Living in Austin Texas and being employed in its supportive film community, today I received an email from the Austin Film Festival announcing the deadlines for their respected screenplay competition. I knew it was coming up but now I know for sure the drop deadline is June 1st. Being a finalist or winner, will garner you festival badges (upwards of $500), a $5,000 cash prize and as I mentioned terrific exposure. I’ve entered one other time with a script that admittedly wasn’t ready (I did many GOOD revisions on it after the fact). But since I’m writing what I deem to be my best work, this one will be — period, exclamation point!
Granted I’m a creative-type that works best under pressure with clear boundaries, otherwise we just run amok and work our crafts to death. I think it’s one of the hardest lessons for a creator to learn, ‘when to stop dabbling’ and let it go. And as far as just waiting until a more convenient deadline comes along, well the fact is there are countless screenplay competitions, and while I know writers need to get validation and exposure any way they can, very few competitions are looked at with respect in the industry and therefore, you’re better off spending your entry fees on honest coverage that will ultimately help your story rise to the top — the best ones always do. Austin, is highly regarded and I live here, enough said.
Okay, so what do I have to do in how much time? Oy those scene cards, Dear Blake is having a chuckle right now (see previous post). But the reality of it is I know once I have those 40 cards nailed to the board, the best screenplay will fly from my fingertips — for the most part. Plus as I’ve been writing the cards, SAVE THE CAT has a feature where you can actually write the scene and when the board is done you can export it into Final Draft. Yippee!
So being in production, I know the best way to define the timeline of milestones is to start at the end (in this case June 1st). I’m going to want coverage before being content with my submission draft so I need to allow a few weeks for that and the subsequent implementation of notes. That puts my drop dead for a coverage ready draft somewhere at the 1st week of May.
Here’s what I need to do:
1) nail those cards to the board by the first of March (roughly in a week)
2) write 10-12 pages a week between March 1st and May 1st
3) revise during first week of May
4) send out for coverage second week of May
5) spend Memorial Day weekend fine tuning my best screenplay