By Maddison Tebbutt
To aspire to be a part of the film and television industry is a daunting dream. From the outside, the world of film and television is alluring and mysterious. The road to becoming a part of that industry is equally mysterious. There is no yellow brick road you can walk that will guarantee you a spot in a writer’s room, or in a pitch meeting. To add to the mystery, I have heard of so many stories of people just ‘falling into’ filmmaking or tv production. I have struggled to find an answer for how I can become a part of this industry as a writer and before I discovered Open Screenplay, the answer wasn’t clear.
I wrote and directed my own movies through high school and university, all with varying degrees of success. Movies were my world and I couldn’t stop conjuring up ideas. However, at the end of my schooling, I thought it was now time to make my script writing just a hobby and pursue other passions. I needed to be ‘realistic’ about my future. Little did I know what was about to happen. One evening, while scrolling through my social media feed I came across Open Screenplay’s first screenplay competition. The prize of having your screenplay produced no doubt caught my attention, and I thought ‘yeah, I have something I could submit. Why not?”
The next day I dug up an old screenplay I had written years ago, a short horror piece. I tried my best to polish it up and then, without a second’s hesitation, submitted it, not expecting anything to come of it.
Months go by.
And then… an innocent email in my inbox from the founder of Open Screenplay, Khaled. He said he had a few questions about my script and wanted to schedule a video meeting. Curious and confused, I agreed. And then I had the best Skype call of my life.
Accompanied by Emmy awarding winner Jason Bash, Khaled informed me I had won the screenplay competition and my little script was going to brought to life. After picking my jaw up from floor, thanking them profusely, and surprising my parents with the news, I collected my thoughts.
This couldn’t actually be happening. But it was. And it did.
From there, with the help from some of the best script writers in the industry, we began script revisions that would last the next few months. The incredible director was brought on board and my goodness did I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Open Screenplay introduced me to industry professionals who taught me more about writing in those few months than I had learned over the course of my many years of making films. It was some of the most valuable education I have ever received. While it was difficult work, the process of rewriting the script was incredibly rewarding.
When Covid-19 hit and production had to be postponed, it never crossed my mind that this project would fall through. The team that Open Screenplay had put together were some of the most loyal, dedicated, and talented people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Even during the endless lockdowns, ominous uncertainty, and industry collapse, the director, producers, cast, and crew persisted. They have done more for this project than I know, and for that I am so grateful.
And now, shooting has just wrapped. Although I couldn’t make it to set because of travel restrictions, the continuous stream of photos sent to me filled me with joy. My dream had come true and I have Open Screenplay to thank.
Without a doubt, this is one the most incredible things that have happened to me and something that I thought would never happen. Someone gave me my chance in this industry. But not only did they give me a chance, but they gave me support, and education, and a platform to share my ideas with the world.
There are so many other people out there, just like me, who are waiting for their chance and who are worthy of that chance. Open Screenplay is giving them that chance by providing aspiring writers with a screenwriting platform that promotes collaboration and creativity as well as numerous competitions that are free to enter. Open Screenplay is dispelling some of the mystery of this industry and providing an accessible way for diverse voices to have a fighting chance to be heard.
While there is now an incredible amount of instability and uncertainty for those working or aspiring to work in the film and television industry, Open Screenplay is paving a clearer way for aspiring writers. Open Screenplay is laying the foundation for that yellow-brick road and the film and entertainment industry is better because of them.