Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Hollywood, Why Won't You Return My Calls?

Back in 2007, when my career frustration had yet to snowball into a full-blown crisis, I decided to enroll in a non-credit class, just for the hell of it. Since I had always wanted to be a writer, Fiction Writing 101 seemed like an obvious choice. The teacher was a one-time novelist who utilized the opportunity to show off his chest hair and promote his band. He did throw in a discussion of Aristotle’s story-telling arc. He also gave us an assignment to write a piece of short fiction that would be read aloud during the next class. I went home and wrote the short story equivalent of a bad Lifetime movie featuring teenage girls who rebel (oh, the drama!). I knew it was awful, so I dropped the class and never went back.

One day, I was riding the subway home from work and saw a guy reading a book on Screenwriting. I considered it a sign and immediately enrolled in Screenwriting 101. This time, I took an instant liking to the teacher. He was bitter and self-deprecating and brought a half-empty bottle of vodka to class. I was also less intimidated to share my writing, since most of my classmates were crazy. My favorite of the bunch was an elderly lady who had recently adopted an 18-year-old boy (no, that’s not a typo). I admired her blatant disregard for screenplay format; she mostly shared handwritten journal entries. Her best story was about a hermaphrodite who wanted to be a ballerina but couldn’t wear a leotard without giving herself away. This lady also had a knack for finding new and hilarious ways of insulting other students’ work. She once told me that I had worked too hard and should try again with much less effort.

I ignored her advice and worked tirelessly to finish my first script, a comedy entitled BEST WISHES, NICE KNOWING YOU. I submitted it to the most prestigious screenwriting contest out there: the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here I am mailing my submission in April 2008. Aw, look how hopeful and optimistic I am!

Amazingly, I did fall into the top 10%. It was nice validation, but you need a win to get noticed. Two years later, I’m still submitting to contests. As an unknown screenwriter, that’s about all you can do. Although I’ve started (and occasionally finished) other scripts, BEST WISHES, NICE KNOWING YOU is still my best. So I keep trying to improve it, and every year, it places in at least one contest:

2008 Gotham Screen Finalist

2009 Slamdance Top 100

2010 Page Quarterfinalist

Of course, it also gets its fair share of rejections. In the last 24 hours, I got cut from both the Nicholl Fellowship and Scriptapalooza. I did get a P.S. from the Nicholls explaining that I almost made the Quarterfinals. Great, thanks. Anyway, if I’m less funny today, I blame the depression.

And so my smart female comedy will continue to gather dust. But at least I can look forward to the high quality films that Hollywood is sure to come out with: Bride Wars 2 and Sex and the City 3!


  1. Persistence is key! You'll get noticed soon and hopefully Best Wishes can stop Bride Wars 2 from killing us all!

  2. you got me at "try again with much less effort"! great post. sorry you keep getting rejected. :(