Recently I had decided to submit my most recent feature screenplay Pyre to some screenwriting contests, because it has been a while since I'd felt proud of a screenplay enough to try and compete with it. The script is something I feel quite a bit of passion toward, for some reason. While it's a script of subject matter I usually do not write about, it was a lot of fun to develop the story and so I hope it entertains everyone else as well (although, it's a slow-burn story until the last twenty pages or so).
One of the contests was for 13Horror.com Film and Screenplay Competition, a festival I've entered before (back in 2019 with Envy—unfortunately it was not selected...for any of the festivals I entered it into...). It was one day before the extended deadline ended, so I thought, What the hell? and entered. A few days later, I got this judge's comment back that lifted up my spirits:
You have a superb ear for dialogue and I really enjoyed getting lost in some of the awkwardly cringe-inducing and creepy exchanges that you have embedded into Pyre. Giving it a quick second read through, there are a number of very amusing hidden-in-plain-sight clues on display very early on (and well before any references to Mister Grant not appreciating garlic). Very nicely done. I once played the role of Arthur Holmwood, (one of) the love interest(s) of Lucy Westernra in a Fleet Street production of Dracula. Perhaps it was this connection that made me view this as a kind of conveyor belts of Lucys, with Sterling doing his bit as Renfield in terms of his assistance. It’s superbly paced and you have done a great job in keeping the actions and descriptions focussed and relevant. This really allows the excellent dialogue to shine even more. A pleasure to read!
At this point I felt I had it in the bag, ya know? Either way, it was a great thing to see. Mostly because, well...
When I finished Pyre I had posted it to the screenwriting community of Reddit, and everyone who read it totally ripped it apart. Called it boring, unoriginal, and just had nothing good to say about it. Not that I fish for compliments when it comes to critique on my work, but it is nice to hear some good things. So, it dampened my spirits for a while.
The comments above, however, were a pleasant surprise. Low and behold, come announcement day on November 15, and Pyre was selected as one of the winners in the competition! There were first through third places, plus an additional ten winners. I was one of the additional ten, and with it I received a laurel, as well as the opportunity to have my script published into a paperback book and e-book version on Amazon!
So, keep an eye out for a physical copy of Pyre one day!