I’ve placed in a number of competitions, but the coolest by far was my first – The Austin Film Festival “Heart of Film Screenplay Competition”. It was long, long ago… Bush was still the Governor of Texas (I only know this because the screenplay finalists had a luncheon outside the Governor’s Mansion).
I remember receiving the letter notifying me I was a quarter finalist and informing my wife that if I made it to the semi-finals, I would like to attend the film festival. We had a brand spanking new baby, so taking off for a week wasn’t an easy choice, and even though I got home sick only after 3 days in Texas, the trip was worth it.
The place was crawling with celebrities, and though I was too shy to talk to most of them – I met Amanda Plummer (she was as sweet as pie), Laura Dern, saw Scorsese and a few others mingling during the events. Andrew Marlowe (who was a new celebrity screenwriter at the time) presented the awards. I even boarded the plane back home with Oliver Stone, but I was too doped up on Dramamine and Ativan (don’t care for flying) to say hello, let alone strike up a conversation. I seriously thought about slipping my screenplay into his carry bag.
I didn’t win, but I did option my script a few months later to a production company in New York who requested a list of the finalists from the competition.
Probably the coolest part, though, was hanging out with the eclectic group of screenwriters I was competing against – interesting creatures from all walks of life. Not sure what the contest is like these days, but I give the Austin Film Festival “Heart of Film Screenplay Competition” 5 stars.