It’s now been a year and a half since I first posted “To A Stranger”, based on Mad Lori’s Performance in a Leading Role, on Archive of Our Own. The response was phenomenal and the comments and kudos from the Sherlock Fan Community have been heartwarming. I talk about the process of writing the script/ fanfic here, if you’re interested.
(I’m currently struggling with the rewrite of one of my non-fic novels, and sometimes when I’m really bummed about it, I go back to the TaS comments and read through them all again to remind me that my work is loved and that people can be generous and kind, and that the hard work is worth it.)
It’s now also been just over a year since I decided, with Lori’s permission and the encouragement of Kelley, Random Nexus, and the rest of the Sherlock Community, to tighten the fanfiction up into an original script and start submitting it around to film festivals and screenplay competitions.
Yesterday, I heard back from my final competition, so I thought I would give everyone a snapshot of what has happened with the script.
Here are the competitions I submitted to:
Toronto International Screenwriting Competition
The Carmesi: International Screenwriting Contest for Diverse Voices.
2016 Launch Pad Feature Competition
Depth of Field International Film Festival
Vail Screenplay Contest
California Women’s Film Festival (Summer)
Hamilton Film Festival – Canadian Film Market
2nd Annual Stage 32 Happy Writers Feature Script Contest
Shore Scripts Screenplay Contest
Neu World Studios International Film Festival
Script Pipeline Screenwriting and TV Writing Competition
Toronto Independent Film Festival
Slamdance Screenplay Competition
Vancouver Lift-Off Film Festival
Canada International Film Festival
The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
Now, what happens when you submit is that someone – usually an intern, a volunteer, or a jury member – sorts through the submissions and organizes the selections for the first-round readers to take a crack at. At that point they either reject the entry for being incomplete or incorrect, or at the next stage, decline to include it in the festival/competition. The screenplay (or finished film if it’s a film festival) is then moved out of consideration.
But if they select it for consideration in the competition, then the screenplay is called an “Official Selection” and you get laurels to use on posters, on your website, and in media packages. Like this:
To A Stranger was named an Official Selection / Finalist of the four festivals above.
However, only three of those announcements were made public as it turns out that the Canada International Film Festival had accidentally included and judged categories that it had intended to eliminate. We finalists were informed and shouldn’t have been. (You can read more about that small disaster here.)
From there the judges read the scripts and suggest their winners. Rejected scripts often, at this point, receive notification that they weren’t selected as a winner, and sometimes get suggested editing notes. My notes were… wildly contradictory. One reader said they loved the distinct voices of the characters, and another said they were unrealistic and that people never have such distinct voices. Some were mad that it was a gay love story where gay issues weren’t the central topic of the film, and some were relieved that it was a gay love story where gay issues weren’t the central topic of the film. Some loved the mood and tone of my descriptions, and some said there was too much “authoring” happening in the descriptions.
From there, To A Stranger was given two awards:
(The latter being the “Rising Star Award” at the Canada International Film Festival that I was informed I had won, and then immediately told that actually, they were eliminating the category. Oops, sorry.)
In summary, I entered 16 competitions over the length of one calendar year, was made an official selection four times, and won two awards (sort of).
However, what I really wanted out of the competitions – a producer to contact me to discuss options – never happened.
The producer who DID contact me about it, though… well, that’s a story for later. Once the discussions that are happening can be made public and contracts are signed.
I’ll keep you appraised of what’s happening there. My hopes are up, but as they say in the world of film:
Everything is nothing until it’s actually something.
Thanks for taking this journey with me, Fandom. I can’t wait until I can tell you about what happened next.