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In answer to the question about pitching: I think being on a panel would be much more intimidating. I pitched last year and at least I only embarrassed myself in front of one person at a time, rather than a whole audience!
I really found the best way to make pitching easier (aside from practice, which is also important) is to talk to the other pitchers. That gives you a feeling of "we're all in this together!" despite the fact that these people are the competition.
Most of the folks taking pitches were friendly. When talking to others about the few who were decidedly unfriendly (really just one who was rather awful), I found that it wasn't just me.
Unfortunately, pitching didn't lead to a sale. Out of twelve pitches, only one company ultimately read my screenplay and said it was too dark for them (at least they didn't say it sucked, but I guess Hollywood never does!) One other company asked me to send them any future loglines.
(And the Moses movie you're referring to is Prince of Egypt!)
Umm, not that I've been refreshing the page (http://coverageink.blogspot.com/2009/10/writers-on-storm-top-50.html) every five minutes or anything, but here are the semi-finalists:
Arkan: The Last Campaign by Parrish Griggs
Atlanta From Olympus by Lee Tidball
Axel's Riff by Richard L. Sartore
Beast by Blake McCallister
Borderland by J.R. Taylor
Coldblooded by Susan Russell
Controlled by Craig Cambria
Dealers by Jimmy Bromberg
Destinations by Jocelyn Osier
Grace by Marie Robinson
Gravedigger by M. Justin Parsons
Home Free by Atif Shaikh
Hoopla by Joe Romeo
Horror Comic by Stephen Hoover
Kamali'i Nia - The Dolphin Princess by Rockwood
Macau Twilight by Tony Shyu
New Project N-I-4-N-I by Bonnie Bonaduce
No Running by Elizabeth Savage Sullivan
Privileged Voice by Victor Grippi
Quest by Russ Meyer
Raccoon by Robert Bollweg
Rainwashed by Paul Sargia
Red Forest by Aaron Marshall
Return To Darian's Point by Kyle Michel Sullivan
Riveter by Kevin Madden
Scatterbrains by Richard Hohenrath
Seeking Samarkand by Felipe Cagno
Sense of Self by Craig Cambria
Shades of Grey by Michael D. Morra
Shotgun Cinderella by Alex Hollister
Shrovetide by Peter Besson
Sophronia L. by Tim Bridwell
Stones From The Heart by Joanne Kimura
Stranger to the World by Jeremy Greenberg
The Guardians by Jason Auerbach
The Jacaranda Tree by Alex Broun
The Kids From Nowhere by George Guthridge & Deborah Schildt
The Last Bigheart by Barbara Senatore
The Last Secret by Ron Basso
The Lodger by June Escalante
The Quiet Killing Box by Jeff W. Davidson
The Reunion by Allen R. Rosenberg
The Svengali Effect by Jeremy Shipp
The Twenty-Fifth of Whatever by Adam Bertocci
The Undead by J. Dillon Flanagan
The Writ Writer by Michael Murphy
Tortoise and the Heir by Russ Meyer
Uncaged by Melissa Birks
Wedding Knight by Stephen Hoover
Wilshire by Laurence Cruz
Yay, I'm still there! And congrats to Stephen (still twice!) and Michael and any other MB lurkers (like I usually am).
Shrovetide by Peter Besson
Wilshire by Laurence Cruz
The Lodger by June Escalante
Arkan: The Last Campaign by Parrish Griggs
Scatterbrains by Richard Hohenrath
Riveter by Kevin Madden
Coldblooded by Susan Russell
Rainwashed by Paul Sargia
Svengali Effect by Jeremy Shipp
Borderland by J.R. Taylor
I haven't been on this forum for too long, so if any other MB'ers are with me on this list, congrats! I was quite surprised to find myself here. The only other name I recognize is Laurence Cruz, who sometimes produces Pilar Alessandra's very helpful podcast: On the Page.
Thanks, everyone! WOTS has been great so far about being on time for everything, so I hope to see the prizes pretty soon after the winner is announced on Dec. 7. A number of their prizes are services I'm interested in, but would be reluctant to pay for myself. I'll try to review all those here for others who might be interested. And of course I'll post if the finals placement leads to a manager, agent, option, etc.!
I actually thought about writing to ask them to add my middle name. This could certainly be a case where someone writes under one or more pen-names and the screenplay was listed under his real name instead.
Winners have been announced: http://coverageink.blogspot.com/2009/12/writers-on-storm-winners-2009.html I didn't make it past the top ten, but I'm still very happy. Jim Cirile called not long after the results were posted to let me know I could send along my most recent rewrite for the coverage prize. He was so upbeat and positive that I almost forgot I didn't make top three!
