You know, you enter a bunch of screenwriting competitions in hopes of getting within earshot of a producer, director, or manager who shares your vision and is willing to help make your project a reality.
And that’s why I shot the moon on the 2023 Circus Road Films Screenplay Contest and sent them three of my best scripts.
Yeah, I know, overkill.
But (he said convincingly) ya gotta understand …
These folks have made some seriously cool movies with some pretty big stars including Adrienne Brody, David Koechner, David Cross, America Ferrera, Bruce Campbell, Julia Styles, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart, Matthew Lillard, Keegan-Michael Key, Zooey Deschanel, Adam Scott, Adam Beach, Bradley Cooper, Tantoo Cardinal, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, and many others. Check out Circus Road’s very cool flicks here: www.circusroadfilms.com.
I can personally recommend the films Tinker, Bernard & Huey, Grace, and It’s A Disaster as my favs of theirs. But, to be fair, I haven’t yet seen My Dead Dad, Clean, and 18-1/2, all of which I’m looking forward to viewing.
Until last year, I’d never heard their contest named when people would mention other top screenplay competitions like Austin Film Festival and Nicholl, possibly because Circus Road is a production company and not just a contest, which is a shame. But maybe it’s also the best kept secret in the screenwriting world. Shh!
I wish more production companies of all sizes, major to micro, would hold competitions that resulted in a completed film. It would be good for the industry, for moviegoers, as well as for screenwriters.
All that is to say, no, I did not win this year’s competition.
Caitlin Tate was the Grand Prize Winner with the entry In Dust We Trust.
But, I did manage to place … and place at the highest level(s) I’ve attained since I began entering screenplay competitions three-ish years ago.
I was genuinely shocked when I opened my email while doing some work this fine Michigan Sunday evening and saw an email from FilmFreeway stating that my screenplay Family Records was a finalist.
My first finalist finish!
But when I clicked out to check some other messages, I found another FilmFreeway message pop into my box …
My script I Hate You Moore was also a finalist!
Wait. Typo much? No, I really placed as a finalist with two scripts.
Not just my first finalist placement but my first two in the same competition.
That’s when I knew the Universe was fugging with me.
Welcome to F-bomb country.
[“Fugg” is the word that ruined Mailer’s The Naked and The Dead for me. Shame. Could’ve otherwise been a good novel.]
In a bit of a daze—hey, writers don’t get much good news, and writers like me do not handle joy well at all—I clicked out of that message to find …
Oh, come on, man.
My screenplay FRENZ was an honorable mention. I’m not really sure how that fits in the rankings but it’s nice to know.
What does it all mean?
Other than some warm fuzzies and an excuse to have a beer on a Sunday night? I think it means my stuff was good enough to be considered by some folks who’ve made some seriously cool movies. People who care about art as much as entertainment.
And that’s pretty cool.
Now I just have to come up with something fuggin’ amazing to submit for next time.
See the full list of finalists and honorable mentions in CR’s press release below:
Circus Road Films is pleased to announce the Winners for the Circus Road Screenplay Contest. In order to choose the Grand Prize and Honorable Mention winners, there are three rounds to the contest. We appreciate everyone’s submissions! Congratulations to everyone for their great work!
Honorable Mention Winners
- A Very Marinucci Christmas by Kendra Spatacco, Frank Spatacco
- FREEYOURSELF: A PTSD STORY by Kelly LaCombe
- FRENZ by Benjamin J. Gohs
- Ladykiller by Brian W Smith
- The Family Secret by Alix Lindbergh
Circus Road Finalists
- Call Me Thor by Jamie Campbell
- Cathedrals on the Warm Surface by Colin Dodds
- Do Unto Others by Joseph Michael Leone
- Duello by Phil O’Dell
- Family Records by Benjamin J. Gohs
- Getting Metaphysical by David Hunter Fein
- Guffy by Will Berry
- I Hate You Moore by Benjamin J. Gohs
- Love in the Time of Coronavirus by (unspecified)
- Maeta’s Story by Charles DeRykus
- Next Rest Area by Chicago Thomas
- Strife by George Hellas
- The Last Skywriter in the Universe by Steven Keith Bogart