So… I submitted my feature script “St. Kevin’s UFO” (previously titled “Gracie: Alien Abductor”) to the Page International
Screenwriting Awards back in February. I got into the quarter finals, though not the semi finals, so I didn’t expect the feedback that the judge sent me the other night. The feedback was in an attachment. The body of the email says:
“For various reasons, approximately 95% of scripts submitted to agencies and production companies receive a ‘Pass.’ Approximately 5% receive a ‘Consider.’ Less than 1% receive a ‘Recommend.’ Because their jobs are always on the line, industry script readers rarely give any script a strong ‘Recommend.’”
I prepared myself for a Pass when I opened the attachment, because I’m not naive. The judge gave me a Recommend.
On the one hand, yay! On the other hand, I have no idea what to do with this information.
I brought “St. Kevin’s UFO” to last year’s Pitchfest and no one wanted to read it. I did more rewrites after that, and changed the title, and learned better pitching techniques, but I barely mentioned “St. Kevin’s UFO” at this year’s Pitchfest because I thought it might not be commercial enough. I focused on my tv drama pilot because it was a more convincing pitch. The Page judge, however, says my quirky science fiction comedy is “a marketing department’s dream.” Oh.
A few years ago when she was a development exec, my judge could have bought my script and done something with it. I don’t even know her name because the judging is (understandably) anonymous. We get a pair of initials and a blurb about the person’s qualifications and that’s all. If I quote her in an introduction letter to a production company, it’s not like they can double-check its legitimacy by asking her. I might as well say “my parents tell me it’s nifty”.
Last summer, a development exec suggested in a private consultation that I try to get a well-known funny actress on board to play Gracie the alien, preferably someone with producing experience. I know exactly who I want to contact first. If she’s anything like she comes across in interviews, she might be okay with me embracing the awkward and explaining all of the above. That’s best case scenario. That approach could just as easily come across as unprofessional.
In other news, a production company that seemed downright enthusiastic about my television pilot script ended up turning it down. Not a big surprise. Rejection happens. I’m not going to take it personally because not all projects are a perfect match for all companies. That’s just how reality works. I’m just glad they wrote me back and told me.
The “no” is a little disappointing because I won’t have another opportunity to network in L.A. (or Vancouver or Toronto) for a while, and the ideas in my pilot are starting to trend in popular culture (something that wasn’t publicly happening back when I wrote the first draft) which means it either needs to be made as soon as possible, or else it’ll stay on the shelf for fifteen to twenty years waiting for the trends to come around again. I wrote something personal to me with this pilot. That does not mean I would be offended by having to change it drastically. Altering scripts, and letting other people alter them, is also part of reality. What I mean is, it’s a rare moment when specific personal fandoms and interests correspond with public appetite, and that’s not an opportunity I want to waste.
I’ve heard more than a couple of people say “but if you love the process, isn’t that reward enough?” The process is reward enough to stick with it, sure, but words are about communication. This isn’t a diary, it’s my job, and it’s something I do to entertain an audience. Finding that audience would be the real reward, and frankly, the ability to pay for life’s necessities wouldn’t hurt either.