After my moderate success in the NYC Midnight Short Story contest, I was tempted to enter the screen writing challenge but as I hadn’t written a screenplay before I decided not to. Then they sent me an email telling me it was the last day to get the early bird discount and my resolve crumbled. I entered.

I was lucky; my assignment genre was Science Fiction. I had to include a character who was a maid and a theme of space tourism; all that gelled into a nice idea. I used Amazon Storywriter to work the script up and sent it off in sure and certain expectation of being eliminated in the first round.

I got through.

I placed third in my heat! My very first screenplay, entered into an international competition, and I got through!

One of the really useful things about NYC Midnight is that your work is judged by three different individuals, and they all give you feedback. It’s good feedback too, as you’ll see below.

Today I get my new assignment. I’m really looking forward to the next challenge. I don’t expect to get any further in the competition but it’s nice to dream…

”Hotel Kali Phor Nia” by Sarah Dixon

WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR SCREENPLAY

Even though the concept is one that has been used before – aliens looking in on humans – this script does a nice job of not making it feel trite or overdone because it focuses on the humans and their conversation much more than the alien analysis of it.  It also helps that Pearl and Mike are so recognizably repetitive and simple – this is not necessarily a reflection of them being “trailer trash,” but simply a fact of them being human.

Pearl and Mike’s relationship is funny. I like when they start moving in different directions. The zoo at the end is a nice reveal.

This is a really cute little script. While the space zoo story is not a new one, the characters are so strong and the twist of Pearl putting on airs and putting their position at risk is really fresh.

WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK

A bit more could be added to the conversation that takes place before they make the decision.  What is the brochure like?  Why is Pearl so keen on leaving?  Is it very common for humans to make this decision?  Even if the answers to these questions were merely hinted at in the beginning, it might help setup what’s to follow a bit more strongly.

You’ve got a class Twilight Zone episode here, but I’d like to challenge you to do more. Move your ending to the middle — and let Pearl and Mike rebel against their circumstances. That will raise the stakes and draw us more deeply into the story.

I think Pearl could be a bit more “active” rather than just being passively rude. The script could use a technical polish for an easier read.