New York Film Academy 12 Week Final Draft Fellowship: The Movie
A true story about an older-than-30 web developer who wins the Thriller/Horror category of the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition and embarks on a prize fellowship that will test his ability to maintain his job, his marriage, and his sanity as he tries to rewrite a pilot and write a new feature script in 12 weeks.
TIM has dreamed of being a screenwriter since he was a child when his father took him to inappropriate grindhouse movies at the drive-ins. He’s older than 30, hardworking, and reflexively sarcastic.
FEARFUL. I mean, he’s a writer, not a fricking ice-road trucker. Also, he saw Alien when he was nine, so give him a break.
Tim’s script Bait Night is chosen as the Thriller/Horror finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition and he wins a 12-week fellowship with New York Film Academy.
Story Structure Checklist (courtesy Ed Horowitz)
1. What does your main character WANT?
Tim wants to write a feature script and rewrite his TV Pilot in 12 weeks, despite having a 40-plus-hour work week, a marriage, a house, and two very dependent cats. He wants to become a successful Hollywood writer who gets to spend unhealthy amounts of time self-flagellating alone in front of a computer screen.
2. Who are his FRIENDS/FOES?
- TODD – His HUSBAND who supports his ambitions, but reminds him that this will not absolve him from other responsibilities, like cleaning the litter box.
- LEE – His screenwriting COACH who thinks he should choose one project to focus on instead of two.
- ANN – His BOSS who still expects to see a brand-new website by the end of June and cares not whether he will find a juicy second-act twist.
- SQUEAKY – His rapacious inner-critic and “obsessive thought artist” whose esteem-withering songs You Suck So Bad, Nobody Cares, and Everyone Thinks You’re a Loser are on heavy rotation inside Tim’s head.
3. What SKILLS, TALENTS and DEFICIENCIES does your main character have?
Tim’s an okay writer, I guess. I mean, he’s not Robert Towne. He overcommits, is obsessive, takes the weight of the world on his shoulders, and still chews his nails like a teenage girl. He’s also really hard on shoes.
4. What ACTION CHOICE does your main character make to obtain his want?
Tim drives like a bat out of hell from downtown L.A. to Burbank through rush-hour traffic for his first class, yet is still characteristically late.
5. What ALLIES do your main character encounter?
His painfully talented co-finalists:
- ERIC – The humble, outrageously handsome Sci-Fi/Fantasy feature finalist who loves superheroes and lab-grown protein drinks.
- MATT – The quiet, composed Family/Animated feature finalist who serves tea the proper way, yet is not afraid of a well-timed poop joke.
- JULIA – The sweet, generous Hour Pilot finalist who builds worlds in her mind and is a practiced movie trivia game shark.
- ALEXIS – The reserved, brilliant Comedy feature finalist and GRAND PRIZE WINNER (she made me put that in all caps) who also is a highly ranked competitive fidget spinner.
His amazing instructors:
- JERRY – The television instructor who delivers his precise notes with the soothing cadence of a yoga instructor.
- ED – The feature instructor who delivers his precise notes with the relentless hammering of an ice storm.
6. What ENEMIES do your main character encounter?
- JOB – The all-consuming website development job that ensures Tim eats, but sucks up 8-10 hours of every workday and a few weekend hours, too.
- ANN – She’s really nice, but she’s invested in JOB being completed on time, so she’s on the enemies list.
7. Who is the ANTAGONIST who prevents the main character from achieving his goal?
- SQUEAKY – She is dropping new tracks daily, including We Don’t Need Another Screenplay and Just Give Up and Become a Teacher.
8. What is the WANTED OBJECT?
A new feature screenplay and a rewritten TV Pilot.
9. What is the MIDPOINT SHIFT that creates an epiphany for your main character?
After failing to nail the basic story points of his feature by week six, he comes to believe that Squeaky has possessed his pugilistic screenwriting teacher, Ed.
10. How do the STAKES INCREASE?
Job and family crises intensify. Despite numerous revisions, a clearly possessed Ed keeps telling Tim that he does not have a story yet.
11. What PERSONAL LESSON does the main character learn?
Tim learns he’s an obsessive person who overcommits to projects and sends himself into downward spirals of self-hate. In other words, he learns he really is a writer.
12. What is the LOWEST MOMENT?
Tim realizes his feature script is not going to be finished in 12 weeks and descends into a chips-and-salsa binge. Tomato-stained and crumb-covered, Tim hears Squeaky whispering her newest track softly in his ear: Wouldn’t You Rather Be Learning Guitar?
13. How does the main character react in his MOMENT OF WEAKNESS?
Tim picks up his guitar. He does know three chords and he’s met Aimee Mann a couple of times. Maybe THIS is his calling?
14. What MOMENT OF RESILIENCE enables your main character to continue?
After failing to even properly tune the damn thing, Tim realizes he’s got it all wrong. Ed is not possessed. He has given him excellent feedback that strengthened the storyline. Maybe it’s time to re-adjust his goals.
15. What FINAL ACTION CHOICE does your main character take?
Tim decides to use the remainder of his fellowship to focus solely on rewriting his TV Pilot.
16. What is the CLIMAX of the story?
Tim tells Squeaky to take a hike with her toxic negativity. Defeated, Squeaky slinks out his ear, into the bowels of Hollywood, and toward a future career as a reality TV producer.
17. What CHANGE occurs?
Tim is happy with what he accomplished during his excellent 12-week fellowship despite not 100% reaching his stated goals. His instructors and peers have helped bring his work to a new level.
18. What is the RESOLUTION?
Tim submits his rewritten TV Pilot to the Austin Film Festival. He has amazing new friends, mentors and memories that will last a lifetime and is grateful to Final Draft and New York Film Academy for this terrific experience!
Timothy Grant is a screenwriter whose thriller BAIT NIGHT won Best Thriller/Horror Feature in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest, was a Drama and Horror Feature Finalist in the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, and a Top 50 Finalist in the Tracking Board LaunchPad Feature Competition. In addition to screenwriting, Timothy enjoys writing bios in the third person, traveling with his husband, drinking wine with friends, eating three squares a day, getting into unnecessary fights on social media, anthropomorphizing his precious cats Bubble and Squeak and blathering on about the benefits of Crossfit (don’t judge!). Timothy Grant lives in Hollywood and is represented by Ramses IsHak and Michael Sheresky of United Talent Agency. You can read more on Timothy Grant here: https://www.timothygrantwriter.com/