Our Big Break Was Exactly That…
Let me start by saying, I was late writing this blog. Not because it isn’t important to me, because it very much is, and I have so many great things to say about my experience with the Final Draft Big Break contest. Instead, I was late writing this blog because, currently, I am going over a look book for our feature film Breedlove (our winning script), working on our second draft of a pilot, and putting together an outline for a re-write we were assigned. As aspiring writers, this is probably what our days should look like no matter what. But for the first time, these are tasks assigned to us by our management team. For the first time, we have people behind us, directing us and pointing us on a path to what hopefully will be success. And I can honestly say, Final Draft had a hand in painting this picture.
When we found out that our feature film was the grand prize winner, I remember thinking ‘this will be great in helping us pitch our script.’ The prizes were great and the awards ceremony was surreal, but I honestly thought that at the end of the day, it would simply be a very strong conversation starter. While that definitely is the case (everyone in the industry recognizes the contest), I seriously underestimated what Final Draft had in store for us. They made sure we met people at every level of the industry connected to writing. Agents, managers, studio heads – everyone. Some of these meetings are purely informative, but lots are there to build lasting relationships. We knew which were which because we were literally coached on what to expect beforehand. I cannot stress enough how much everyone at Final Draft wants this to effectively change your careers. This contest was the first time I actually felt like a writer, and now I can’t shake the feeling.
I have been acting in the industry for many years, and breaking into the writing game I experienced a lot of the same barriers. That imaginary wall that you keep hitting, wishing you could climb it, break through it, or maybe just even peak your head over it. Whatever analogy you choose to describe that barrier, it exists. Or at least it feels like it exists. The beautiful thing about writing, is that you can practice and perform without ever seeing the other side of that wall. So my advice is to do that. Write a ton. One day you may find a way around that wall, and you will always wish you had written more. That I can promise. At the very least, you will have yourself some material. No matter where you are in the game, you’re gonna need that. Now that you have material, you’re gonna have to pass it around to people, hoping that a blind submission or a friend can get your material to the other side of that wall. Risky, but also worth a try. Now, here is what I realized after my experience with Final Draft. Contests are like little mail slots in that wall. Someone on the other side will read your material if it is good. Bottom line. What that ultimately means for you or me, I don’t know. But hey, at least it got to the other side right?
For more information on The Big Break Screenwriting Contest, click here!
Daniel Bonjour is a South African born writer/director/actor best known for his roles in independent movies, The Walking Dead, and now the new CW show Frequency. Acting, directing and writing have all earned him awards, most recently winning the grand prize for the feature film script Breedlove at the 2016 Final Draft awards. His directorial debut film, After the Rain is currently hitting the festival circuit and will be releasing this fall.