2016 / Teresa Bass

      

From an original field of over 750 writers, Teresa Bass (pictured left) took home first place through four rounds of intense writing!  In each round of the competition, she was challenged to write a short screenplay no longer than 5 pages based on a genre, location, and object assignment in just 48 hours.

 

   

The Neomonster by Teresa Bass (Mystery, 5 pages) - A little girl tries to uncover a mysterious monster amidst the tumult of memories tucked away in the flooded family basement.

  

Do Robots Drink Wine? by Teresa Bass (Romantic Comedy, 5 pages) - An old robot discovers its not the only settler on this new planet, but its curiosity might destroy its opportunity to make a new friend.

  

The Great Wish Machine by Teresa Bass (Romantic Comedy, 5 pages) - A worker at the Global Wish Fulfilment Centre must save the Great Wish Machine from destruction when her wish for companionship accidentally gets submitted.

  

Love After the Apocalypse: A Helpful 'How To' Guide by Teresa Bass (Comedy, 5 pages) - A desperate young woman seeking post-apocalyptic companionship.

   

Congratulations on winning the 8th annual Short Screenplay Challenge!   It looks like this was your first NYC Midnight competition (if not, our apologies).  How was your experience being forced to write assigned prompts under time constraints? 

  

It was indeed my first NYC Midnight competition. I signed up specifically for the challenge of writing to assigned prompts under time constraints, but I admit that it wasn’t easy. Each time one of the rounds came up, I had scheduling conflicts. But that ended up forcing me to just jump in, rather than stew about which idea was the best or how to write that first line.

 

What was the most challenging aspect of the competition for you?  What was the most enjoyable aspect?

 

The most challenging aspect of the competition was, in some ways, the most enjoyable: getting the prompt and then forcing myself to go beyond the first few ‘obvious’ ideas to something more original. I ended up creating a process for myself where I said, “okay, what does this immediately make me think of?” and then throwing out the first couple answers. Then I followed up with, “what’s the weirdest possible thing I can imagine doing with this prompt that has nothing to do with those answers?” or “what’s the total opposite of those answers?” And thus the scripts were born. These kinds of prompts and competitions are such a great place to play, because you’re forced to come up with things that never would have occurred to you otherwise. There’s no option but to take chances.

 

You were assigned the Mystery genre in the first challenge, Romantic Comedy in the second and third challenges, and chose to write a Comedy in the final round when you were assigned the Open genre.  Which was your favorite to write during the competition and which was the most challenging?

 

I absolutely hated getting ‘mystery’ in the first round because I had just competed in the 48 Hour Film Festival and my group had received ‘mystery’. I nearly threw in the towel right there! And then to get ‘romantic comedy’ twice gave me a whole new urge to table-flip. But each round I looked at the conventions for the genre I’d received and thought about how I could do something unexpected. I think the final script was the most enjoyable to write, though I admit I didn’t really know what genre it was going to be when I sat down to write it. I just wrote the strangest thing I could imagine, read it through and said to myself, “well, I think this is a comedy…”

 

It appears you are our first competition winner from New Zealand!  There have been a lot of amazing films that have come out of New Zealand in recent years and the natural beauty of the landscape seems to attract a lot of Hollywood blockbusters.  Do you notice that the film industry in New Zealand has been growing steadily over the years?  How is the independent film scene? 

 

Aww yuss! Go New Zealand! (Full disclosure: I’m an American living in New Zealand since 2009.) There’s an amazing film industry here, and the environment is great both for nurturing homegrown talent and for attracting artists from overseas. I’m probably not the best person to speak to how the industry is growing and evolving (better to talk to the New Zealand Film Commission about that one!). I can say, from my perspective, there are amazing resources and opportunities for young filmmakers, and there’s a lot of pride in our films and our talent and the impact both are having around the world.

 

Do you have any plans for your screenplays or any other interesting projects coming up?

 

I’d love to find a producer, director and team for my final round script, so I’m working on that here in Wellington at the moment. I’m also developing my slate of feature projects, but nothing is far enough along to really promote.

 

Will you be back to defend your title in the Short Screenplay Challenge 2017?

 

I hadn’t thought about it as defending a title; it feels like way too much pressure now! In all seriousness, I really enjoyed my experience, so it’s very possible. I feel like I came out of the competition a better writer, and I have a new project that I’d like to produce. Wins all ‘round!

 

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