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Our feedback, and what you think of it.

Printed From: NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting
Category: GENERAL DISCUSSION
Forum Name: Screenwriting Bar & Lounge
Forum Description: Discuss NYC Midnight Screenwriting Competitions or Screenwriting in general.
URL: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=19870
Printed Date: 17 Jan 2019 at 2:58pm
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Topic: Our feedback, and what you think of it.
Posted By: Suave
Subject: Our feedback, and what you think of it.
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2019 at 11:13am
R2 G2 Horror

The judges seem to want a whole lot more from me, and in only 5 pages to boot.  The liked seemed upbeat, the not so much really went into detail, but they seem to want so much out of the script.  I was aiming at the B market horror, guess they don't watch any of that.  Next time!

''NEVER WALK WILLINGLY INTO THE LIGHT''  -   WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - {1836}  The rules are clear and the reveal is communicated well.  {1772}  The screenplay has active and vivid writing that helps to create each scene in the reader's mind.  {1688}  The tension in the first half of the script is palpable, and you've created a fully fledged and detailed atmosphere and setting. The underlying theme of your script - being trapped in your own body and knowing what happens after death before you die - is really a fantastic horror subject to explore. It's so accessible and understood by everyone, any audience will be afraid of that and wonder what is coming for them upon their passing. You've chosen a great clay to mould from.

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - {1836}  There isn't a lot of conflict.  Try exploring ways for Mike to try and overcome his situation instead of just helplessly succumbing to it.  The stakes don't seem very high because the black void out right tells you what awaits Mike.  Teasing that out could also help raise the tension.  {1772}  It is unclear why Mike is the one being punished, when the other men seem to be more devious and deserving. Developing Mike from the beginning might help. Is he a "good" person? Has he done anything in his life that he regrets? Is there anyway to escape the black circle? Giving a little more about his inner needs and conflict might help shape his character a little more for the reader.  {1688}  This almost feels like two completely different films, the fraternity initiation and the death of Mike. This disjointed feel is added to by the black circle, which fails to be foreboding and simply feels like an overly simplistic method of depicting the notion of Hell. The anticipation and tense mood of the first half melted away during the second, and the mother collapsing on her son as he dies felt cliche and unnecessary. The idea of being trapped in your own body is a great horror theme to explore, but here it felt ordinary and wasn't depicted in a unique or fresh way. It also felt odd that after introducing a whopping seven characters in only the first page, the script suddenly jumps and attaches to one of them for the rest of the film... Why? How is your audience to know that this is your main character? More development of these characters is needed for better understanding and emotional investment in their fates.


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https://bit.ly/2EtDjBI" rel="nofollow - SSC The Heart of Mumbai
https://tiny.cc/ksci1y" rel="nofollow - SSC R2 Never walk willingly into the light



Replies:
Posted By: Zblugg
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2019 at 11:43am
Same deal here: do more in same space. But I get what they mean. I actually agree with everything, which might push me to revisit this one, make it bigger, wetter, better.

Funny thing is, none of them picked up on a Japanese man in the 50s using a fork... LOL

''Dansu No Neko'' 
WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY

{1569}  This screenplay hearkens back to a tragic and traumatic period in history, when pollution was largely unregulated, and it reminds of the dangers. The children chasing cats was visually compelling and that image was used to show a passage of time and degradation of the environment as well as the health of both children and cats - which was very well done.  

{1812}  This is an interesting screenplay with a well developed plot. Mayuko's character is sympathetic while Kewnichi makes a good villain. The story ends with a satisfying resolution when Karma takes its revenge on Kenichi. I especially like how the opening scene of the children innocently chasing the cats comes back full circle at the end to be the cause behind the illness.  

{1628}  Excellent choice-- lilttle-known Japanese environmental disaster is great springboard for the story. Good portayal of patriarchal dominated Japanese marriage of the period.  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK 

{1569}  The opening should read "Dialog is in Japanese with subtitles" and then, no Japanese should be included in dialog. Write it all in English.

The mercury poison revelation coming over the radio as dialog felt a little long, expository and on-the-nose.

Kenichi felt inauthentic in that he was so villainous as to not care about his child or his wife. His living in his office felt plot rather than character driven. Perhaps softening or in some other way humanizing him at least a little might make him more believable.  

{1812}  When writing a screenplay show the action rather than tell about it. For example, try including a scene of the doctor on the telephone explaining to Kenichi about the illness. And to add more drama to the screenplay, show Mayuko tending to their sick child as her illness worsens. The ending doesn't explain whether Ayami is getting better or worse, or whether her mother is taking her to see the doctor. Try to tie up this loose end in the story.  

