I got LaLaLanded… sort of?

(Except, in the Oscars it was Moonlight that was robbed, and in this analogy it was LaLaLand?)

So, I wrote a feature film. It’s called “To A Stranger” and for the past year, I’ve been submitting it around to screenwriting competitions and film festivals. I’m quite pleased to say that it was named an  Official Selection for the NEU WORLD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, named an Official Selection and recieved an honourable mention with the DEPTH OF FIELD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, and was an official Quarter-Finalist for the CARMESI HOUSE INTERNATIONAL SCREENWRITING CONTEST FOR DIVERSE VOICES.

On Wednesday  March 15th, while having the great pleasure to be reading at the at the ChiZine Reading Series event in Toronto, I was pleased to receive an email from the Canada Film Festival informing me that my screenplay had won a prize, and to click the link to the list to find out which. Overjoyed, I told the folks around me, and then put away my phone – I was still at the reading event, after all, I didn’t want to be rude. I figured once I got off stage, I could read the list and see what I won, and share it with everyone at the event.

When I reopened my phone, it was to a second email profusely apologizing and saying that I’d been sent the congrats email by mistake.

I was bummed, but I thought: “Oh well. They picked someone else instead of me, I can handle that. They just informed me by mistake.”

But when I kept reading, I started to get angry. Because this is what it said:

Our deepest apologies for the mistaken email announcing you were a winner. 

This year we have condensed our winner amounts and only awarded 26 winners. Last year we awarded 56. You were chosen as a finalist for a winner in the categories of either Royal Reel, Rising Star, or Award of excellence. But we are no longer awarding those. This email was sent in error but want you to know that you script was highly scored and well deserving of an award. Unfortunately we are unable to award every single screenplay submission. 

We are transitioning and during this time mistakes happen and we are so very sorry for the false email. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to compensate for this error. “

Which, you know what? Is insulting.

“Oh, you won, but actually we eliminated the category so you didn’t win after all?”

Are you serious?

Firstly, as someone who pays to enters these competitions, this feels like a crass money grab. And second, as someone who volunteers every year to judge a film festival, I was livid on behalf of the judges who had clearly gone to all the hard work of choosing the award winners, only to have the categories eliminated after all the work is done.

I understand the need to be more efficient, to streamline a festival, to make changes. But to do so not only in the midst of a festival after entries were submitted (instead of between years), but to do so after winners have been chosen? It’s very disrespectful.

I shot an email back, very politely expressing my disappointment but understanding, and asking what award I would have won. I was told it was “Rising Star” and that they would be offering me a refund on my entry fee.

I replied, again politely, that honestly speaking, I would much rather have the award than the refund. $25, or the ability to put a laurel with “Rising Star” on my screenplay as I shopped it? The laurel is much more important to my screenplay and career than my $25. And, I pointed out, since they’d already deliberated and assigned the awards, it didn’t seem too strenuous to just… give out digital laurels. I thanked them for the refund offer, but repeated that the laurels are more important to me.

Besides, I wondered, but didn’t ask, were they refunding everyone? All the people whose categories were eliminated? I hoped so. I hoped that meant  that thirty other people were getting their money back, and not just me because I was the one who complained. Though, again, I don’t see the point in slashing categories where all the work was already actually done – including informing the winners  – in favor of having to give back $750.

All I got back was silence for over a week. I sent another email politely asking which decision they’d come to – the awards or the refunds, and was curtly informed, by an unsigned email, that my refund had already been put through. (That was Friday. Today is Monday, and there is no refund on my account yet, but it may take a few business days, so I can be patient about that.)

I replied that I appreciated the refund, and inquired again about what decision had been made about assigning the awards after all. Again, silence. To date, silence.


I won an award, but didn’t. I’m extremely pleased and flattered to be named a festivals’ “Rising Star” screenwriter, as I think this is a very important thing to be out in the world and Google-able to people who may be researching me or looking for fresh scripts, only it’s not going to be posted or found anywhere.  I assume I’ll get my $25 back, but I don’t want $25 – I want the laurels that I’ve earned, and been awarded. I want to honor the judge’s hard work, and recommend the festival to anyone else, but now I can’t and I never will.

