Just over three weeks ago, THE RETURN OF BUG EYED BILL (our 2015 FiLMLaB winner) debuted at the 46th Annual Willamette Writers Conference to a packed house and an enthusiastic, inquisitive audience eager to see the winning short script and what we and director Mike Parisien had done with it. But if you missed it in August, fear not, because this week Bug Eyed Bill heads to the Portland Film Festival.
Our winning writer, Mark Scarbrough, was not able to make the debut as originally planned, but all four of his co-finalists were in attendance, along with PFF Executive Director and FiLMLaB Judge, Josh Leake, who had this to say, “It was impressive and engaging—all the attendees were so positive about how wonderful their experience was. You all deserve a world of praise.”
Originally titled “The Robbery,” Mark’s seven page script told the tale of a bank robber named Bill flashing back to his impoverished younger self as he carries out his crime. That is, before he received script notes from our panel of celebrity judges and rewrote the story for final judging with our producers.
That was Rewrite #1 and something each finalist was able to participate in with guidance from FiLMLaB script mentor, Randall Jahnson. Consistently in the top five during the judging process, it was the strength of his rewrite that moved Mark into the top spot to win the Grand Prize.
Rewrite #2 followed immediately thereafter as director Mike Parisien began to imbue the story with his own cinematic vision and worked with Mark to get it on the page. What followed was the push and pull of creative collaboration through further rewrites as both the director and writer worked to get the best version of the story onto the screen.
At some point, after the excitement of winning dims, FiLMLaB ceases to be fun and becomes like–well–work. And that really is the point of FiLMLaB, to create that opportunity for emerging writers to be pushed and pulled, to learn when to defend their creative choices, and when to kill their darlings. When a shooting script is finally arrived at, the story can begin to move forward to its final culmination on the silver screen and to its WWC debut.
Now that the 2015 FiLMLaB contest season is over, what’s next?
Film festivals! I spoke to Mark last week about which festivals he might be interested in submitting his short film to, maybe something in Texas, a little closer to home? Willamette Writers provides a small budget for film festival entry fees, but the writer and director are free to enter as many as their personal wallets allow. Our first stop: Portland Film Festival! You can catch THE RETURN OF BUG EYED BILL at #pdxff15 on Sunday, September 6, at the Laurelhurst Theater in Short Blocks #14-Directors Pick (3:45). We hope to see you there, and at many of the short film blocks including the PDX 48 Hour Film Block, where our director has a second film (Swingset) playing Saturday, September 5 at the Clinton St. Theater (12:00).