Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest: Nicolas Pinzon 2017 Feature Diversity Category Winner for El Camino

Final Draft Big Break is celebrating its 20th anniversary! We wanted to share some of the success stories. Meet Nicolas Pinzon, 2017 Feature Diversity Category Winner for El Camino.
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Final Draft Big Break is celebrating its 20th anniversary! We wanted to share some of the success stories. Meet Nicolas Pinzon, 2017 Feature Diversity Category Winner for El Camino.

Nicolas is a Colombian-American writer and director who specializes in narratives about outcasts and the marginalized. At 11-years-old, Nicolas and his family left Colombia under a direct threat from guerrilla group, FARC, and settled west of Miami where Nicolas soaked in the culture. As a survivor of the war on drugs, an immigrant, and a person with a mild case of cerebral palsy, Nicolas is committed to telling stories about diverse underdogs who challenge the way we think about each other.In 2018, Nicolas' feature screenplay, El Camino, won Final Draft's Big Break diversity category and was a top 8 finalist for the overall prize. His screenplays have also reached: the finals of the Alfred P. Sloan Grant, the semifinals of the Humanitas Carol Mendelsohn Drama Fellowship, and the semifinals of the Academy Nicholl Fellowship, among others.His short film, Beyond Goldenhill, which he wrote and directed, premiered at the Weyauwega International Film Festival in 2015 to strong reviews.

Why did you decide to enter Big Break with all the other contests out there?

I researched online and most forums said that The Nicholl, Austin, and The Big Break were the most serious competitions out there. So I applied to all three that year. My script made the semifinals of The Nicholl, won the Big Break Diversity Category, but only made it to the second round of Austin. You never know, your script might be a hit in one competition and a total bust in another.

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What has happened to your screenwriting career since your advancement in the contest?

Winning The Big Break’s Diversity Category has been the best thing that has happened to my career, so far. I signed with Markus Goerg of Heroes and Villains, and he has been an amazing manager. He has sent me on a ton of meetings and I’ve met some really cool execs. Hopefully something will come of those meetings soon.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering their scripts in contests?

Rewrite. Finish that first draft, let a few people you trust read it and give you their objective opinions, sit on those opinions for a bit and then rewrite. Writing is definitely rewriting. It’s proofreading, too.

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What advice do you have for contest-winning writers to take the most advantage of that success?

Put yourself out there. Don’t wait for things to happen to you. I think that has been my biggest mistake since I won. I’ve sort of just waited for things to come out of meetings. I’m taking a much more proactive approach now. I’m going to as many events as I can, applying to fellowships, and trying to make use of the contacts I’ve made in the industry. It’s tough out there but I’m feeling optimistic.

Tips for meeting executives?

Be yourself, but be conscious of who that “yourself” is. Are you from a particular place in the world? Sell that. Are you a minority? Sell that. Do you have an interesting relationship with your family? Sell that. Know who you are and play into it so that it is obvious to other people. Only you can be you.

What's the biggest mistake writers make when entering contests?

Waiting till the last minute to look over their script and make changes. If you start that rewrite four days before the final deadline, you’re bound to leave a few typos in there or make changes you might not like the next time you read your script. You’ll also pay a higher rate for a late entry, so plan ahead.

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