{1628}  Unclear if Mayuko is simply feeding Kenichi sleeping pills or if it's poison - as he's being poisoned by the shellfish anyway.  Avoid passive verbs -"run" instead of "are running."


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SSP C1 http://bit.ly/2rba0KM" rel="nofollow - Dog Eat Dog
SSP C2 http://bit.ly/2KXlnPx" rel="nofollow - Dansu No Neko


Posted By: wateringcan
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2019 at 5:38am
My feedback's pretty scathing (but well deserved!) I hated this story so (for once) I think they're being a little too kind. I guess the only problem is I don't really learn from it because if I was going to write that story over I ... wouldn't ...

''The Beginning'' by Sarah Glenister -   WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - {1651}  I enjoyed that there was this double twist of espionage. You don't know who to trust in this story. The pacing of the story felt urgent and exciting to read.  {1640}  Your dialog is good, it sounds real and appropriate to each character. Everyone was an individual with their own attitude and agenda. Fast paced, tense and had lots of action.  {1635}  The twist, that Cassandra and Martin aren't lovers but agents working to sabotage a power plant, is well-observed and credible, and the rest of the plot twists (except for the very last one) feel authentic as well.  That Robbie is sacrificed for the Greater Good establishes the stakes effectively, and Chris as the lone uninvolved party is a nice touch.  WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - {1651}  You need to reveal a bit more about what's going on in this story for us to (1) understand it and (2) enjoy it. Why was Robbie a target? Why was Martin a target? Why was Cassie only detained? It seems like no one had planned to be in the house that night..or, did they? I'd give more hints about the backstory. Give us something to ground the story.  {1640}  I found this a very confusing read. Cassandra and Martin are terrorists? What did they want with Robbie? Does he work at a power plant they want access to? If he was the mark then why were they unhappy that he came home?  How long had she been married to him? How long had they been planning this? The ending doesn't resolve any questions it just adds more.  Sorry but your plot needs clarifying.  {1635}  The very end collapses; someone on the inside of Homeland Security/NSA/whatever is operating Cassandra and intentionally got her caught by screwing up her mission (and killing her husband in the process) because...?  This is Red Sparrow-level deep cover, and it wasn't convincing there, either.


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FF https://tinyurl.com/yb5tsx8a" rel="nofollow - CH 1 | https://tinyurl.com/yc5anjmw" rel="nofollow - CH 2

SSC CH 1 - Ti


Posted By: DBA Lehane
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2019 at 7:11am
As I've written elsewhere, my poor scoring first round script got far more positive feedback from the judges, than my 13 point scoring second script.

In fact, my current judges feedback is the most scathing I've had here in almost 9 years - albeit for something that scored 13 points and sent me through.

It was clear one of the judges was having a bad day, as they moaned in my feedback about the lack of conext in many of the screenplays they had read. Not sure that was something that should be included in someone's individual feedback.

Oh well, judging has always been inconsistent here. Not a surprise when they recruit judges from Craigslist.

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FFC15 4th placed finalist / SSC14 & SSC16 finalist


Posted By: Suave
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2019 at 8:06am
Originally posted by DBA Lehane DBA Lehane wrote:

As I've written elsewhere, my poor scoring first round script got far more positive feedback from the judges, than my 13 point scoring second script.

In fact, my current judges feedback is the most scathing I've had here in almost 9 years - albeit for something that scored 13 points and sent me through.

It was clear one of the judges was having a bad day, as they moaned in my feedback about the lack of conext in many of the screenplays they had read. Not sure that was something that should be included in someone's individual feedback.

Oh well, judging has always been inconsistent here. Not a surprise when they recruit judges from Craigslist.


Despite what the judges gripped about on mine I think my lack of skill with dialog is what cooked mine, I think the judges enjoy screwing with us.


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https://bit.ly/2EtDjBI" rel="nofollow - SSC The Heart of Mumbai
https://tiny.cc/ksci1y" rel="nofollow - SSC R2 Never walk willingly into the light


Posted By: JeffreyHowe
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2019 at 6:05pm
I have raised an eyebrow at some comments in the past, but this rounds' notes made perfect sense to me.

One judge said I needed more description in a few spots and another said the description was great as is. That tells me I've tightened the description to the point where some (but not all) readers get lost along the way: if I could go five 1/8 pages it would likely be fine with everyone. 