I gleaned some good ideas from the "Contests that have gotten results..." thread! Here's my list of possibilities (in approximate order of deadline date): Script Savvy, ScriptPIMP, Scriptapalooza, PAGE, Screenplay Search, AAA, BlueCat, Nicholl, Silver Screenwriting, Austin, Screenplay Festival, Screamfest. (I didn't even notice until just now that I had twelve: one a month!) Oh, and here's what guided my choices as far as what I'm looking for: 1) Making a sale/getting representation, 2) Cash prizes, 3) Useful feedback
Congratulations, MB'ers! I look forward to hearing a lot more feedback (especially of one or more of you making a sale...) before next year's contest.
Creative Screenwriting is doing a survey of script consultant clients for a report they are putting together:
If you take the survey you get a free copy of the report.
I have used Coverage, Ink several times and been very happy with their coverage.
Last year I entered my first screenplay in AAA, CS Expo contest, ACEFest, and Writers on the Storm. I believe all four got different revisions. I am planning on entering that screenplay in more contests this year and I also hope my second screenplay will be ready for prime-time within a month or two.
The big question for now is whether to enter AAA again. I purchased the evaluation service last year (which doesn't seem to be available this time) and got pretty high marks. I've fixed the areas the reader said needed work. This makes me think, "yes," of course I should re-enter.
However, I had some problems with the way the contest was run (and of course these are the same folks that Irin pointed out many issues with in another thread). The administrator was not good about replying when I had some concerns. I honestly wondered if my screenplay had even been read before the end of the contest.
And even though, perhaps it shouldn't matter, I noticed how unprofessional the page showing 2009 winners looks (http://creativescreenwriting.com/aaa/2009.winners.html). There is one "semifinlalist" (yes, that's how it is spelled!) listed between the grand prize winner and second place. Doesn't CS usually use the "normal" meaning of semi-finalist to be the group in between quarter-finalists and finalists? There is "2ND" place and "3rd" place (inconsistent capitalization). There is a "TOP HAFT HOUR" (their spelling) with "Winner" in bold and a "TOP ONE HOUR" with "Winner" not in bold. I'm not usually a nit-picker on such things, but so many errors, large and small, on a WRITING contest website (one that is prominently linked from their current AAA site)...it just gives me doubts about the overall professionalism (especially combined with the slow response times).
If you made it through all that, tell me what you think!
[Important note: Posts that harp on someone else's spelling and grammar errors are guaranteed to contain several of their own. So I'm not even attempting to proof-read!]
Interesting topic and some good advice so far.
I have one finished screenplay which I have entered in four contests: ACEFest, Expo, AAA, and Writers on the Storm. I definitely started entering too early. WotS got the most recent draft (more recent than the others, though no longer current!) and I made top 10 in that one.
I recently had my phone conference with Jim Cirile from WotS (which was very useful--I have nothing but praise for him and for the contest) and he had an interesting take on going the contest route. He said that of the 140-ish people/companies that WotS sends the finalist log-lines to, about 40 of those are people he has a personal connection with and who are more likely to look at something sent with his recommendation than the same thing coming in cold. The other 100 companies will still know the script has been through some filtering, but it's not quite as good as that personal connection. If your script wins or places in several contests, then each contest head will have a different group of 40 (or however many) contacts that will be more likely to read something recommended by them.
I have a list of about 10 contests I plan on entering in the next year. Hopefully my second screenplay will be finished and ready by spring--increasing my contest fees, but also increasing my chances at getting noticed!
I had this one on my list to enter, but changed my mind. I like the fact that they have seven categories, but it looks like only the grand prize winner gets promoted to agents and managers.
If this guy had a better alternative, I might pay more attention to his "advice." (Though I'm always wary of claims that "Everyone should always do X!" or "Nobody should ever do X!")
He says the Nicholl winners post-win performance is "spotty" but then suggests that we move to L.A. or make a film. Do connection-less screenwriters who move to L.A. have a better outcome than Nicholl winners? Do screenwriters with zero director experience who make their own films do better in the long run? I'd be interested to see the evidence.
Even leaving aside Nicholl for the contests he considers worthless scams, his points don't hold. He says contests are passive. Contests provide deadlines for writers, many of whom are the kind of folks who need an external kick-in-the-ass. They also let you know how you're doing among the other amateurs. This doesn't mean every (or even most) contest winners are going to make it, but it's a good way of figuring out that you're not going to make it if you can't rise to the top among the other outsiders trying to get in. And it's a lot cheaper than moving to L.A. before you figure that out.
As for whether it's worth the money, that depends on individual circumstances. If entering contests means you have to go without beer and toilet paper for a month, maybe you should wait. But if it means one less dinner out a month, why not try and see how it goes?
