Thursday, May 03, 2007

Maybe if I write about screenwriting, I'll become a screenwriter.

This week I mailed off a script to the Nicholl Fellowship competition, run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The guys who do the Oscars. This contest is *the* contest for amateur screenwriters. The $30,000 prize is nothing to sneeze at, but I think the thing that everyone really covets is the week-long trip to Hollywood where they introduce you to a lot of important people and let you go to lots of fancy dinners with your fellow star-struck and still dirt poor screenwriting winners.

Unfortunately, getting my script out in the mail was kind of a big hassle. I've decided I don't function well unless there's an abnormal amount of stress in my life. The night before I needed to mail out the screenplay I decided that Celtx formatting wasn't going to cut it for the Nicholl competition. Mind you, these people have accepted *handwritten* submissions before, and Celtx is only off by about half an inch with its dialogue margins and its type is a little too large, but I become a perfectionist in the worst of times. So that night I spent four hours reformatting into Word - and I didn't even finish. Transferring my script into Word also showed just how many typos my screenplay suffered from, though, so it wasn't a complete loss.

The next was May 1, the day it had to be post marked. I thought I would have enough time to perfect it and print it out to send it from our local post office by 5:00 pm. Imagine me, 3:30 on the bus back from New York City, stuck in traffic and frantically working on my laptop deleting superfluous returns, praying that my battery didn't die. Luckily, my aunt had tipped me off to a 24-hour post office back in New York in case I didn't make it in time for the Jersey post office. So when I had finally printed off my 78-page screenplay and squeezed it into the envelope at 7:30, it was back to the bus stop to go back into New York. A bus came pretty quickly, though I was almost denied entry because I had an open soda (I managed to hand it off to some nice man exiting the bus. Who says Jersey people aren't sweet?) but can you imagine letting something like that stop me? I wish it had, in retrospect, as I apparently boarded the local bus and was treated to an hour long scenic route into New York. On the plus side, now I know all the romantic spots to take my dates to impress them with the beauty of the New York skyline.

The 24-hour post office is only about ten blocks from the Port Authority. I must not walk downtown a lot at night (does 9:00 really count as night in the city that never sleeps?), but though I don't consider myself a girl who is easily unnerved, I'm not sure what I would have done if I had needed to take a side street off 8th Avenue. Creepy. Apparently, lots of people need the 24-hour service, because when I got there, the line almost stretched half the length of the building. I was in line for 45 minutes. On the plus side, I managed to engage the people around me in conversation. The guy behind me was about to graduate in film from the only other college I applied to along with Michigan. Crazy, I don't know big Hunter is or if we would have run into each other, but we could have been friends instead of random strangers in line at the post office.

Eventually, I managed to mail off my script. I think, though, that I could have just used the self service machines in the lobby to get the May 1st postmark. It's ok. I'd rather have my peace of mind.

My chances in this competition are slim. Around 5,000 people competed last year for 5 fellowships. But I still feel that even entering the competition was a big step. And it helped me finish The 4:05. I can completely put it aside now and start work on something new. I have a couple of features I'm tinkering with, but I'm most looking forward to June's Script Frenzy by the same people who do National Novel Writing Month. That's the month I leave for my summer job, though, so I'll only have 20 days to write a script instead of 30.

Like I said, I think stress is just a necessary part of my life...

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