The members of my writers group like to joke that I’m always hustling. They mean it in the way that I’m always looking for ways to move forward, and while that’s true, I always consider it just plain hard work combined with taking advantage of every opportunity. One recent example was the feature screenplay I just completed.
In a previous post I wrote about the Greenlights Challenge. Here is the story behind my taking part, which involves a fair amount of hustle–risk, hard work, and taking advantage of every opportunity.
A large company that provides opportunities for screenwriters partnered with a management company and production company for a screenwriting challenge: Write a low budget feature film that is limited to five characters and five locations. The upshot is that there was not just a cash prize but an intent to produce the film into an actual movie.
Now two things about this really resonated with me: One was that I just like challenging myself, and someone putting limits on what I can write makes me want to do it just to show that I can. The other is that the initial judging was based on the first ten pages of the screenplay.
I happened to have an 8 page short film that has been very well-received and was also very contained in terms of location and characters. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to turn into an entry for this challenge. So I structured the pages with an additional scene, and at ten pages I submitted it to the challenge.
There was only one problem: If they chose your screenplay as a top fifty semifinalist, you then had to send in a full screenplay for them to judge to find the winner. I obviously didn’t have a full screenplay. I submitted to the contest with only ten pages. To make matters worse, the announcements were a two months away, and I was already busy finishing a novel.
Sometimes you need to have confidence in yourself and take risks, and that’s what I did here. I sent in the ten pages knowing that I’d have to write 80 more in about six weeks. Thankfully, I both finished the novel and was able to finish the screenplay before the deadline.
I wasn’t selected as a semi-finalist for the contest, but that really doesn’t matter too much. I really like this screenplay, and now I can take it to other producers and companies. Which brings me back to my writers group and my reputation for always hustling. I submitted to a contest with a tight deadline with an unwritten screenplay. Is that hustle? Foolishness? Hard work? Taking advantage of opportunities?
I’m not really sure how to describe it, but it sure was a fun and thrilling experience.