As for getting your Amadeus (and I agree--weird pick!) into the hands of one industry person... Okay, I'm sure many contests don't have the industry pull they claim, but they surely have more industry contacts than I do! Dave makes it sound like "Mr. Industry" will be more likely to buy my script if I blast him an unsolicited email with said script attached (maybe if I write "Hey! I believe in myself so I moved to Holllywood!") than if a contest rep sends it with a note that it won such-and-such not-very-well-known contest, but the contest coordinator is a friend of a friend of friend of "Mr. Industry."
Low odds are not the same as "complete waste of time and money."
And what about those rare folks (some of them having posted in this very thread!) who have actually made money off contests? Doing something you're passionate about and making a little money from it while you work toward your big break? That doesn't sound stupid to me.
Congratulations Mike! Lots of great advice in your message--I may even try to follow some of it. Louisiana Blood sounds like my kind of movie, as I have a lot of interest in Jack the Ripper and serial killers in general. Good luck to you!
Most of the professionals out there seem to say some variant of "writing is rewriting." If you agree with any of the notes you got, then you certainly want to make those changes. Even if you don't agree with the notes, go through your script several more times, thinking about different elements with each pass (dialog, descriptions, pacing, etc.) and rewrite.
I hadn't heard of this one (thought the posting would be about writers who are paranoid their ideas will be stolen!), but it sounds fun. I'm planning on entering Shriekfest and Screamfest, both of which got good marks on this site. I'll be interested to hear how things go if your script progresses. Good luck on making it to the pirate ship!
I have a much longer list than most of you. Maybe it's because I only have one finished screenplay at the moment! I'm hoping to get the second one ready well before the end of "contest season." Anyway, here's my ever-evolving list: ScriptSavvy, Scriptapalooza, PAGE, BlueCat, AAA, Shriekfest, Nicholl, ScriptPimp, Silver Screenwriting, Austin, Screenplay Festival, Screamfest, Writers on the Storm
If any of those have you screaming in your head "NO, NOOOO, don't do it!!" please let me know!
I'll have to look further into Scriptapalooza. I hadn't heard too much negative information, so maybe I need to go back and look at the comments on the message board and in the contest section. I'll go ahead and do Bluecat and see if I think their feedback is worthwhile. I entered AAA last year with a much earlier not-ready-for-primetime version of my script. I did have problems getting answers from them and I signed up for the feedback just to make sure the script got read. The feedback was pretty short but mildly helpful. AAA doesn't seem to be offering a feedback option this year (last time I checked), so I'm not sure I'll stick with them. The horror specific contests don't offer feedback either, so I'm just taking a risk to see how it goes with a genre specific contest.
I appreciate all the helpful suggestions in this thread!
I have it on good authority that Stephen Hoover is quite the handsome devil! (Actually, I saw his pic on facebook via ScriptShadow).
Oh, you ALWAYS use the double--very clever.
Slightly altering Michael's idea, how about "Full Moon Mermaid"? I am confused though when you say her mother is an actual wolf and that she's not a werewolf. She's not human at all? Other than that, from your description I'm wondering if it's like a comedic take on The Secret of Roan Innish? You could do "The Secret of Crescent Bay."
This is a trailer for a project in which five directors created short movies (in different genres) from the same dialogue. I think it will be interesting to look at from a screenwriting perspective. Maybe those descriptive passages are important after all!
Don, Thanks for pointing out Cynosure. I'd never heard of them and I have two scripts (one not quite ready for primetime, but should be finished by their regular deadline) with female protagonists. I'm adding them to my list!
I have never paid any attention to whether contests specify "amateur." It's hard to imagine that many professional screenwriters would have any interest in entering contests. My view (fair or not) of a professional entering a contest (even a highly regarded one) would be that his/her career must not be going very well and he/she is desperate. It would seem to be the equivalent of seeing some has-been actor in a low budget commercial pitching insurance or gold.
I think (1) sounds better.
I've been listening to "Building Great Sentences" from The Teaching Company, so I hope I got it right!
In addition to James and Irin, I recognized Mike Donald, Stephen Hoover, and Michael Scott. Congrats to all of you and the other MB'ers who I missed. May you all make it to the finals! (And then some type of no-holds-barred cage-match to determine the winner...)
It's risky to comment on a comment on something one hasn't written.... But I'll try! I think she may have just worded her critique poorly and she really means that Hitler is still too real to work in a comedy from an unknown writer. I hope she wasn't really worried about offending Nazis, but rather thinking that you might offend some people with a silly portrayal of someone so recent and so evil. Of course Hitler is used in comedy, but sometimes what works for the pros isn't the best idea for an unknown.
I'm not saying I agree with this assessment. I think it would really depend on how you pull it off. Just pointing out that this might make more sense as a critique than "Please don't offend the Nazis!"
I finished my rewrite on my psychological thriller/horror today and just submitted to PAGE and BlueCat. I agree with Irin's reasoning in how to pick which contests to enter. Now I just have to decide if I can stand to look at my screenplay again before the next few deadlines: Slamdance, AAA, and Scriptapalooza. My plan is to start rewriting my cyber-thriller and then do a read-over of the horror in a week and see if I want to add that scene I'm not sure if I should add... Decision, decisions.
