The NYC Short Screenplay Challenge

late last year i signed up to participate in a short screenplay challenge hosted by NYC Midnight.

the challenge consists of 4 rounds, the final two of which you have to qualify for based on the amount of points you earn. the rules were simple: participants were placed in groups which would be given random parameters - a genre, a primary location, and an object that physically appears in the story - that needed to be followed. screenplays could not exceed 5 pages in length (not including the title page) and had to be written and submitted within 48 hours of the round parameters being released. let the games begin.

for this challenge, i was placed in a group with 27 other writers who i was then scored against. i participated in the first two rounds and did not qualify for the third, but finished in 7th place in my group. i am extremely grateful of the experience i gained through this challenge and am happy to have participated. both of my screenplays were written in 24 hours rather than 48 due to scheduling complications.

below are more detailed breakdowns of rounds 1 and 2.

ROUND ONE: a comedy / a house for sale / a swan

comedy is hard and it’s definitely not my forte. i had two main ideas for this script:

idea 1: an amateur realtor holds her first open house and it seems to be a bust until an eccentric middle-aged couple shows up. oh yeah, they also have a swan for a child.

idea 2: an eccentric, homeless, middle-aged couple and their family of swans are squatting in a house when a realtor shows up for an open house. now they have to go room to room hiding their flock and evading the realtor and potential homebuyers until they can make a clean escape.

i decided to write to the first idea because with my time limit, it seemed like an easier plot to write to and something that i could do in 5 pages or less. the second idea is something that i will most likely come back to and develop in the future.

read it here: Open House

for this round i placed 12th and earned 3 points.

ROUND 2: a thriller / a beach cottage / a banana

turns out that i love writing thrillers. probably because thriller falls within my top three favorite genres.

i only had one idea for this round which took elements and inspiration from Inception, Black Mirror’s White Bear, and Black Mirror’s White Christmas. this one’s a little hard to explain and i personally think it’s easier to read it.

i’m really proud of this story and will definitely be returning to it with revisions. i’m not quite sure if i want to expand it as i think it serves well as a short.

read it here: Playback

for this round i placed 1st and earned 15 points.

after each round we receive some feedback from the judges and in this round i received invaluable feedback from one particular judge. they stated, “if i were an exec, i’d read anything you had.” let me just say it here: it is hard to be a creative. every day i wonder if i’ve made the right decisions and if it’s truly possible to make a career out of something you love. i put myself down and compare myself to professionals who *surprise* have been doing this for far longer than i have. you can think things all the time, but this judge took the time to specifically tell me this and the inspiration and encouragement it has fostered is something i was in desperate need of.