Webster University alumnus Trevor Harris received the grand prize for the television pilot-drama section in the 2013 New York Screenplay competition. He said the idea for his screenplay just came to him.
“I get all my ideas for scripts in the weirdest ways,” Harris said. “It just pops in my head, and I just write it down.”
Harris said he began writing his award-winning screenplay, “All or Nothing,” during his senior year at Webster. He said he finished the draft in just a few days. Harris then sent his work to his friends and peers for feedback.
“It’s pretty easy for people to fall into a pattern where they say ‘oh I’ll rework it and make it perfect before I send it out to the world,’ and it’s a vicious cycle because how long is it going to sit on the desk? You could be passing up opportunities,” Harris said. “Throw it in the world, do something with it. Don’t just let it sit there, let other people read it, get feedback and make your product stronger or your art, just don’t let it sit there gaining dust.”
Harris said the competition has allowed him to advance his career and showcase his talent. Harris now has the opportunity to work with a fellow Webster alum.
Harris said he didn’t find out he won the award until his phone received an unusually high amount of notifications during a film shoot. His past professor and mentor, Bart Baker, relayed the information to another Webster professor, Joe Schuster, who tagged Harris in a Facebook status about the award.
The first comment on the Facebook status was from Harris. His comment read, “Whoa!! When did this happen!!” Followed by, “I had no idea.”
Baker said: “I’ve been doing this for 30 years as a writer, and I’m just thrilled for him. It’s great. You get very little feedback, especially positive feedback. And so, it’s really good for him at this stage in the game as he’s beginning his career to just get that thought that says ‘Yeah dude, you are really good’ because he is, and it’s great to acknowledge that and to recognize that. And for someone like him, it’ll only make him work harder.”
Harris said winning the award seemed unreal. The New York Screenplay Contest was one of two scriptwriting competitions to which he submitted his screenplay. Harris said his friends told him it is the best script he has written. Harris, however, just knew he had to submit something.
“I had absolutely nothing to lose besides my 40 bucks that I put into the competition,” Harris said. “And here it is eight months later opening up opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t do that.”
Harris’ winning screenplay “All or Nothing,” is about a bookie in Chicago who tries to run a business while cops and criminals attempt to shut it down. All while supporting his family and his son, who is a division one college quarterback.
Harris was granted free entry into the 2014 screenplay contest, which he plans to enter. He also received screenwriting software, but he already owns the industry standard of the software.
Harris started writing again the day after he found out he won the contest and has since continued to write.
Baker said when Harris says something, he means it. Baker said by winning the contest, Harris is 90 percent ahead of other people trying to make a career in Hollywood.
“When I broke into the business it was much easier than breaking in now,” Baker said. “That’s a fact. So what Trevor’s facing as compared to a lot of what I faced, his mountains are higher. It’s just a simple fact. It’s a harder business for a lot of reasons. So you have to have a plan.
“When you have a plan and you’re willing to do the hard work, which he is, then I would like to have stock in this guy because I know he’ll do well. I would like to have stock in Trevor because I think that his stock is going to rise.”
The other contest Harris entered “All or Nothing” in has not yet notified him of the results. But Harris said he is happy to have received any recognition.
“It’s just a surreal experience,” Harris said.