Thanks for all the great information everyone's posted...even when it does indicate I may have made a few mistakes in choosing contests!
I did a final final final rewrite on my horror/thriller and it's now been sent off to PAGE, BlueCat, Slamdance, AAA, Scriptapalooza, Silver Screenwriting, Script Savvy, and Script PIMP. I ordered feedback from everyone who offered it. Silver Screenwriting gave me the least confidence that the actually got my script. The front page says it uses WAB, but I never got to that. There was an odd question asking how I'd found out about "The UK contest." They did my money through paypal, but I'm going to contact them in a few days if I don't get some kind of "we received your script" email. Script PIMP was also a bit confusing.
I plan on submitting to Nicholl, Champion, Screenplay Festival, Austin, Shriekfest, and Screamfest. I looked into Cynosure, but they don't seem very horror-friendly, based on past winners.
Janet mentioned Moondance, which is a local festival. I've been to a few of their panels and screenings. They had a pitch panel which was useful. I don't know how helpful they are to their winners, but I would not enter unless you have a left-leaning "Socially Meaningful" movie. You know, something with anti-war, feminist, GLBTQ, or new-agey spiritual themes. If anyone plans on attending Moondance, let me know!
Congratulations Robert and Mike! Keep going!
I entered ScriptSavvy after reading all the great comments here. The wishful thinking part of me is now hoping the feedback will be returned before some of the upcoming deadlines. The site says it comes back before results, which means by May 31. I entered April 5. Can those who've entered before give me any hope that I'll get feedback before May 1 (Nicholl!) or May 15 (Champion and Austin). I prefer not to enter at the last minute, but it would also be nice to have some feedback before sending.
Now, time to quit worrying about all these little things and get the rewrite of my second screenplay done!
So it seems what I thought: unlikely to get the feedback in time for May 1, possible (if they don't just wait and send everyone's at the same time) to get it back before May 15. I went ahead and ordered the full feedback after hearing all the good reviews here. There are a few later (summer-ish) deadlines, so even if it's not back in time for Nicholl, Champion, etc., it should still help for the later contests. And none of you guys entered or are going to enter ScriptSavvy for April, right???
There was a good article in the last moviebytes newsletter about the difference between coverage and consulting: http://www.moviebytes.com/NewsStory.cfm?StoryID=3819
I had never thought too much about the difference before. I've had good luck with coverage from CoverageInk, but I'm also thinking I'll try Pilar Alessandra's consulting on the screenplay I'm rewriting now. I find her podcast one of the most useful resources around.
For those thinking of Writers on the Storm: Jim Cirile announced they won't be having a 2010 contest, as he is busy getting a movie made and doing the CS Open contests. I was a top ten finalist for 2009 and just recently got my final rewrite in to him. He has said they won't be sending scripts out until their grand prize winner is done with rewrites. I'll let people here know what happens, especially if the contest returns.
I also wanted to give an update on the two websites I had trouble with: Silver Screenwriting and Script Pimp. I wrote to both of them to see if they'd received my script, and both wrote back within 24 hours to say that they had. It may be a small thing, but lack of communication can be very frustrating, so I think it's a big plus when contests get back to you in a prompt and friendly manner.
I think what's most important depends on your goal. Originality is probably high up if you're looking to do an indie film, but commercial appeal/marketability is most important if you want to sell a spec script to Hollywood. I certainly admire indie film makers, but my goal is to sell Hollywood specs. From all the reading I've done, here's what seems most important:
Good writing style
High concept story
Emotionally appealing characters
I looked at Write Movies, being lured by the low price. It seems pretty strange that they have a contest that includes screenplays, novels, short stories, and children's books all competing against each other. These are all fine forms of writing, but are very different. Judging them together makes no sense to me, so I'm going to pass on this one.
I hope WriteMovies will work out, but thanks for posting about your problems, It helps all of us to see when there are issues. I had similar problems with AAA last year, though I did finally get things straightened out. I entered again only because I plan on going to the Expo and it would be nice to do well in their contest and get the free expo tickets. I agree with Irin that they should stick to their deadlines like many other contests do.
With AAA, I had the same feeling--that because they already had my money, they were not in a big hurry to get back to me. That's one reason I was happy when Silver Screenwriting and Script Pimp got back to me so quickly--even though they already had the money.
James and Irin--good luck with Scriptapalooza--I hope to join you in the finalist circle!
How do you decide what genre to put if it's not a matter of lying to pick a popular one, but rather of not being sure? I've sent my screenplay for coverage and had it classified as "horror," "thriller," and "crime drama." I think of it as a "psychological thriller." If the genre is fuzzy, is it good to point out a similar movie (i.e. "in the vein of 'Silence of the Lambs.'")?
