Out of 2,600 international writers I placed 11th with an Honourable Mention in the NYC Midnight Screenplay Competition 2020.
I am absolutely thrilled about this, but don’t know what to say. Only 15 writers place; the Top 10 and then 5 Honourable Mentions. I am currently working on turning one of my story submissions from last year into an animated short film, ‘Light Heart’, and will be working on turning ‘Sparks Flying’ into either an animated short or a children’s story; I think it will be lovely as either.
I will share the judges feedback on my final screenplay submission, for people who are curious what the competition feedback is like.
R3: Sparks Flying
Open Genre (Fantasy)/A disappearance/A trainer (5 pgs., 24 hrs.)
A witch trains her young apprentice to catch and deliver sparks of
creativity. When sparks start disappearing, will the witches be
able to dispel troublesome figments of imagination?
WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY
“This piece was incredibly charming, utilising rich, vivid descriptions to convey both character and atmosphere. The fantastical nature of the piece was very engaging.”
“This is a delightfully fun and novel concept. You’ve wielded the contest criteria to great effect, and the fantastical elements here all work in concert to weave a cohesive narrative. The “meta” element of the writer struggling over the screenwriting competition is a nice touch. I love the concept of the figments, and of the writers blocks being particularly strong varieties of figments. The imagery associated with these is great as well. All in all a fun, heartwarming and well-rendered little story. Well done!”
“Good story concept and great relationship between the main characters. Nice break of the 4th wall with the mention of the screenwriting challenge. Like how the writer gets his inspiration.”
“I love the premise of this story, that inspiration comes from a magical being who collects and delivers sparks to writers and other creative people. Gelatinous cubes as writer’s block is great. I love the flying owl – Tabitha is like a Santa who flies through the sky and delivers gifts of creative inspiration. Figments make wonderful antagonists and they defeat the figments by reminding them they are not real. This is a very sweet and clever story about where creativity comes from.”
“This is a whimsical and charming approach to the challenge. Tabitha and Stella are fun to follow, and their journey makes for a compelling adventure. The imagery here is just lovely. Moreover, the script has all the beats of a narrative arc, and hints at some rich thematic depth. Nice job.”
WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK
“One element that could be further developed is the tension as Stella and Tabitha attempt to infuse the writer’s tea with sparks. It might be interesting, in future drafts, to explore how the writer’s presence impacts the urgency. Are they growing anxious themselves? Do they impede Tabitha and Stella’s work?”
“I found myself concerned that the writer was going to see or hear Stella and Tabitha at their work as they manipulated his teacup. I imagined a fun, stealthy bit of manoeuvring, but the text didn’t reflect that, and when they’re speaking and especially when Stella strikes down into the teacup (“Inspiration strikes!”), I found it odd that the writer was unfazed. If the teacup is as a bathtub to Stella and Tabitha, they’d still be large enough to be a very noticeable presence, especially with the noise. Consider having the writer wearing headphones or being otherwise distracted so that the ladies’ presence and manipulation would more easily go unnoticed.”
“Want to feel a big responsibility these witches have to the world. Feel the stakes are higher. A few more obstacles to achieve their goal.”
“The last line feels repetitive. The preceding dialog covers the number of people still needing sparks. Perhaps end on the action of the owl vanishing against the glimmering stars.”
“There are a few stylistic issues here that hinder the reader — the biggest being that it’s not made clear until the middle of the script that Stella and Tabitha are apparently tiny. A child as young as Stella is also difficult, as children (even witches) are unpredictable and it’s hard for the reader to imagine and engage with the logic of a character that young. A final problem is the inclusion of this very screenplay challenge — it’s cute, but it prevents the script from standing on its own (I’d suggest making the “inspiration” a bit more general and available to all struggling artists). I’d also like to see more dimensionality from Tabitha to give the story some stakes — What will happen if she fails? Is this a special night or a special assignment? Creating some personal investment in the mission’s success would help keep the story engaging.”
As always, mahalo for reading!