Last month I planned to apply to the HBO Access Writing Fellowship. I was very excited about it, too. I registered with Withoutabox (the place you can submit to festivals and contests) and I requested an e-mail notification scheduled for when the submissions were open. Yes, I read the fine print saying they would only accept the first 1000 submissions beginning Wed. 3/4/2015 at 9 am PST/ 12 pm EST – check. No day job that day so I set my alarm for 9 am and actually woke up. Halfway there, right?
No e-mail notice from Withoutabox — okay, whatever. I went to the site and at 9:08 am I was not allowed accessed. They were not accepting submissions. Fine. I tweaked my submission materials. I took a little too long because I am a jackass and when I went back to the submission page it was over. Done. No thank you, we’ve reached our cap. WTF???? I don’t know when the cap was reached, and I checked several times, but the last time I checked it was 12:41 pm.
My bad. Shame on me. I take full responsibility for not hovering over my screen until I could submit, but really, this is what the state of Diversity Fellowship has come to? Having us circle this Withoutabox site like sharks after chum just to get our work to be the fastest to pile on? I can’t be the only one who thinks a 3 1/2 hour submission window is shockingly snobbish. Is HBO even taking themselves seriously?
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My favorite Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Permanence is an illusion.” I know what you’re thinking. What a crazy, sexy, kick ass cool broad I must be that I have a favorite Greek philosopher. He also said, “Character is destiny. ” A-ha. Right? You’re welcome. It’s a statement so simple yet insanely profound. Writing a successful screenplay requires understanding your characters so you can design their destiny. The plot and action and dialogue will always suffer without strong three dimensional individuals drawing the audience in. A lot of writers prefer to let their characters develop themselves. Sure, I get that. Some writers only know the basic want/need/goal and the details of the character will sort themselves. That’ll work in the first draft, but when it’s time to submit you have to remember that no actor wants to play a role that does not function on many layers.
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Hollywood is a jungle. A tangle of overgrown vines, dense vegetation and trails both charted and not. It is easy to get lost in the underbrush. I’m sure you get the metaphor so let’s get down to it. In order to survive Hollywood you need skills. And luck. A lot of luck. New writers have a better chance capturing a leprechaun than selling a million dollar script these days. I’ve been surviving this jungle for almost twenty years (Holy shit, has it really been that long? Fuck.) Anyway, I know a little something about improving talent, acquiring skills and creating luck all while living day by day. This survival guide is intended as a personal blog. My survival as it were with a few tips that may help or inspire you. I’m going to rant. Frequently, and if you learn something, um– ‘kay.
The emerging screenwriter is someone coming into their own by making their personal pathway in. And when you’ve established it, you’ll be able to call yourself a working writer. In the meantime, how do you make it through the days, weeks, years or however long it will take you to get where you want to be?
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