Screenplay Festival was established to help eliminate this "chicken and egg" problem. By accepting all submitted screenplays and judging them based upon their quality -- not their source or their standardized formatting or the quality of the brads holding them together -- Screenplay Festival looks to give undiscovered screenwriters an opportunity to rise above the crowd.
The competition's categories ensure that a truly wonderful script is not punished or ignored because it is in a genre that does not usually win awards. There is no limit to the frustration experienced by the writer who commits the crime of writing "fun" or "likeable" material. In this world of awards, it always seems to be "important" films that win the accolades. In reality, people love dramas, and they love comedies and action movies and thrillers and horror flicks. Writing for a fun genre should not forbid a writer from having their talents acknowledged.
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Screenplay Festival has announced their semifinalists for 2012.
Screenplay Festival has announced their 2011 semifinalists.
The Screenplay Festival Screenwriting Competition has announced their 2010 final results.
The Screenplay Festival Screenwriting Competition has announced their 2009 final results.
The Screenplay Festival Screenwriting Competition has announced their 2009 finalists.
An interview with screenwriter J. Charles Zeller regarding the Screenplay Festival Writing Competition.Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?
A: The title of my script is "Absalom: a tale of the Civil War." The story is about a river boat captain named Absalom Grimes who finds himself at odds with the Federal government in 1861. His Southern roots compel him to become a mail runner and a spy for the Confederacy. Along with his fiancee, Lucy Glascock, and his friend, Robert Louden, Grimes sets out on his smuggling career delivering mail to Missouri soldiers as well as information to the Confederate generals. Lucy is caught and would have been executed were it not for the timely rescue by Nathan Bedford Forrest and his rogue cavalry. Grimes and Louden are eventually caught and sent to Alton prison until they were pardoned by Lincoln at the end of the war.Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?
A: I entered the Screenplay Festival because it was one of the first I came across when I first began writing screenplays back in the fall of '09. It seemd like a genuine and on the up and up type of contest.Q: Were you satisfied with the administration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?
A: I was satisfied with the way the administration kept in touch along the way. Deadlines were met and the process was very much according to how it was advertised. I did indeed receive my "Honorable Mention" certificate. I was also asked for loglines from a couple of industry agencies, although none of them have shown any interest in the story. I suspect that it's not within the current market parameters.Q: How long did it take you to write the script? Did you write an outline beforehand? How many drafts did you write?
A: It took me two months to write the script on a part time basis. I had already accumulated a significant amount of research on the topic from my days as a Civil War re-enactor. The outline I made fit along with the basic timeline of events of the war in Missouri. However, I did make substantial notes in outline format to develop the plot and keep track of the characters. I wrote two drafts before entering the contest. Since then I have polished the script even more.Q: What kind of software did you use to write the script, if any? What other kinds of writing software do you use?
A: Initially I used Word to write the script using downloaded scripts of similar movies as a model of format. Since then I have installed Final Draft 8 and have re-written the script using that software.Q: Do you write every day? How many hours per day?
A: I try to write each day for maybe three hours or so. I have completed two other scripts since the ending of the Screenplay Festival contest. I would say that my "honorable mention" in the contest (being that it was even my first attempt at screenplay writing) inspired me to want to write moreQ: Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you deal with that?
A: I seldom get "writer's block" per se. I do find myself, at times, to be unmotivated to write, so I don't. I wait until the ideas and images from the story become so intense in my mind that I must write them and then the writing flows fairly well. Sometimes, as was in the case of "Absalom," I play music from the period to put me in the frame of mind for the piece.Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?
A: I was a high school English, speech, and drama teacher for 34 years. As I mentioned above, I was a Civil War re-enactor for 10 years along with my wife who participated in the "hobby" as we called it. She was all about the clothing and fabric and even wrote a handbook on the subject which was a hot item for a long time within the re-enacting community. Both of us have always been theatre persons. We wrote several children's plays and co-authored two full length plays. I decided to venture into screenplay writing since I always appreciated the craft that went into that part of film making. Since my first attempt with "Absalom" and the results of the Screenplay Festival, I gained confidence to write more. I have completed two other screenplays. One based on the epic classic "Song of Roland" and the other about the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. The former was inspired by one of my favorite childhood stories. The latter inspired from my Civil War days also when we had the opportunity to play "base ball" according to the rules of that time period.Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?
A: No I do not live in Los Angeles. No plans to move there at this time.Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?
A: I am working on a script using science fiction as the story base. I had taught literature of science fiction, and have always been fascinated by the possibilities of it. Since I have begun screen play writing I have also become more knowlegdeable about the industry and its market. It seems that sci-fi-animated-cg-3D type of stories (as in Avatar and Inception) seem to be more in the market main stream right now.