As always I left for the festival three hours early. I have this thing about being late, but I justify it to myself by saying I’m building in “Getting lost time”. Anyway I got there almost two hours early. The venue this year was at the “Sundance Grill” and that sat next to a very impressive Yacht Club. I sat at the bar for an hour nursing a rum and diet coke and listening to the conversations around the bar while they were finishing up the dining room for the event.
Finally they were done so I picked up my stuff and went in. Apparently there was a second entrance and there were already two people sitting at a table. Each table could seat six people. I picked out what I deemed to be the perfect table and took a seat. The event was sold out so I knew the crowd would grow. I was right.
The only reason I was attending was I had a screenplay in contention to win the “Best Screenplay” award. The title was “The Border”. It was a short screenplay (31 pages) and as it turned out it was in competition with six other finalist. Shorts and features were competing against each other. In the back of my mind I couldn’t see how a short, no matter how good it was, could beat out the features. You could develop the stories, in a lot more detail, in a ninety page feature as opposed to a thirty-one page short.
As it turned out I wound sharing the table with Tim Healy one of the owners of LenScape Media LLC. They are currently producing two of my short scripts with three more in the wings. By now the room was packed with people, some of the folks I knew, but a lot I didn’t.
We got around to the awards presentations. I had already noticed the handout, denoting the categories, only had the films listed nothing about the screenplay competition. I was a little disappointed about that. I listened and clapped as the winners were announced .
I was talking around the table when they announced the “Best Screenplay” award. I truly didn’t expect to win so when they announced my screenplay the first time it didn’t register. Tim pushed me. When they announce it the second time was when I got up and went to the podium and received the award. I had nothing prepared to say, but those who know me know speaking is something I do naturally so it wasn’t a problem. Pictures were taken and greetings were done.
After that a numbers of folks came by the table to congratulate me and I have to say the entire event was handled in a very professional manner. The dining room was large enough for the crowd, but small enough to allow for conversations between tables and it was simple to get up and wander around to the other tables. After seventeen years, the Gulf Coast Film Festival has it down and the restaurant atmosphere was a little less formal. It was a very pleasant evening.
As I was leaving I was pulled aside to be interviewed as a winner of one of the awards. I have to say the young lady conducting the interview was absolutely beautiful by any standard. It lasted about seven to ten minutes and it was recorded. I don’t know who it was for, except for the festival itself. I’d like to see it.
So that was my evening. The venue was great, the company couldn’t have been better and winning that award took me by complete surprise. All that was left was the very long trip home, but having that award sitting beside me, in the front seat, it didn’t seem all that long.
Norman Ray Fitts
Screenwriter and Novelist