Which contests would you consider worthy of mention? Everybody agrees on Nicholl, but some would also say Austin, PAGE, Scriptapalooza, Slamdance, and others. Unfortunately, I haven't placed in any of these, but I hope this will become a burning question for me soon!
This sounds really good. May your movie beat the pants off of "Twilight!" (Well, a girl can dream, right?)
Oh no, if I knew the turnaround was that quick, I'd have entered earlier! I submitted today, so hopefully will get feedback before some of the mid-late May and June deadlines (but sadly not in time for Nicholl). I'm looking forward to the DVD too.
This screenplay must be burning a hole in my pocket--I just entered two more unplanned contests and one more planned. Here's my list so far: PAGE, BlueCat, Slamdance, AAA, Scriptapalooza, Silver Screenwriting, Script Pimp, ScriptSavvy, Champion, StoryPros, ScriptShadow (at least this one is free!)
My next deadline is Nicholl, and unfortunately I don't think I'll be getting any feedback in time to make any changes for that one. The rest of the upcoming list is Cynosure (maybe), Austin, Screenplay Festival, Shriekfest and Screamfest.
For StoryPros, I had to choose which genre to enter between action/adventure/thriller and horror/sci-fi/fantasy. I went with horror, but I hate having to make that choice!
I saw that too. That's when all we MB'ers slowly back away, shaking our heads...."No, no, umm, that's really funny and pathetic and everything, but that is NOT me. Did you hear me?? THAT IS NOT ME DAMMIT! Right?"
For more cringe-y screenwriter humor go to http://hollywoodroaster.wordpress.com/
Making the semi-finals is certainly better than not making the semi-finals, so I'd say it's good--congrats!
The last one to crack my not-really-in-existence top 10 list was Inglourious Basterds. I don't like the idea of committing to a set-in-stone top 10 list. But at this moment in time, the other 9 would be...
Chasing Amy, Waking Ned Divine, Apollo 13, Lord of the Rings, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, eXistenZ, Rear Window, and the one that pretty much always tops my list: Network.
And I make no argument that these are the best written or classics or most deserving of some world-wide recognition. Just my favorites at the moment.
I also hate writing loglines and synopses.
I think your logline is pretty good, but the synopsis does not pique my interest nearly as much as the ten pages. Part of the problem is that you focus on the concept more than the protagonist. I'd like to see more description of Deleon in the synopsis. It's also a bit unclear whether he faces more danger from being infected or being eaten. You could be more specific about who the other survivors are, rather than just a rag-tag group. Don't try to explain the story in the synopsis, just give a feeling for the characters and the situation they're facing.
I hope you get some reads--the first ten pages make me want to see the movie.
I'd love to hear what people think of feedback they've been getting. I used the feedback option whenever it was available, so I'll have a good bit to report back on. I've gotten two evaluations so far and was happy how quickly they came back.
Bluecat: The feedback was short, but of course you don't pay any extra. I found it very useful. The reader let me know what was working well and where problems existed. Given the length of the feedback (about half a page), it was surprising useful for my rewrite. I also like the fact that Bluecat lets you request either the same or a different reader if you choose to resubmit.
Champion: I was really disappointed in this one. I'm a fan of Jim Mercurio's articles and while I know he doesn't do the first round reads, I guess I was expecting something "Mercurio-esque." The feedback was harsh and not at all useful. I've gotten pretty negative feedback before and found it useful (once I recover from the sting!) But this really was totally off, often contradicting what I've heard from other "professional" feedback on the same script. The reader didn't seem to understand that characters frequently don't say exactly what they mean. I could go on, but I want to leave this as a general topic about which feedback is useful. Speaking of which, I appreciate the fact that it included the information that I did not advance to the quarterfinals. No more worrying about whether I'll be able to fly to LA for those Champion classes [...sniffle...]
Now I just have to make the decision on whether or not to resubmit. Champion is only $25, but apparently I was so off the mark, that I'd have to write a whole different movie to progress there. Bluecat is $40 (yikes!) and I'm leaning toward not resubmitting there either. I am going to make some changes, but nothing major. I worry that if I chose the same writer, she'd think I hadn't done much work, but if I chose a different writer, they might not like it at all. I'd love to hear what others think of any feedback they've received.
I've spent almost that much and I only have one finished screenplay! Please do look into the group rates for contest addiction. And on top of being out all that money, now I'm depressed after getting my "YOU SUCK!" feedback from Champion. Sigh.
Jim, thanks for the words of encouragement. I may resubmit, knowing that I'll get a different reader. I'll at least wait until I get some more feedback to make a decision as the deadline is still pretty far away.