Another said the strangeness of the horror made it feel almost like parody, and that's fair: I think horror and comedy are the conjoined twins of genre, and the effect often comes down to the interpretation given (and the audience). 




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SSC2018:
CH1 G25 Noble Rot-15 pts
CH2 https://bit.ly/2TQjxU6" rel="nofollow - Cultivar -14 pts
CH3 G2 https://bit.ly/2SWWgQc" rel="nofollow - Unbalanced Diet


Posted By: trish1206
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2019 at 8:10pm
Originally posted by DBA Lehane DBA Lehane wrote:

As I've written elsewhere, my poor scoring first round script got far more positive feedback from the judges, than my 13 point scoring second script.

In fact, my current judges feedback is the most scathing I've had here in almost 9 years - albeit for something that scored 13 points and sent me through.

It was clear one of the judges was having a bad day, as they moaned in my feedback about the lack of conext in many of the screenplays they had read. Not sure that was something that should be included in someone's individual feedback.

Oh well, judging has always been inconsistent here. Not a surprise when they recruit judges from Craigslist.

This is my experience, as well.  Not exactly scathing, but not as positive as the score might imply.  It's a head-scratcher.  And not the first time my feedback has seemed contrary to the results.




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3rd Place Finalist FF2013


Posted By: manifestlynot
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2019 at 8:44pm
Mine was fair. At first I was put off by my 7 points because I thought it was a decent comedy, but the judges brought up the non-development of my main character (used up development space on an auxiliary character) and the middling score made sense.

I will say that the feedback is much more sparse than I’ve had in the past, even in challenge 1. Mostly one-sentence statements, both positive and negative, and sentence fragments. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled in the past with effusive, lengthy comments!


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SSC Ch3: https://bit.ly/2RzNvir" rel="nofollow - Lights Out
2018 Screenplay Contest Finals: 4th place


Posted By: lisafox10800
Date Posted: 11 Jan 2019 at 8:47pm
I basically had a three-way split among my judges. One loved my script, one thought there was "no story," and the third was just confused. I feel very lucky to have scored the points I did. Split decisions are often the kiss of death here.

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https://bit.ly/2SRoTO8" rel="nofollow - 2018 Flash Fiction Final
https://forums.nycmidnight.com/ch3-gr1-send-in-the-clown-romcom_topic19903.html" rel="nofollow - 2018 Short Screenplay Challenge 3 ROMCOM!


Posted By: haole
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2019 at 1:36am
For me, the feedback from all the judges in both rounds was very good, and helped my second round score be better than my first round. That was very good, because I wasn't quite as enamored with the forum feedback as I have been in the past, and I don't feel any of that was particularly helpful (which is why I never posted my second entry).

I appreciate the time these judges took, particularly in this specific contest, to read and react to our writing.


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3rd Round Entry: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/topic19917_post255644.html#255644" rel="nofollow - Exposing Moretti's


Posted By: Suave
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2019 at 3:46am
Regarding the quality of the feedback, I think we have to remember that they are actually hired, and not paid all that much I don't believe, to judge the screenplays and offer some feedback - the feedback is not their job really, that is if they are even qualified for giving feedback.  I think if you were to send you play into a place that offers critiques and paid for it the time spent on the results would be far greater and of more use.


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https://bit.ly/2EtDjBI" rel="nofollow - SSC The Heart of Mumbai
https://tiny.cc/ksci1y" rel="nofollow - SSC R2 Never walk willingly into the light


Posted By: FMau
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2019 at 6:49am
Originally posted by manifestlynot manifestlynot wrote:

 
I will say that the feedback is much more sparse than I’ve had in the past, even in challenge 1. Mostly one-sentence statements, both positive and negative, and sentence fragments. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled in the past with effusive, lengthy comments!

Strange, that. I'm in the same group as you (or was) and my feedback has been quite the opposite of sparse - I even pruned it slightly to post, as there was quite a bit of repetition. But then I probably have more stuff to work on than you ....... ;) In Ch1, I felt my feedback was really useful, although more glowing than a 3pt score would suggest, whereas this round is was more scathing than a 10pt score etc.

The thing that peed me off in my feedback was a comment to the effect that my screenplay has little plot and reads like a music video. 
It peed me off for various reasons: it suggests the music is the main thing and everything else is decorative (music accounts for a line or two), it suggests that music videos in general have no storyline, when all decent music videos do AND it's daft because music videos don't lack story, they lack dialogue. So really, from someone judging screenplays, it struck me as a pretty ignorant or short-sighted comment. The plot isn't as clear as it should be, in my screenplay, and is overshadowed by character, but there are better-informed ways to say that than 'it's like a music video'. (yeah, I'm nit-picking but I do like to think the judges know what they're talking about..)

