This week I received the script evaluations from the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship for my submission The Resurrection of Dennis Munson. I wrote about my submission to the fellowship several weeks ago in a post call “The Best of the Noise.” Check it out if you haven’t had the chance yet.
It was really helpful to receive the readers' comments. Historically, I’d submit a work and I’d hear either a Yes - your script was judged good enough to advance - or No - Sorry, there was a lot of competition this year... Yes or No feedback isn't really helpful, so the reader evaluations are like gold.
The reader comments were not exhaustive evaluations of the script, instead, a brief three-paragraph summary of the reader’s impression of the script. Reader 1 was not keen on the story. Reader 1 said the script was “very well told on a craft level” but cutting between the fantasy world and the real world didn’t work and the fantasy portions should be minimized and the story focused on the real world storyline. I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like this script. Some people will get it and some people won’t. And that’s okay.
Reader 2 and Reader 3 were both very positive. They both commented on how imaginative and emotional the script was and complemented the world building of both the real and fantasy worlds. The most important comment came from Reader 3 who wrote that the piece works as a mainstream fantasy script. I wrote in a past post (see "When Your Great is Just Above Average") that many readers dismiss the script because they believe it is not mainstream enough to justify the production budget necessary to make this film. It is encouraging to find someone, even if they are anonymous, who sees the broad reaching potential of the story.
The Nicholl Fellowship reader comments were not the only news I received about my script this week. The Austin Film Festival told me the script advanced to the second round of their screenwriting competition – top 15%. It didn’t land in the top 1%, which would have made it a semi-finalist. I’m not surprised. It’s what I expected. Where between 2% and 15% the script landed, I don’t know.
I will be attending the Austin Film Festival next month, so this is all encouraging news and it gives me a bit of a confidence boost as I prepare to go to the festival and pitch the story.
As a final thought and a testimony to the notion that a creative work is never really complete, I’m going back to rewrite a couple scenes. I haven’t touched the script in months, but one of the reader comments spurred an idea, a better idea.
The story can always get better.
A WRITER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES