If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’

By John Metcalfe (far right above) whose script, Bicycle, which he co-wrote with Edward Hicks, was a finalist for the 2016 IMDB Script to Screen Award.

The old adage: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ could have been written with me in mind.

Having written my first spec script at the age of 15, here I was 40 years later still dutifully honing my craft and entering as many screenplay competitions as possible – more in hope than any great expectation.

Throughout those long years all I had to show for my blood, sweat and (many) tears was a runner up place in a national competition in 1985. That was, as it turned out, a blessing as it introduced me to my writing partner Edward Hicks who was then a young actor.

It was Edward who emailed me the link to the 2016 IMDb Script to Screen Award and suggested I dig out an old short we had worked on over the years called ‘Bicycle’ and submit it to the competition.

It may be a cliché but quite honestly I had forgotten all about it, so imagine my surprise when the email from Holly popped into my inbox to say we had been shortlisted.

In fact I had to read the email several times before it sunk in. Yes, this was me. Shortlisted for a prestigious award. Unbelievable!

There was no way I wasn’t going to take advantage even though it meant a long haul down from Leeds and an overnight stay in Bath before the long haul back.

Having met up with an equally delighted Edward, we made our way to Komedia where we enjoyed what must go down as one of the most thrilling evenings of our lives.

From the initial welcome from Holly to the first photo call with our fellow finalists, the stage was set.

Bicycle was first up, and to hear our words read so superbly by the four talented young drama students was an absolute delight. Going up on stage afterwards was nerve-wracking, but Holly was great and Edward is an old hand at that kind of thing so I was pleased he took the lead.

Each of the shortlisted scripts offered something different and it was a pleasure to share our fellow finalists’ joy at seeing their work performed.

After the interval the judges gave their verdicts. Edward and I were thrilled by the positive feedback on ‘Bicycle’ offered by Ashley Pharoah. However, Amanda Richardson fully deserved the plaudits for her script ‘Dig’ which the audience also voted as their favourite.

One of the highlights was having time to chat to the young students, our fellow finalists (who were all brilliant) and the wonderful judges who gave us fantastic encouragement.

I am still buzzing from the experience. It has given me a new belief in my writing. I just hope I don’t have to wait quite as long to repeat the elation this ‘success’ has brought me.