The Bad Newz is a finalist in its first screenplay contest
“Write what you know.” It’s an old adage successful, veteran writers often impart to the next generation of scribes trying to break through. I’ve tried to follow it over the years in part — tying knowledge of a profession or place or certain sorts of people into my fiction, while exploring fantasy or near-future parts unknown.
But for my TV pilot script The Bad Newz, I took the cliched writerly nugget of wisdom 100% literally. The Bad Newz is a fictionalized account of life for teenagers in 1990s Newport News, Virginia, where I grew up. It draws entirely from my experiences and the experiences of friends. In fact, three of my best friends for going on three decades consulted with me on the script and I consider them co-creators. What we’ve come up with is a more multicultural Atlanta, or perhaps Stranger Things but set in the ’90s and the monster they can’t escape is poverty.
Aside from the fact that it feels cathartic to revisit the time and place that shaped me, it’s interesting — and very exciting — that swallowing the “write what you know” lesson whole resulted in The Bad Newz earning a Finalist nod in the very first screenwriting competition in which it was entered: The Wiki Screenplay Contest.
I’ve only entered The Bad Newz into a couple of small contests to get a sense of professional views on it. I’m still fine-tuning the script with my co-creators before unleashing it onto the contest circuit. But I am overwhelmingly happy and excited about the result in the Wiki contest. Fingers crossed that this is the start of The Bad Newz going places.
Here are all the results from the Wiki contest, including The Bad News and Happy Jack (read more below).
More Accolades for Happy Jack
Since The Wiki Screenplay Contest included TV and feature-length contest categories, I went ahead and entered Happy Jack as well. Lo and behold, Happy Jack came away with a Semifinalist recognition, it’s highest to date. For those keeping score at home, Happy Jack has earned honorable mention nods from the Santa Barbara International Screenplay Contest and Changing Face International Film Festival and now the Semifinalist award from Wiki.
Happy Jack is the reluctant superhero flick Hancock meets the mythic southern storytelling of Big Fish. When Jack Hazelwood, a misanthropic hermit with a special power to make people happy, is drawn out of hiding by a charlatan doctor, he’s forced to confront humanity, greed and love in New Orleans.