats to you Paul on getting as far as you did. It IS a major accomplishment to make the top 10 in a respected contest like Screencraft. If you looked hard enough, you could probably find some incredibly weak contest in a back-alley film festival where you could win the top prize. For a few seconds, you could bask in the glory of having won a contest.

    Then you’d come back to earth, look yourself in the mirror and know what you really had.

    You did well. Enjoy the moment.

  2. Oh, Paul!
    How absolutely delectable that pie of yours look (and taste) –
    Oh, God! Just one slice – please…
    Paul, now.
    About that script of yours.
    Among the “the top ten finalist”…
    But it “hurts” – is still hurting…
    Paul. go bake me a pie please.
    My advice?
    Relax, bake a pie and–
    STOP trying so HARD (doing this “hurting” thing to yourself.)
    Don’t you know the age old wisdom of all ages/sages?
    It’s not about who you are, but–
    Select – discreetly- and connect with powerful individuals in the industry.
    Nature this relationship( bake a pie) and let them do it for you!
    Simple really.
    TRYING SO effing HARD!
    Can I have a slice (or two), please?

    • Oops!
      Please, forgive me.
      I meant to say:
      “Nurture the relationship” (instead of “nature” – although
      Mother Nature does play an important role in this “trust-the-flow-of things-and-let-go-business”
      Right now, t’s dark and late here in Europe, easy for those little grammar gremlins to crawl out of the wood works!) )-:
      As consolation: a warm apple pie with loads of cream!!

  3. Ok, I wrote a lovely note about focus on the positive not in the negative, but then my password had to be reset and now I’m annoyed. Top 10 finalist is freaking great!! You are smart, clever and determined. Well done!

  4. As someone who has placed highly in many contests, even won a few awards – the real benefit of your placing in the top 10% is unbiased confirmation that you’re on the good path.

    I have a script going into production in about a month. Here’s a funny story about how it got there.

    I wrote “Walking Wounded” in less than two weeks. Entered it into Worldfest Houston (where it won a Silver Remi) and made the second round at Austin Film Festival.

    While at the AFF – I met and chatted up some young producers, who asked to read Walking Wounded. They optioned it with an eye to producing it within a year. (Not my first option on a script by the way).

    Fast forward a year. After several re-writes, the option expired and the script was back on the market. On a lark I RE-entered what I considered the “Best” version of the rewrite into the Austin Festival again. I was hoping it might make it to semi-finalist or better.

    It didn’t make the cut.

    At all.

    In fact, the feedback basically said, “You need to take courses in screenwriting – this sucks from page one.”

    But here’s the kicker.

    A month before it ‘failed’ at Austin, I got a call from a producer in LA who had read it on a script service. He LOVED it. And wanted to option it.

    So yes – readers are subjective. It might be a bad day for one of them. They might be forced to read a script in a genre they are not well versed in, or even dislike.

    If you’re doing well with your scripts in contests – top ten percent or better – then look at it as confirmation to keep slugging away.

    It’s a marathon not a sprint.

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