Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Q and A: BSSC Semi-Finalist Eleanor Tucker

I've been getting a lot of traffic to this site from people searching for info on the British Short Script Competition, which I mentioned in this post back in April. It's always good to get some insider info on any script competition, especially those with a fee - you want to know it's worth parting with your hard earned cash! As it happens one of my script reading clients, Eleanor Tucker, recently reached the semi-finals of BSSC so I asked Eleanor a few questions about her experience with the competition. Eleanor is based in Edinburgh and currently has a short script in development with Fluid Eye Productions and her two minute short script was just produced by The London Film Academy. You can find out more about Eleanor or get in touch here. 

Q. What prompted you to enter your script, 'Something Unforeseen', to the competition?

A. It was actually the first competition I’ve ever entered. I’d heard the BSSC mentioned on Shooting People and a couple of other screenwriting websites and I thought I’d look into it. It appealed because there was no restriction on genre and they seemed pretty organised. The competition has got some high profile sponsors, plus the top prize is getting your film made, which is a pretty attractive prospect to a rookie writer like me.

Q. Did your write your script specifically for the competition?

A. Kind of. An anecdote my husband told me gave me the idea for it, and this was around the same time I saw the competition advertised. The two things just sort of combined. I like working to a deadline and the closing date provided me with just the incentive I needed to sit down and write it. I was also looking for a break between drafts of my feature.

Q. What’s the script about?

A. It’s a drama about a woman who’s trying to leave her husband. Things don’t go according to plan, to say the least. I wanted it to be about moments of clarity. And how sometimes fate – if you believe in it – can behave in mysterious ways. The story is told backwards. I like mucking about with structure because it can create a very different kind of suspense.

Q. Do you think the entry fee was justified?

A. The competition is well organised with an informative website and high-profile judges, so I think it’s fair enough to contribute to the administration. Which, with the amount of entries, must be a nightmare.

Q. When - and how - did you find out you’d got through to the first round?

A. Later than I expected, July I think. It was a reasonable wait having got my script in for the early deadline in April. I think they had more entries than ever this year, about two thousand. I found out I’d got through to the first round just by checking the website (which I’ve done quite a lot of over the last six months!). Kaos Films (the production company that produces the winners) also send out a newsletter reasonably regularly that keeps you informed of when they’ve posted each round’s qualifiers on the website. It also has news of previous winners, for example if they’ve started filming or won at a particular festival.

Q. And how many rounds are there altogether?
A. This year there were three rounds, then the semifinals. The qualifiers for each round were announced about every four to six weeks. In their newsletters, the organisers kept apologising for the delays, so I think a few people were complaining. I was just really excited and couldn’t believe it when I kept seeing my script listed at each stage.

Q. How many people got through to the semi-finals?

A. About 60. Then there was a wait of about ten days until the finalists were announced on the 13th November. I wasn’t too disappointed I didn’t get through to the final because I was just so pleased to reach the semis.

Q. Were there prizes for semi-finalists?
A. No. My husband bought me a bottle of bubbly, though...

Q. What are you doing with your script now?

A. I posted a pitch for it on Shooting People last week and I’ve had some interest already. I’m hoping it will appeal as it’s a good length (ten minutes) and low budget in terms of location. Oh, OK, I’ll admit it – I think it’s a good story too…

Q. Will you be entering the competition again next year?
A. Probably, yes. It's been quite fun but I suppose that's maybe slightly to do with the fact I got to the semis!

Q. What do you feel you've gained from getting through to the semis?
A. It's a good calling card for my script. And I think it's given me a bit of validation about what I'm doing, which helps enormously when you're just starting out.

Q. Finally, would you recommend this as a good competition for new writers?
A. Definitely. Although there are a lot of entries it's pretty high profile and I don't think it breaks the bank, either.


Many thanks to Eleanor for sparing your time to answer these questions. Congratulations again on reaching the semis, and good luck with Something Unforeseen and your other projects!

The blogger gremlins are nothing if not idiosyncratic. This post wouldn't publish while it contained the ampersand...

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