If someone said they’d pay you to write a feature-length script in 30 days, could you do it? Screenwriter Kaylord Hill is about to find out!
Kaylord won SoCreate’s Screenwriter Stimulus in late November. The grand prize includes $1,000 per week for each week in December, as long as he can complete 20-30 pages of a new screenplay every seven days. He’ll also have to film twice-weekly vlogs to keep the writing community updated on his progress, challenges, successes, and other screenwriting thoughts.
We hosted a similar contest last year, where the winner Zachary Rowell had 90 days to write a feature. But this year, we upped the ante. We’re here to help, after all, and that means pushing writers to do what they may not do on their own, just to show other screenwriters that it’s possible!
So, follow along over the next 30 days as Kaylord does just that – pushes himself to write a 90-120-page screenplay in only 30 days. You’ll learn a lot along the way, and hey, maybe you’ll even give this a go yourself!
“Hey guys, it’s Kaylord Hill, this year’s SoCreate Screenwriter Stimulus winner. First of all, I just want to say a big thank you to all my friends, all my family, all the new people I’ve met in the writing community that have shown their support – tweeted, IG’d, Facebooked about me – I really appreciate it. To SoCreate: Hey, I’ve been pestering you guys for a year, so thank you for the vote of confidence and the opportunity to continue to get better and work on my craft. To all the writers that were in the top 25 that participated in the contest, I’m a living witness. You may not win it one year, you may fail at something one year, but if you’re bold enough – and, let me be honest, I stopped writing for two months after I lost, I was heartbroken – but, you’ve got to see it through. Because that’s what writers do, we’ve got to see it through. We’ve got to write in “fade to black,” so we’ve got to see it through.
A little bit about me, though. So, I’m from Louisiana. I went to college in Minnesota. Post-graduation from college is when I got interested in movies and film, and I got interested in terms of how do movies get made? How does someone go about writing a movie if they decided to? And so, after about five years of exploring and experimenting, in 2018, I got into the University of North Carolina School of the Arts MFA program. This is where I met some of the most talented and now emergent screenwriters and producers in my cohort.
The first semester, the first couple of months of film school, was tough for me. I didn’t have a foundation. So, I had to really scrap to sort of catch up with everyone. But now, it’s two years later, and, especially going into this process, I have about two to three things that I normally do now to prepare to write a script.
First thing’s first: I have to read. I think writing and reading are synonymous. I don’t know if you can really do one without the other. But that’s me. That’s my process. So, for this time around, I’ve been reading “This Is How You Lose Her,” by Junot Díaz. It’s a story about a guy who meets a girl, and he’s trying to get it right. Inevitably, he doesn’t, and this is how you lose her. That’s the title. So, in my story, I wanted to read something that was obviously love-oriented. I’m writing a black romantic comedy-slash-leaning into a drama. So, I describe it as “Love Jones” meets “Silver Linings Playbook.” We’re going to see how we can merge those worlds and make them work. So, I definitely read a lot.
The second thing I do is I read a lot of scripts. I think if you’re an up and coming screenwriter, if you’re trying to figure out how the greats do it or how do people write – people who get their scripts bought – what are they doing that I’m not doing? So, I think reading scripts, especially scripts from movies you haven’t seen or TV shows you haven’t seen, I think it’s important. So, probably in the last two years, I’ve read 150-175 scripts. I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little. But I really try to read a lot of scripts.
And then the last thing I do is I try to come into a screenplay or a script with a question – a question to investigate. So, this particular question that I’m investigating is, how can – and it’s kind of all over the place, so, forgive me – but if someone decided that they wanted to throw the grieving process on its head, right, so people say it’s five steps, seven steps, 12 steps to grieving, so if two people decide they are going to team up and throw those steps of grief on its head and decided they were going to do something alternative, what would that look like? One of my close friends in the production program, who was my roommate, we had a really great conversation about how people grieve and what’s that like? And, how can we put that on the page and make it comedic and make it fun and make it light and then somehow get these two on the road to falling in love? And so, that’s what my script’s about.
The process is going really well. I feel really confident. Next week we’ll do a little tour of my writing hub.