The rest of my feedback is "fairy nuff". 




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Ch1 G34 https://tinyurl.com/yaanmn8r" rel="nofollow - Dream Spinners -3 pts
Ch2 G34 https://tinyurl.com/yc4z7hna" rel="nofollow - Sporty,Ginger,Delicia & Dick - 10pts


Posted By: JeffreyHowe
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2019 at 10:25am
Reading scripts for a festival contest shifted my perspective on feedback and on judging somewhat.  Sometimes it's easy to pinpoint the issues with a script quickly, and sometimes you just latch on to something obvious because you know it's not working as well as at could but you don't know why--and scores are due.

That's one reason they say to read note looking less for precise instructions for improvement--though it's sweet when that happens--and more for inductive hints.  For example, I figure that if I get a note here that the reader wanted more of x, y or z than can possibly fit in five pages, what that really means is that the story I wrote is just too big for five pages (and this is by far the most common comment I see in everyone's feedback, mine included, for obvious reasons).


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SSC2018:
CH1 G25 Noble Rot-15 pts
CH2 https://bit.ly/2TQjxU6" rel="nofollow - Cultivar -14 pts
CH3 G2 https://bit.ly/2SWWgQc" rel="nofollow - Unbalanced Diet


Posted By: Suave
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2019 at 10:32am
Originally posted by JeffreyHowe JeffreyHowe wrote:

Reading scripts for a festival contest shifted my perspective on feedback and on judging somewhat.  Sometimes it's easy to pinpoint the issues with a script quickly, and sometimes you just latch on to something obvious because you know it's not working as well as at could but you don't know why--and scores are due.

That's one reason they say to read note looking less for precise instructions for improvement--though it's sweet when that happens--and more for inductive hints.  For example, I figure that if I get a note here that the reader wanted more of x, y or z than can possibly fit in five pages, what that really means is that the story I wrote is just too big for five pages (and this is by far the most common comment I see in everyone's feedback, mine included, for obvious reasons).


So right you are!  Or, it could mean rework the story till these points don't come up.

And the judging and writing feedback can not be easy.


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https://bit.ly/2EtDjBI" rel="nofollow - SSC The Heart of Mumbai
https://tiny.cc/ksci1y" rel="nofollow - SSC R2 Never walk willingly into the light


Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2019 at 10:48am
I got 9 points. Not terrible, and had I gotten 9 or better in the first round, I would have advanced.

I was puzzled by the note that my script lacked context (set in a van) because the establishing shot and the subsequent scenes are either looking at the van, or within the van.

At this point in my experiences with NYCM contests and judging, I'm going to chew up the meat and spit out the bones.

The lovely, lovely bones.


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Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur


Posted By: jdadams1
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2019 at 10:35pm
Mine got 4 points, which wasn't as high I was hoping, but was enough to advance, so I guess that's what's important. The second judge seemed to really like it, which pleased me. (I actually got a "Thank you"!) The others thought it was too rushed/condensed, which I think is fair. I suspect it's thanks to that second judge that I got any points at all!

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - 


{1635}  Revenge of the Nerds as a horror film.  The feeling of an 80's teen movie is well-observed and credible; this is a dark version of any of several films invoked by the names Spielberg and Hughes.  Benny especially is an interesting addition and deftly provides a reason for the dynamic to shift.  The 80s technology feels authentic, referencing a little Stranger Things, Super 8, etc.  


{1795}  This is a truly bizarre script. In a good way. Unique and twisting in unexpected ways in certain spots. Thank you.  


{1739}  The story has a nice 'Stranger Things' vibe to it. The three friends using the mysterious van to exact social revenge was fun.  


WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - 


{1635}  It's all a bit too condensed to really work, and while it's true to the 80s source material, the trio becoming jerks doesn't really seem like motivation for the other kids to suddenly like them.  Be afraid that they might be next, maybe (which might make for a more interesting dynamic) but going from geeks to geeks-who-hurt-your-heroes doesn't seem like a strong enough motivation for them to become popular.  


{1795}  Aside from Mason feeling guilty, I think that he should notice Olivia's constant eye obsession. Or perhaps Benny should notice.