James, my email said May 3 was the resubmit deadline. Of course I have to get my rewrite done by May 1 for Nicholl, so if I resubmit to Bluecat it will probably be on May 1.
Too bad it's a tagline--I like it! I think the synopsis is way better now. You have a word left out in the last sentence: "Will Deleon prove to _be_ their damnation..."
James, had I known about SUPER DRAFT, I would never have given you the resubmit info! Now I'll have no choice but to put together SUPER DUPER DRAFT (from materials dug up at local cemeteries and hospital morgues) and send it in. Good luck to you, sir....BWAAHAHAHAHAAA
Nick, Yep, this one is horror and I definitely find I get different notes from horror aficionados and [ahem] normal people. I like contests that ask for your genre and try to send it to someone who at least has a chance of enjoying it. Now I can't remember if either Bluecat or Champion did this.
Bobbette, I like PAGE's categories because they put thriller and horror together. My script is a horror/thriller and I don't like to choose between those two categories when they're separated. (Oddly, I once took a film class on science fiction, horror and musicals!)
Ron, thanks for the suggestions on worthwhile feedback. I'm waiting for my feedback from PAGE and ScriptSavvy, I haven't heard of Xtreme Screenwriting--will have to look into that one. I agree about finding a writer's group. Mine doesn't have any pros, but I still get a lot of excellent (and free!) feedback.
Right now my eyeballs are falling out after spending the day rewriting for Nicholl based on the notes from Bluecat and my local group. Okay, they've fallen out. Time to stop writing.
Congrats Stephen, Robert, Cheryl, and Irin. I hope you all get a lot of reads!
James Schannep and I are there in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror category. I now find myself wishing his script were not quite so intriguing...
Nevertheless, congrats to everyone!
Okay, you talked me into it! If I were a savvy shopper, I'd wait and spend only $25 for a resubmission, but I've determined that I simply can't wait until August to find out if I make the QF.
PLEASE, PLEASE, may the gods grant me a different reader this time!
(At least I escaped from WAB otherwise unscathed--I didn't even look at all those lovely contests waiting in the seemingly innocent drop-down box.)
June, I had sent in my "final version" in early April. I then sent in the "final final version" at the beginning of the month and Jim replied that they were still waiting for the grand prize winner to finish his revision. I know he got three coverage/evaluations as part of his prize, which must be a bit overwhelming. But I do wish he'd finish up soon!
I admit to not knowing what present progressive tense is (sorry Mrs. Ferguson et. al!). But
"Bob, looking into the trunk while two men approach from the shadows."
doesn't sound like a proper sentence at all. Do you mean something more like ""Bob, looking into the trunk while two men approach from the shadows, grins to himself."?
This is a proper sentence, but not a good one to me. For your original, I'd just say "Bob looks into the trunk. Two men approach from the shadows." or if you prefer longer sentences, "Bob looks into the trunk while two men approach from the shadows."
Or have I completely missed the point of your question?
Thanks! Congrats to everyone else who advanced.
James, I'll continue to be afraid--seems to have worked so far!
I think it's dependent on the group and on the individual. I enjoy my screenwriters' group all the more because I'm NOT in LA or NY. It's nice to have people to interact with in person who can discuss a movie in screenplay terms.
I would agree that feedback tends to be "too nice," but I still find it useful. Even though we're not pro's, my group members catch logic holes, clunky dialog, unnecessary characters, and of course the always important grammar and spelling mistakes.
If my group had one of those "bad" people -- the ones who are bossy self-proclaimed geniuses who put others down -- I'd kick them out quickly. Those people are bad for everyone! But if you can find a nice group where people are around the same level and you all get along, it's good for the writer's mental health and for the writing. (Though I find professional coverage is still a necessity).
Congrats Robert (and also to Mike Doyle, should he ever discover this thread)!
James, I'll hold that statuette over my head when I make my speech, shouting "This is for James!"--
What's that? No statuettes? No on-stage acceptance speech? No guarantee of placing in my genre?!
I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope all remaining MB'ers get to the winner's circle!
Thanks everyone! Big congrats to Robert on nabbing 1st in comedy!
James, still no statuette to wave around, but glad I could take 3rd on our behalf.
Eesh, I hate loglines, but here's a new one I'm thinking of going with: "A true crime writer celebrates the worst bad guys in her sordid books, but finds herself on the other side of the page when she is kidnapped by a serial killer with his own hidden agenda."
Congrats Mike! I was entered for April as well and glad to see a MB'er win!
Applause and congrats Michael (with a lovely cricket accompaniment)!
Carl, I also thought the StoryPro's feedback was worth the price on it's own. The reader clearly paid close attention and gave very useful notes. When I get a moment, I'm going to revive my "Feedback on Feedback" thread which is buried around here somewhere.
