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Notification: Finalists announced February 1st, 2013
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Seeing Red by Sundae Jahant Osborn has been named the winner of the Tennesee Screenwriters Association Screenwriting Competition.
The Tennessee Screenwriting Association has announced Elvis Wilson's Driving Top Down as the first place winner of their 2010 screenwriting competition.
The Tennssee Screenwriting Association has announced the results of their 2005 screenwriting contest.
The Tennessee Screenwriters Association has announced the winners of their 2004 Screenplay Contest.
The Tennessee Screenwriting Association has announced their first round contest results.
An interview with screenwriter Jason Allen regarding the Tennessee Writing Competition.Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?
A: It's called THE HAPPY VALLEY MAFIA. It's about a New York mob boss who wants to go straight so he moves to a small Southern town and becomes a librarian. However, he unknowingly invades the turf of a wild, ruthless backwoods gang known as the Happy Valley Mafia. At that point, as you might guess, things get a bit ugly. It's a comedy, though, so the ugliness is mostly goofy and lighthearted -- sort of in a RAISING ARIZONA-kind of way.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 had entered this contest a couple of times before and had pretty good results. My script LUCKY TEETER won the contest back in 2003. I got more requests for the script after winning the contest and it ended up being optioned a few times before finally getting produced (as LUCKY FRITZ) in 2009. The director, Stephen Manuel, said that having a contest-winning script helped during his pitch meetings -- so I'll take his word for it.
This is the first contest I've entered with this particular script. I actually wrote it four or five years ago; I had a few option offers, but I decided to hold on to it and do another rewrite. I got busy with other projects and never got a chance to do the rewrite, so I decided to enter it into a couple of contests as is.
A: Yeah, I thought they did a good job with the the contest. Everything was professional, they met their deadlines, they kept in constant communication, and I received everything that was promised. I have no complaints.Q: How long did it take you to write the script? Did you write an outline beforehand? How many drafts did you write?
A: Yeah, I did write an outline first. Before starting this script, I had just read the book "Story" by Robert McKee. So I did things a bit differently with this script. I actually wrote the first two drafts without any dialogue whatsoever. I just wrote the action -- what the characters were doing and what they were thinking. And then with the third draft I finally inserted dialogue. It was good practice -- I learned that you could tell a story with only a minimal amount of dialogue. My characters tend to get talky sometimes, so I wanted these characters to say only what was necessary to move the story forward. I learned quite a bit while writing this.
Initially it took about two months to write this script. And that was three drafts. A bit later Richard Shepherd, an agent with The Artists Agency in L.A., read the script and decided to represent me. He had some minor changes, so I worked on it for another three or four weeks to fine tune it. So overall it was about three months of work.
A: I actually have a screenwriting format program that I put together myself using Microsoft Word. It's pretty simple and basic -- but I'm comfortable with it and it works just fine. I got Final Draft a couple of years ago, but I haven't written a script with it yet -- maybe the next one.Q: Do you write every day? How many hours per day?
A: Yeah, I do some kind of writing every day -- although not necessarily screenwriting. My background is journalism, so I've done writing for newspapers, magazines, websites, etc. I try to do some type of writing on a regular basis -- whether it's screenwriting, journal writing, an article, email, whatever. I guess it's my primary creative outlet.Q: Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you deal with that?
A: I get writer's block now and then. But fortunately it doesn't seem to last long. If I can't write, I usually put on my backpack, lace up my hiking boots and hit the trail. A few hours out in the woods with the birds and trees and wildflowers are usually enough to inspire me and get the creative juices flowing again.Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?
A: My major was mass communications/journalism and I started out in the newspaper business. I did news writing, feature writing, sports writing, entertainment writing, editing... you name it. I also wrote for some magazines and did some travel writing and photography. About the only type of writing I haven't tried yet is songwriting -- which, considering I live in Nashville, might sound strange.
Yeah, I've written several feature-length scripts. Even though I haven't been able to devote as much time to screenwriting as I'd like, I've been pretty fortunate: I've had several option deals, I've had one of my scripts produced, and have another project in pre-production.
A: No, I still live in the Nashville area. One of my agents tried to convince me to move to L.A. He said he could get me a lot of work out there -- especially in TV. But that's not for me. I prefer a slow-paced life, rural living, the great outdoors.... that's where I find joy and happiness and peace. I like the luxury of being able to write when I want and how I want. Yeah, I would get more opportunities in L.A. But I firmly believe that if you write something worthwhile, it will find it's way into the hands of someone who can do something with it -- whether you live in Nashville or L.A. or wherever. My entertainment attorney is based in L.A. ... so that helps a bit.Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?
A: I'm just now starting to throw around ideas some for my next script. Most likely it will be a comedy. Also, in the next couple of years, I'd really like to write (and maybe even direct) a local low-budget horror film. I grew up a horror movie fanatic, but I've never tried writing horror. I recall that I was pretty good at scaring people when I was a kid -- I once made my room into a mini-haunted house and scared the hell out of all the neighbors. So I think I have it in me. We'll see...