And maybe consider not having Olivia/Alien killing Benny with such a conventional method like a knife. Let's see something way more interesting. For example...what happens in Watching the Watchers? Or Meteor-Men from Mars? Give us something more creative than just a typical and boring knife.  


{1739}  The story feels very rushed, with key elements and scenes being omitted. The evolution of the friends isn't really clear and how Mason came to the conclusion that the van was changing them was vague.



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SSPC2: http://bit.ly/2G3bm4C" rel="nofollow - EYES

SSPC3: http://bit.ly/2RQjyKc" rel="nofollow - OPERATION: Get My Gay Friend a Date


Posted By: DadOfDavid
Date Posted: 13 Jan 2019 at 8:30pm
I was a judge in some peer-group contests a few lifetimes ago and felt like I did the best job I possibly could despite my limited qualifications (i.e. I was willing to do it)

Sometimes my critiques were very precise, others were less so. I'd like to think that the feedback was always useful.

That being said, I appreciate all the feedback that I have received from the NYC Midnight competitions and take all the comments both positive and negative with the same level of regard. The fact that these comments are made anonymously gives them more weight. 

I frequently agree with the comments but even if I don't, I ask myself, why did the judge feel that way?

And finally, to my fellow writers I offer the following: I learn more from the people who don't like my work than from the people that do.

ps: But yeah, there is only so much one can do in five pages. These contests, however, force us to learn what we need to keep and what we can cut




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Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill


Posted By: jdadams1
Date Posted: 13 Jan 2019 at 11:59pm
Originally posted by DadOfDavid DadOfDavid wrote:


And finally, to my fellow writers I offer the following: I learn more from the people who don't like my work than from the people that do.



I agree about learning more from people who don't like my work!

That being said, sometimes the judges' feedback here is... odd. I'm still struck by feedback I got from one of my Flash Fiction Challenges last year. The main character was a gay male. He spoke about his lover, Beaumont, frequently, and Beaumont was described with male pronouns ("his," etc.). A judge's piece of feedback: "A little more information about Beaumont himself (is Beaumont a man?) might be helpful."

LOL


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SSPC2: http://bit.ly/2G3bm4C" rel="nofollow - EYES

SSPC3: http://bit.ly/2RQjyKc" rel="nofollow - OPERATION: Get My Gay Friend a Date


Posted By: Suave
Date Posted: 14 Jan 2019 at 1:04am
Originally posted by jdadams1 jdadams1 wrote:

Originally posted by DadOfDavid DadOfDavid wrote:


And finally, to my fellow writers I offer the following: I learn more from the people who don't like my work than from the people that do.



I agree about learning more from people who don't like my work!

That being said, sometimes the judges' feedback here is... odd. I'm still struck by feedback I got from one of my Flash Fiction Challenges last year. The main character was a gay male. He spoke about his lover, Beaumont, frequently, and Beaumont was described with male pronouns ("his," etc.). A judge's piece of feedback: "A little more information about Beaumont himself (is Beaumont a man?) might be helpful."

LOL


Haha, that just goes to show they speed read without the skill set.  Has happened to me more times than I would like.  If you look at my feedback at the start of this thread, then look at the needs work - judge 1772 - he/she did not even understand that it did not matter if he was a bad guy or not, he was dying by chance, the circle did not chose him, the same fate that awaits every living person is the horror aspect - seems it went right over his/her head and probably cost me, lol.


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https://bit.ly/2EtDjBI" rel="nofollow - SSC The Heart of Mumbai
https://tiny.cc/ksci1y" rel="nofollow - SSC R2 Never walk willingly into the light


Posted By: manifestlynot
Date Posted: 14 Jan 2019 at 1:07am
Originally posted by jdadams1 jdadams1 wrote:

Originally posted by DadOfDavid DadOfDavid wrote:


And finally, to my fellow writers I offer the following: I learn more from the people who don't like my work than from the people that do.



I agree about learning more from people who don't like my work!

That being said, sometimes the judges' feedback here is... odd. I'm still struck by feedback I got from one of my Flash Fiction Challenges last year. The main character was a gay male. He spoke about his lover, Beaumont, frequently, and Beaumont was described with male pronouns ("his," etc.). A judge's piece of feedback: "A little more information about Beaumont himself (is Beaumont a man?) might be helpful."

LOL

I had one a few contests ago that got the main character's name wrong - several times. The comments matched the story, so it wasn't a mix up, but it seemed like an odd thing to flub.


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SSC Ch3: https://bit.ly/2RzNvir" rel="nofollow - Lights Out
2018 Screenplay Contest Finals: 4th place



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