Recently I had two scripts through to the final of the Create 50: The Impact writing competition. It's a Chris Jones initiative that brings creatives together to collaborate on something special. The competition got me thinking about the benefits of these competitions in general for aspiring writers/directors/creatives that are on the outside of the industry looking to find a window on a latch to try and break in.
My first short film was made in 2007. A group of people with little to no filmmaking experience decided to enter a 24hr film competition. You know the drill. You're given a prop, a line of dialogue, a title and 24hrs to write, shoot, edit and deliver your final film. The team consisted of my twin sister (producer) her (now ex) boyfriend (camera op), my sisters friend (University lecturer/sound recordist) and me (wannabe Spielberg). My actors were friends from work. It was a real ramshackle 24hrs. But we got the film finished and low and behold we came second. The film THE BEATBOX KID is below.
I got the filmmaking bug thanks to the competition and the films success. I was so excited that I entered the same competition that was running later in the year. The results however, were not the same. The film was called GRIM UP NORTH and it was about the Grim Reaper looking for love in all the wrong places. It's so bad that I don't even have a version to stream online. Honestly - don't look for it. Please god don't look for it.
It was a bitter pill to swallow. Having had such success followed by what felt like a huge kick in the teeth. It was my first (of many) lessons in rejection.
One thing I have improved at over the years, is dusting myself off and pushing forward to the next project. The development of thick skin is something that you'll need to grow as a survival mechanism.
Fast forward two years. With several short films and one no budget feature film under my belt, it was time for another challenge. This time it was a different competition that gave us 48 hours to complete a film. This competition provided us with a specific genre. I could hear my crew groan when I told them we were making a ROMANCE movie. Quite a bit had changed in a couple of years. I knew professional crew and professional actors so I felt a bit more confident after the last mishap.
The result was the film below. Called REFLECTIONS OF LOVE.
The film screen as part of the competitions selection of 'worthy' films. It was great being able to go and watch someone I had made in a cinema. At the time it was the best film I'd made and although we didn't win anything I knew that personally it was an achievement.
Jumping forward another four years. In that time period I'd been fortunate enough to have short films screened at festivals all over the world and I had just completed production on an adventurous film shot over four seasons. I found a 60 hour film competition and with yet another new crew and new actors we entered the following short film. It's called '88'.
The film was very well received and placed 3rd out of around 1400 teams competing. Again, like all the films mentioned in this blog it felt like a real progression.
Since then I have entered Jamesons First Shot unsuccessfully and I wrote three scripts for Create50:The Impact, two of which have made the final. I think these types of competitions are important for a few reasons. They provide goals to achieve. Procrastination can be a deadly foe. You're given parameters and deadlines that you wouldn't necessarily impose on yourself. They also give you a chance to practice your craft. A writer gets better by writing. A filmmaker gets better by making films. I know looking back retrospectively I can see my own personal growth as a storyteller and I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to make all of them.
The next stage for Create50: The Impact is to shortlist fifty scripts and then invite filmmakers from all over the world to make those chosen films. Regardless of the outcome of my scripts within the competition, I may well have a crack at making one of the short films in that top 50.