Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Here We Go Again

        I was recently playing around with a new short story, and at the same time I noticed the latest Toronto Star short story contest was coming up.

        I decided to enter the story, for better or worse.

        Although I've never been big on contests, I did enter the Comedy Network's television pitch competition a few years back. I was chosen as one of the five finalists, and did the "live pitch" for a couple producers, two celebrity judges and a live audience of about 50 people. 

        It was not a good experience. 

        First, the amount of time available for the pitch was ridiculously short, seven minutes, with a few minutes of follow up questions from the panel of judges. I had to live or die by the presentation of one short scene from the show, and few minutes to present the concept. I had to recruit friends to perform the excerpt, and a theme song, and spend time and energy rehearsing. Secondly, the first prize was a $5000 "development deal" wherein the Comedy Network would supposedly develop your idea for broadcast. The prize for second place was a T-shirt.

        My health was very poor at that time, and I spent about 50 hours preparing the script, visual designs of the animated characters, and rehearsing. Another 30 or so man-hours of rehearsal were contributed by three very wonderful pals of mine from the improv world, Jane Luk, Gord Oxley and Sarah Buski.

        Long story short, I got a T-shirt.

        I really felt ripped off. All that time an energy and I didn't get so much as a dinner coupon to reward my investment, or all the time my generous friends contributed.

        My show, Dorkwads, was an animated show about a couple of awkward, nerdy computer experts who move into an apartment building inhabited mostly by sexy women. Sound familiar? About a year and a half after the pitch competition, the sit-com Big Bang Theory, about two awkward, nerdy scientists who live across the hall from a sexy gal, debuted and became a smash.

        I could have puked.

        So, as you can imagine, I'm a bit wary of competitions.

        However, the Star contest has a long, positive history, and the time I invested was much less extensive. (In the event that the result is, once again, negative.) Plus, if they don't select it, I can still send it out to other publishers.

        As I mentioned before, this year I'm sending out stories. This will be the first.

        Wish me luck.

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