What is there to write about? And, why? How do you write a whole existence of worth that hasn’t already been written?
Just as there is not a single birth of a new human soul that is the same as another, neither are the lives of any two individuals!
Does such a simple truth blow your mind? Mine, too!
The theme for the 2016 168 Write of Passage, 12-page screenplay competition was, “The Love of the Father.” The scripture provided by 168 for spiritual inspiration was Proverbs 3:12 (NKJV):
“For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father, the son, in whom he delights.”
Before we dive into my case of creative action, let’s first clarify the coordination of the contest, shall we?
Screenwriters from across the nation have 168 hours, i.e. one week, to develop a Treatment for a short film, and then complete a full 12-page screenplay (no more and no less) grounded by the given theme.
To all my fellow writers out there, you know how difficult a deadline for creativity can be, especially when you have a full-time job, pressing family affairs, and other demanding creative projects that require your attention all at the same time. Our daily grind is quite the expert in presenting a multitude of distractions that eat away at your contemplation, adoration, and the time for the GOLDEN GIFT of SILENCE which is required to focus on that one specific goal—your writing.
What makes this 168-challenge unique to writers and filmmakers?—the fortuity to be mentored by your designated first-round Judge, who is also an established and successful Hollywood screenwriting professional and insider, hereon in, referred to as a Development Executive (DE).
What is the grand prize? $1000.00 (first prize), Inktip.com listing of your featured script, Hollywood introductions and, options for your film to be produced through the 168 Film Festival as a Write of Passage spotlight film. (Learn more here.)
For starters, my intent was to go for the gold! Whereas, the grand prize may hold keys to open new doors to one’s career, my desire, more essentially, is to grow in my craft, and develop a great story. Under superlative guidance (with trust) from my assigned DE, my story will honor our humanity and address deeply the causation behind human behavior and private choices—a strong story that I would personally be inspired to produce, direct, and enjoy watching!
Okay! It’s Day 1. GO!
I ask myself again, “What is there to write about? What do I know? What have I learned? How can I make a difference?”
Day 4! Still no Treatment! Oh, my Lord! “Cutting it close, aren’t you, Apolonia?” I ask myself, “Why are you even competing?”
“Are you having a tough week? Yes!”
“Are you the only one with trials to bear? No!”
I immediately turn to the person that knows me better than I know myself for encouragement. I employ direction from my personal Spiritual Director—my mother—for help! God bless her words of wisdom.
What was my epiphany? Imagination holds endless originality, because with God, there is no end; and with God, there is meaning in all things. I just must surrender. I, the writer, must listen to the lessons that are speaking to me from my life, and even what I’ve shared with others.
That night, I put the world on hold and stopped to listen. I heard from the Lord, “Turn to Me! Pray about it! Go to bed! Wake up and, GET TO WORK!”
God has a reputation for works that showcase the mystery of His mercy, but in this case, He was very direct! *Laughing*
Day 5! Treatment submitted! Amen! Draft 1 begins! Received prompt feedback from my DE and advised to re-write initial Treatment.
Day 6! Treatment submission number two goes through. Victory!
Back to the script. “Keep writing, Apolonia. It’s not over yet!”
Draft 1 of LISTEN (working title) submitted! “AMEN!”
LOGLINE: Bruised by the double edge sword of losing a life and saving another, two lonely children discover a new family.
Day 7! Feedback received! Much to edit and apply.
“How am I going to do this? My job beckons?”
“Prioritize, Apolonia! Then at lunch, re-launch and, GET IT DONE!”
I ask you, my fellow reader, have you ever gotten a sweat in a sedentary position? (The bicycle does not count. Hehe.) My heart was racing to cross the finish line, to value and apply my DE’s direct and profound advice, to defend and honor my characters, and then, meet this final deadline!
DONE! Twelve pages. The “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” all vested-on paper in PDF format. There’s no going back now! BREATHE!
Wahoo!!! I’m exhausted, but I’m happy! The rest is in God’s hands. Time to get back to work, go home, and sleep!
I know what you’re wondering, my dear, beloved reader. Did I win? Is that the point?
My honest answer is “no” and “NO!”
I did eventually read the “winning script” of the competition. And, I can honestly say that I’m still very proud of my final submission. So much so, I’m looking forward to going back into the writing room, applying some additional feedback, and transforming LISTEN from script to screen! Because of competing in the 2016 168 Write of Passage Screenplay Competition, my next film production has been born! I gave myself the creative outlet to pursue my passion for writing, and also completing a solid story (with a fresh perspective, and as a more learned film director and editor). In such a short amount of time, I learned and grew immensely as a writer and as a person. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a week. Let alone, in my case, a weekend!
Life is funny. And I’m going to continue laughing and powering through! *Laughs*
About this Contributor
Apolonia Davalos (AEA/ WIFT-Nashville and TWIFM Member) is a film and Off-Broadway theater director and actress. She is named after APPOLLONIA, an ancient, biblical town, in Macedonia, Greece, south of Lake Bolbe, known today as Nea Apollonia. Hence, she was born with a passion for God and love of history! Her upcoming short, modern-western film, Children of War, debuted through the film festival circuit in 2016. She is the Co-Writer and Co-Star of the online radio broadcast “The Baby Shug’s Show!” As an actor, her feature film credits include: “The Good Book” (on DVD), “Providence” (recently released in select AMC Theatres), “The Perfect Wedding” (on DVD), etc. In theater, she received great acclaim for the originated role of LYNN CORDERO in the Off-Broadway production of Looking for Billy Haines in Times Square (NYC). Other theater credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Metamorphoses (The Boston Actors Theater): The Crucible (Salem Theatre Company); and Sisters of the Church (Afrikan Women’s Repertory Theatre). She is further recognized as a producer, director, writer, as well as an inspiring advocate for classical Greek theater through her production company APOLONIAD Productions. Known for her hearty laugh, talent for accents, love for martial arts, and singing classic 1930’s tunes! “Apolonia Davalos is a passionate, young director dedicated to exploring the plays of Euripides. As a member of a generation used to reading no more than 140 characters at a time, her devotion to a classical poet is worthy of tremendous admiration.” – Show Business Weekly.
*The article, Woman In Film: Writing On Purpose, With Purpose & Laughing About It, first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).