I placed third in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror category and everything's gone well so far. Jeff sent an email letting winners know that we have to tell them if we want our script read by Elements Entertainment (since people who have an agent or manager already might not want that) and also how much, if any, of our script is to be linked from their "Winner's Circle."
I'm furiously working on integrating some of the notes in a rewrite, so that's all I have to report for now! I'll keep you guys posted....
I would find a list with more information helpful. Maybe an overall list of contest names and how many people reported getting reads (more important!) or not getting reads. Everyone is going to have their own requirements, but for me a contest is not out of bounds just because a few people did not get reads. Lots of people enter scripts in contests that are good, but not very marketable. Companies may choose to ignore these scripts no matter how hard a contest pushes them.
StoryPros does guarantee ONE read from a management company that has agreed to read all the winners. Obviously in this case, they should follow through even if they know they aren't interested.
(And I don't mean to suggest that Janet should change her list, just saying what kind of list I would find useful.)
I enjoyed reading the winner descriptions -- sounds like a contest for Important Screenplays About Serious Topics and therefore one which I should definitely not enter!
My screenplay features a 1968 Ford Galaxie. Can I enter if I change it to a 1968 Ford Galaxie HYBRID?
Brooke, First off, I'd totally take Irin up on that offer if I were you! While you're waiting for that feedback, you might want to think about whether you really want to be part of a writing team, or if you just need a mentor for a short time. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio give this advice (from their excellent website wordplayer.com):
"Determine your writing-partner situation. Basically, do you want to work with a partner on this or on your own? Remember that, the impact you make in the industry is what will define you in the industry's eyes. If you create an impression of being part of a writing team, that's what they'll think of you as, and the only offers you may get will be offers to write as a team. "
If you aren't really into book-larnin' you may be better off just reading tons of scripts. Check out the WGA's top 101 (http://www.wga.org/subpage_newsevents.aspx?id=1807). More recent scripts are better to figure out current standards, but the classics are interesting as well. I also like to read scripts on scriptshadow.com and do my own analysis before I read Carson's, to see what I'm catching and what I'm missing. Go through the archives and look for scripts in your genre.
Congrats to all the Bluecat QF's!
I'm just going to go cry in my reduced-for-quick-sale sparkling malt beverage and tell myself that Gordy Hoffman has a clear prejudice against twisted horror/thriller scripts.
(Will he make me cry more -- and drink more cheap alcohol -- by choosing SOMEONE ELSE's twisted horror/thriller to win???)
I don't think Bluecat is a stacked deck, as long as we know what we're getting in to. Gordy Hoffman posted on DoneDeal that Bluecat judging is a bit different from most. As I recall: each script is read by one first round reader and that reader gives it a thumbs up or down. Gordy reads all the thumbs up scripts and makes the rest of the decisions (QF's, SF's, etc.) on his own.
If you look at previous winners and finalists, there seems to be a lot of historic drama and quirky comedy.
Maybe it was a bad move to enter a horror thriller, but I still found the feedback useful. At this point, I'd rather enter too many contests than too few. I think I'm getting better (with the assistance of Irin's "Contests to Enter" thread) at deciding which contests are right for me.
If this list is really about contests that promise reads but don't deliver, I'm a little confused about what constitutes a "promised read." I did a quick look-up of the 10 contests and for most of them I didn't see anything in the prizes that I would call a promise that the winners will be read.
Specifically, Rhode Island, Gaffers, Sound Heritage, Contest of Contest Winners, and Screenwriters Showcase. Many of these promised some level of publicity (like website announcements or sending scripts to studios and agencies), but I couldn't find any specific promise that scripts would be read by anyone. Kids First and Action on Film had crappy websites, so I couldn't find their promised prizes. FilmMakers International promised a read by Radmin (the company that sponsors the contest). Movie Deal promised that the grand prize winner would be produced (so there's a read implied!), but no promises of reads to 2nd, 3rd, and category winners.
Admittedly, this was a quick and dirty look-up, but I'm curious if these promised reads are "official" or are they implied?
James, you may want to list your problems with cowrite on Irin's "Contests to enter and why" thread. Or maybe we need a "Contests to avoid and why" thread!
You might entice more people to read if you can say what your genre is and how long your script is.
Education-wise, there are tons of great websites where you can learn a lot. I'd recommend wordplayer.com to start and also check out johnaugust.com.
Scriptshadow.com is a great place to find very recent scripts and read analyses of them.
I got fairly positive feedback from the first reader, though a number of changes were also suggested. I resubmitted and the second reader was more positive (the only suggested changes were to fix a few areas of on-the-nose dialog and some minor formatting changes). I did think I had a decent shot of at least making QF's.
But again, it comes down to the fact that a different reader (Gordy) is making all the actual QF decisions. Even if the initial reader thinks a screenplay is a masterpiece, that doesn't matter if Gordy doesn't think it's really strong.
