Oh, boy are we excited! After six weeks and three rounds of judging, we have our 2015 FiLMLaB Finalists! A very competitive set of eight scripts went through our Celebrity Judging panel where they were evaluated based on six questions for a possible 30 points (or 90 cumulative):
- On which page were you ‘hooked’ by the story?
- How well did the writer integrate the Character Prompt? (Bug Eyed Bill)
- How well did the writer integrate the Prop? (A lock)
- How well did the writer integrate the Dialogue Prompt? (“I understand the urge.”)
- Is the script cinematic?
- Is this a good story well told? (were you entertained)
Each question was worth a maximum of five points, with points awarded inversely for question 1 (hooking the reader on page 1 earned the writer 5 points; page 2 was 4 points and so on). Additionally, our Celebrity Judges were free to give notes on each of the questions, offering valuable insight to every semifinalist as they move forward in their writing career.
We went in with eight. We thought we’d come out with three, maybe four, tops. In the end, we had five scripts so closely scored we had no choice but to say:
Congratulations 2015 FiLMLaB Finalists!
“I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and Advanced Degrees in Communication Arts and Human Relations. As a career army officer, I wrote training articles and doctrine chapters for military publications. Since retiring, I’ve concentrated on writing short stories, novels, and screenplays. I have an affinity for writing assignments that require the inclusion of specific items. It’s like being placed in a box, yet required to think outside of it. In short, I write because I must. Having to draw on both experience and imagination to create something new and unique is its own reward, but this act of creation lends meaning to what would otherwise be an unfulfilled existence.” — Ted Blasche, Portland, OR (Bug Eyed Bill & The Beauty Queen)
“Originally from Toronto, I’ve lived in Portland for twenty years, returning recently after four years in New York. My two passions in life are writing and movies. Although I’ve written documentaries, I’ve never written a short film. What intrigued me about the FilmLab competition was the opportunity to learn experientially about the craft of film making. The possibility of having the film made was the irresistible icing on the cake. That would be a dream come true. It’s been thrilling so far.” — Irene Parikhal, Portland, OR (Neighbors)
“I found the Willamette Writers FiLMLaB contest more by accident than intention. I recently completed my first full length script and I was ready to start a second project. The Willamette Writers FiLMLaB short contest fit the bill in so many areas. The page count limitations made it more manageable than starting another full length script. Additionally, the thematic prompt such as the lock, the dialogue requirement and of course Bug Eyed Bill made it seem like the perfect challenge. Although I had no experience in writing short screenplays, I was ready to take a swing. Finally, the chance to see my script actually produced was an exciting prospect. All of these factors went into my decision to enter the contest and I am very happy I did. It has been a great experience so far.” — Mark Scarbrough, Plano, TX (The Robbery)
“I entered ‘the lab’ as a sort of test for myself. I have always adored films, watched them, collected them, studied them. Secretly, I always harbored a dream to work in film. I was just too afraid to attempt it. It always seemed a larger-than-life dream to me, like the films themselves. But when I was looking at the Willamette Writers site in March, I noticed the link for FilmLab, clicked, and there it was–the contest. It got me thinking–Could I write a short film? Could I write a good short film? So I started writing, and something happened. I was spending hours writing and time didn’t exist. I felt alive and creative in a way I hadn’t felt for a long time. So I entered the contest, submitted my script, and the best thing of all happened — I kept writing. Now I have a new question: Can I embrace life as a writer of movies? A screenwriter? And my answer: Hell yes! So, thank you Willamette Writers, and thank you FilmLab for helping me to finally work on my dream.” — Claire Soister, Portland, OR (Seeing Clearly)
“I write Fantasy Science Fiction in novel and screenplay format with exhortation from the Harney Basin Writers Group in Burns, Oregon. My short script, SCI FI N THAI 2Go, comes to FilmLab 2015 via an encounter in a local Thai restaurant that incited capture in script form. The FilmLab folk have a good eye for story and I wanted to share this offbeat tale.” — MJ (Peg) Wallis, Burns, OR (SciFi N Thai 2Go)
Congratulations to our Semifinalists, all of whom won a Screenwriter’s Pass to the 2015 Portland Film Festival (September 1-7), as well as a downloadable copy of Final Draft 9 to aid in their continued creativity and screenwriting. We are honored to have been able to read your work and look forward to seeing your names on the big screen as you move forward in your careers.
Our Finalists, however, are not done yet. Not quite, because what kind of an experiential screenwriting contest would we be if we didn’t ask for a rewrite? Using the notes they received from our celebrity judges we are giving them an opportunity to improve their script before a winner is selected. And because time is money on a production set, they only have till midnight, on Monday, May 18th to turn it in.
To guide them through the rewrite process and help them make sense of the sometime contradictory judges notes, we’ve asked screenwriting veteran Randall Jahnson (The Doors, Mask of Zorro) to act as a FiLMLaB mentor. Each of the Finalists will have an opportunity to take advantage of his tremendous experience in the film trade as they come up with a strategy to tackle this last phase of the contest.
Who will evaluate the rewritten scripts? Check back on Monday, May 18th and I’ll tell you.
Special thanks to our Celebrity Judges, Luke Ryan, Virginia McCarthy and Kim Guidone for their fine work, and once again:
Congratulations 2015 FiLMLaB Finalists!