I arrived at the beautiful Komedia with the typical mixed broth boiling inside of me – excitement, apprehension and a sprinkle of nerves. Excitement at the privilege of having my work chosen for such an event, but with the nerves and apprehension at the thought of everyone being really bored and bemused when my script, “Sheep Dog”, is read out. You half expect to turn up and for someone to pull you aside, saying “Sorry Mr. Watkins but there’s been a terrible administrative error. That thing you wrote didn’t really get shortlisted”.
The lovely air of excitement, support and genuine curiosity I found when I stepped into the building soon allayed my fears. Compered by the brilliant Ali Vowles, she gave the night such a smooth, professional flow. All of the judges were so interesting and engaging from the off, so many words of wisdom and fascinating points of view.
Then came the other scripts, all brilliant. The witty, hilarious, satirical comedy “The Painting” by Steve Brehm. The simple, smart, silent film inflected “Switch Me Off” by Elliot Jackson. The razor-sharp, awesomely constructed and genuinely spooky “Can You Hear Me?” by Sean Healy. Then the brilliant black comedy “To Die For” by Janni Harrison. They were all unique and singular visions with great stories, written beautifully. I can genuinely say that I was in awe of the quality my script was up against, but honoured to be in such tip-top company.
Every reading was beautifully interpreted and performed by the students from Bath Spa University. I found it so magical and surreal to have my work performed by such talented people – a true honour. Then of course the writers had to go on stage and talk about their work! How cruel, I thought. We’re used to sitting in rooms scribbling and over-thinking things – not public speaking! But it was such a fun experience, giving all of us an opportunity to explain our work. I really cherished the chance to engage with an audience like that.
“Can You Hear Me?” was such a worthy 1st place winner – it felt in many ways like a clever translation of elements from many classic ghost stories that I know and love into a modern setting – really benefiting from a particularly well thought-out structure. “To Die For”, in second place, was so smart, getting what felt like the biggest laughs from the crowd in some of its hilarious comedic moments. Janni Harrison spoke really eloquently about her piece and its inspirations as well – another worthy winner. I loved both of them and cannot wait to see the finished films.
All in all an amazing night – so many nice conversations and compliments from people about my own script. I will always remember and cherish the feedback given on my script by the judges (a comparison to my writing being like Dennis Potter’s by Ashley Pharaoh absolutely had me dancing inside). Being such a shy-pie, I didn’t pluck up the courage to chat to all of the other contestants – but I do hope I’ve remedied that with my write-up. They were truly all terrific, impressive screenplays.
Holly Tarquini puts on a mean evening! Even if I don’t submit or get shortlisted – I can’t wait to attend next year.