Way, way back in the olden days of May or June a few of my Twitter buddies started twittering about the Red Planet Prize, a free screenwriting competition run by Red Planet Pictures, the production company run by Tony Jordan behind dramas like CRASH, HUSTLE and ECHO BEACH/MOVING WALLPAPER.
The competition required writers to send in the first 10 pages of a 60 page TV show, either a stand-alone hour or part of (or pilot for) a longer series.
I’ve had an idea buzzing about in my head for quite a while for a TV series I want to write, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. My early drafts were shabby to say the least, but as the first-round submission deadline loomed I had ten credible pages that I felt I could send off.
The biggest issue was the recommendations of most professional writers when talking about the prize – make sure you’ve got all 60 pages before you submit, so you can send the script across as soon as you get the call. That is, if you’re successful enough to still be in the running once the 1500 submissions are whittled down to those few whose full script will be read.
I asked a friend and script editor, Lucy Vee, what I should do. Her advice? Go for it anyway; it’s free, what have you got to lose. So I did.
I have to confess at this point, I’ve been going through something of a crisis of confidence in my writing in the last few months. I’ve not written a huge amount and what I have written, when glanced back over with a critical eye, doesn’t seem up to snuff for me.
I’ve been laying low, not hitting my keyboard as much as I should have (as evidenced by the lack of bloggage) and focused instead on filmmaking rather than writing. I’ve been on a great project with Northants County Council, through Catalyst Theatre Arts, making a doc about a sibling support project in the area and I’ve also just come off Assistant Producing/Production Managing a UK Film Council short film, ELLIE.
I wasn’t prepared, then, for the email that landed in my inbox yesterday to say my script, NUMBER 10, has made it through to the next round of the RPP. Seriously.
My first reaction was utter delight – it felt like a real vindication of my work thus far and showed me that despite my crisis of confidence, I do actually have a bit of talent at this writing lark. The second thought was dread. I hadn’t actually looked at the Final Draft file with my submission on it since I sent it in. The email stated quite clearly that the full 60-pager had to be submitted by email by Monday lunchtime, just 6 days away.
I checked the file and did some calculations. I’d managed 21 pages of the script so far, of which I’d submitted the first 10. I now had 6 days to come up with another 40 pages that would match the quality of the submission that appears to have piqued the interest of the judges. And given that this was at 6pm, it really meant 5 days. And since I’m away giving a talking Liverpool on Thursday, that really meant 4 days. That’s an average of 10 pages a day, but I’d still need time to proof-read and edit before submission.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, I am also currently blogging. This is 600 words that could have gone into my script, but instead I’m sat here filling you all in. I hope you’re happy. I am.
Oli Lewingon, King Procrastinator & Red Planeteer.
Some other posts you might like:
- Nope, we got nada!