Friday, March 27, 2009

I didn't win the Red Planet Prize...

...but I'd have been stunned and even dismayed if I had. Why? My first ten pages were polished so hard they shined, full of great little character moments and bloody good button to finish, even if I say so myself. That got my script enough love to make the second round, where some 70 writers were asked to submit their complete script [from more than 1000 entrants]. Only one problem - I hadn't actually finished writing the whole script. Arsebiscuits.

It's not like I had nothing. FAMILIES AT WAR started life as a 60-page pilot, written as the final project for my screenwriting MA. A subsequent polish knocked it down to 50 pages, before a total rewrite took it right down to 28 pages. That was what I submitted as my sample for the BBC Writers' Academy last year. [I've been told that version went a long way through the selection process, but got set aside for being too soapy, not bold enough.]

When Red Planet announced it was looking for TV pilot scripts, I spent two months getting nowhere on new projects. Eventually I saw the light and gave the first ten pages of FAMILIES AT WAR a high sheen polish, so it damn well gleamed. That's what got me to the second round two months later, and a request for the full script. Stupidly, I hadn't believed my work was good enough to make the cut, so I never progressed rewriting the rest of it.

The email from Red Planet asking for the rest of my script soon put a stop to that. I spent the next four days working round the clock to create a new script that did its best to deliver the promise of those first ten pages. But I still love my story and characters - they'll find a home one day, one way or another. What lessons have I learnt from this experience? An unfinished rewrite is no use to anybody, and have more faith in myself.

Congratulations to the writer who has won, and to all the other scribes who made the second round. Apparently some amongst us will be invited to workshops during the summer, with the chosen few to be notified.

1 comment:

laurence timms said...

My experience mirrored yours in some respects. I polished the first ten until I could see my face in them but never bothered writing the rest because I seriously never thought I was in with a chance.

Got the "you're a finalist" email and spent four days and three nights writing, reviewing and re-writing fifty pages of script.

I'll second your lesson: half a script is no script at all. Finish it, however pants you think it is. A finished script is a banked script.