Past Winners 

Demian Kendall 

2017 / Demian Kendall


From an original field of over 950 writers and after four intense writing challenges, Demian Kendall (San Francisco, CA, USA) took home first place in the Short Screenplay Challenge 2017.  In each round of the competition, Demian was challenged to write a short screenplay no longer than 5 pages based on a genre, location, and object assignment in just 48 hours.  Read the screenplays from each of his four challenges below along with an interview about his experience in the 2017 competition.



The Winning Screenplays



"Bad Water" by Demian Kendall (Challenge #1)

LOGLINE: As sea levels continue to rise, a man and a young girl take refuge on a mountaintop golf course outside Las Vegas, hiding from the encroaching water and the creatures below its surface.
ASSIGNMENT: Horror / A golf driving Range / A teapot

LENGTH: 5 pages 




"Third Act" by Demian Kendall (Challenge #2)
LOGLINE: A 70-year old widow is guided through the world of online dating for the elderly by her vodka-swilling friend. Unfortunately, her first match is standing next to her at a Bass Pro Shop.

ASSIGNMENT: Romantic Comedy / A showroom / A pair of mittens

LENGTH: 5 pages 




"A Dying Industry" by Demian Kendall (Challenge #3)
LOGLINE: An overworked intern at a local newspaper is visited by three people who aren't pleased with their obituaries.

ASSIGNMENT: Horror / A newspaper printing press / A plunger

LENGTH: 5 pages 




"Off to Avalon" by Demian Kendall (Challenge #4)
LOGLINE: Facing a bleak future on their planet, a mother and daughter resort to selling and shipping their personal memories to afford a flight to the refuge of Avalon.

ASSIGNMENT: Open / A mail sorting facility / A tooth

LENGTH: 5 pages 




Read the Interview


Congratulations on winning the 9th annual Short Screenplay Challenge! What was the most challenging aspect of the competition for you?  What was the most enjoyable aspect?

Finishing a script is always my most difficult challenge. Every time I think I知 done, that annoying little voice in my head tells me it could be better. I need a deadline to tell me when something is finished and the contest was perfect for that. The most enjoyable part of the competition was definitely the nights the prompts were sent, when anything was possible. It was too early to be judgmental and I loved just getting weird with the prompt for a night and figuring the rest out later.  



You were assigned the Horror genre in the first challenge, Romantic Comedy in the second, Horror again in the third challenge, and chose to write Science Fiction in the final round when you were assigned the Open genre.  Which was your favorite to write during the competition and which was the most challenging?

Horror is my wheelhouse. I love all of it, even the objectively bad stuff. While I really enjoyed writing those two horror scripts, they were difficult for me because I was so critical on myself. Romantic comedy was equally tough, just because love and romance takes time. I challenged myself to let the set pieces carry as much emotional weight as they could. How could I make the setting innately horrifying? How could I make the characters instantly lovable? I think I enjoyed writing my final sci-fi script the most because I wasn稚 forced to grapple as much with those emotions of love and fear. I lucked into a storyline I liked pretty early in the process and just focused on the details.



Knowing that you have just 5 pages to tell your story, do you have a specific approach or outline you use before you start writing or do you prefer to start writing immediately?

I知 a process freak and need to give myself strict guidelines to get anything done. After receiving the prompt, I would toss on some mood-setting music, pour a drink, and fill pages with every idea I could think of, basically until I fell asleep. If I landed on something I liked, I built a basic outline and maybe a few pieces of dialogue. On day two, I would go hit a punching bag in the morning then decide on a direction by the time I got home, spending the rest of the day creating a rough page-by-page outline and writing my first draft. Day three was all editing, rewriting, and revision.



Picture of Demian's Desk

Your desk is amazing!  It seems like an incredibly inspiring workspace and it must have taken hours upon hours to create.  Is it a work-in-progress that you constantly update or did you knock it all out at once?  What does it help you with the most during the writing process?  Do you find that you are less productive if you are writing without your desk?

I知 glad you like it! It makes me feel psychotic sometimes. That desk was the product of two years worth of distractions. It started simply (or stupidly) as a running list of things I liked, sort of an inspiration board. Then I started adding quotes, lists, and other little things that popped into my head until it evolved into its current form. It痴 basically a monument to my procrastination. Luckily, I don稚 feel bound to the desk when I知 writing. I actually wrote each script of the competition in a different location.



Do you have any plans for your screenplays or any other interesting projects coming up?

I have lots of love for these stories and I知 definitely interested in bringing them to life. I知 currently looking at ways to make my final script into an animated short, and am starting to explore two others as longer pieces. I知 also working on making a short film which will hopefully be finished sometime next year. The competition energized me and I want to keep moving!



Will you be back to defend your title in the Short Screenplay Challenge 2018?

Sadly, I will not be returning to the Short Screenplay Challenge this year but I may show up for one of the other NYC Midnight contests in the future. I learned so much from the competition and think that the unique challenges posed by the prompts, the length, and the timeframe really pushed me as a writer. Good luck to all the other writers this year!









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