It was extremely unprofessional of the festival to do this.

It’s extremely irritating, and saddening, and at the same time… all I can do is sigh about it. Because it’s still in their power to decide not to award the categories, and not in mine. Still, I don’t recommend submitting your work to the festival in the future, because who knows what categories they’ll eliminate mid-festival next year.

So. Um. Yeah. There it is. “To A Stranger” won a thing… and then it didn’t.

JM FreyI got LaLaLanded… sort of?
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Paranormal Radio Appearance and Giveaway!

J.M. Frey on ParaNormal Radio

Airdate: June 30, 2014 Listen || Download

Host (and fantastic author in her own right) Arial Burnz and I chat about ghosts, real life hauntings, and my books! There is also a a BOOK GIVE AWAY. Make sure to enter before July 6th to get your free eBook copy of Hero Is A Four Letter Word.

Arial is also the one who gave me the idea to pursue my upcoming project. It’s still secret for now, so keep following the #tDLatS hashtag to ensure that you don’t miss the big announcement!

From the website:

We have two authors on the show today who are highly intellectual and write Science Fiction – Ransom Stephens is a scientist who incorporates his profession into his novels, and JM Frey who is a Fanthropologist who also incorporates her studies into her fiction. Both of them have giveaways, so listen to learn how you can win!
•Episode Number: 23
•Length: 40 minutes
•Host: Arial Burnz

JM FreyParanormal Radio Appearance and Giveaway!
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Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop

Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop

Happy Holidays, everyone!

To celebrate the season I’m giving away a copy of WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME, the Forward Book of the Year nominated SF/F anthology edited by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood.

My short story, The Once and Now-ish King is included in the anthology; it is a story about what happens with King Arthur returns in the time of Albion’s greatest need, as the legends say… only the trouble’s on it’s way and he’s still just an infant!

Here is a sneak preview:

The first thing that Arthur Pendragon, the Once and Future (well, Now-ish) King did upon his rebirth into the world at the moment of Albion’s greatest need, was to open his shrivelled red mouth and squall out: “Oh hell, no.

Which startled his Mother quite badly, you’ll understand, as she had just put him to her breast for his first little feeding. She shook her head and glared balefully at the IV needle in the bend of her elbow, ignored her new son’s outburst, and went about her task.

The second thing that Arthur Pendragon, the Once and Now-ish King did upon his rebirth into the world at the moment of Albion’s greatest need, was to consume his body weight in breast milk. After which, he soiled his nappy, burped quite dramatically, and took a wee bit of a nap.

Getting born was hard work, you know.

The next thing that Arthur Pendragon, the Once and Now-ish King, did upon his rebirth was to wake up and ask to where that good for nothing senile git of a wizard had gotten.  Nobody else was in the hospital room with Arthur and his new mother, so he had to repeat it a few times to convince her that she was not, in fact, hearing things.  “Great ancient sorcerer with the beard?”

“What, Dumbledore?” his mother asked, trying to make her eyes the size of regular eyes again, rather than saucers. She wasn’t quite succeeding.  “Or, um, Merlin?”

“Yes, Merlin!” Arthur shrilled, then frowned because his voice hadn’t been that high since, well, since the last time he was a baby.  In a more sedate, and what he hoped was a more kingly tone, he went on to clarify: “Who the hell else would I mean?”

“I, uh, I’m sure I don’t know, dearest,” his mother said, and started to cry.

Arthur felt quite bad about that, because she seemed a nice lady, especially since she had just put up with him in her womb for nine months. He resolved to be a bit gentler with her thereafter.

Comment below to tell me about your favourite hero to enter. Winner will be selected on December 24th.

Check out the other blogs on the hop, and enter the blog hop contest to win a KINDLE FIRE.

JM FreyMistletoe Madness Blog Hop
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