I'm disappointed not making QF's. But I also feel like the procedure is pretty transparent and I view it as a lesson learned. (Also, the feedback was pretty good, so not a total waste of money).
Congrats! The retreat sounds interesting.
Ask and ye shall receive:
I had to write a one-sheet for a pitch fest and a summary for a horror movie contest. Writing any kind of treatment or summary is dreadful! As a professional writer told me, "You can make any story sound horribly stupid in a summary." (It's a lot harder to make it sound smart and compelling!)
I have five(!!!) more evaluations, so it's time for an update! I'd love to hear what experience others have had with contest feedback, or general feelings on its usefulness. Here's what I've gotten back since the first two:
Slamdance: Included a logline and a pitchline, along with a ''one-sentence recommendation'' and short summary before the coverage. The reader gave some good structure and character notes, along with noting several small (and easy-to-fix!) plot and logic problems. Compact, but well-done. I found it useful in my last re-write.
Script Savvy: High expectations here, as I've heard so much praise on MB. I purchased the full coverage, so this was more in depth than the more typical contest feedback. The line notes with page numbers were especially useful. There were quite a few good suggestins, but other areas in which the reader didn't seem to get what was happening (in areas where other ''outside'' readers have had no problem). Seemed to be a bit of padding, but then again it was the longest feedback of any. The scoring system was interesting, but not useful to me for rewriting. I suppose it might be good to see where to invest my effort if I want to enter Script Savvy again and have a better chance at placing.
Story Pros: Had the best line notes, including small format/logic issues, possible changes, and what's working well. Spent time exploring motivations of protagonist and antagonist. Other readers had mentioned motivation as something to beef up, but not given very useful suggestions. Felt like this reader really ''got'' it. [full disclosure: got 3rd place in their horror/sci-fi/fantasy category]
Bluecat (resubmission): Feedback was fairly positive, short and amusing. Seemed written pretty quickly and didn't have many suggestions for change (slight dialog issues and a couple of format suggestions).
Champion (resubmission): Wow! This one was amazingly insightful. I'd have to read a script five or six times to give anything approaching the level of deep understanding and analysis provided here. Longest feedback outside of Script Savvy's and not a wasted word. Suggested some pretty big structural changes and killing a few darlings, but managed to do so in a way that respects the story. I guess it goes without saying that I got a different reader this time, as requested. Still didn't advance to QF....sigh
In short, I felt that Champion (2), Story Pros, and Slamdance (in that order) had the best feedback in terms of re-write usefulness and having a good understanding of this script and the horror/thriller genre. Script Savvy and Bluecat (1) gave a close read and pretty good coverage, but nothing really inspiring. Bluecat (2) wasn't bad, but not much of use and hard to tell if the script was read closely. Champion (1) was by far the worst and I'd like to see Champion (2) kick Champion (1)'s ass in the upcoming UFC Ring of Fire Script Reader Domination Cage Match!
I haven't had many reads (or wins!) but here's what I've heard back:
Based on reading my "one-sheet" treatment: "...I've decided it's not currently a match for [Company]. Nonetheless, I'd be happy to review loglines (only) of other projects of yours. If they seem like a fit, I'll request them."
Based on reading my script (horror/thriller): "...unfortunately I think it runs too dark for us, so it's a pass."
Congrats on making semi's, everyone! Looks like you just have a month to wait for the final word.
I was a little confused by the first e-mail I got from PAGE today, which said "Congratulations! You have advanced to Round 2 with [blank]!"
But now they've fixed it and despite my paranoid delusions, it looks I did advance. Anyone else get a a little happiness in their in-box today?
Congrats all (and in some cases, double and triple congrats)!
Does anyone know if the quarterfinals are 10% of all entries (would be about 440 QF's) or 10% of 2nd rounders (about 110 QF's)?
I like to get caught up in statistics so I can quit worrying.
I was thinking that was some pretty harsh judging if they couldn't find 20 scripts that were good enough to be finalists! Sadly they didn't add my name as one of the additional two.
There's quite the viral thread over at DDP on the Margaux Froley/Silver Screenwriting dust-up: http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=56014
Here's a cache of the original thread which has since been removed: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ElCk-69hNMoJ:thisisyourpilotspeaking.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/first-10/+%22I+had+a+few+things+pop+up+last+night+%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
The author posted a retraction in which which she apologized for her tone, but not for her actions: http://thisisyourpilotspeaking.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/retraction/
In short, this contest judge, who is apparently a judge for Silver Screenwriting (though that is possibly not the contest in question), bragged about going through 75 scripts in 3 hours. This is less than 2.5 minutes per script. Her post certainly was snarky, but it was the content that was really disturbing. She will pass on a script if the title page is not correctly formatted and may pass if the writer is not from LA or the script has a distant setting or if it contains quaint vocabulary such as the word "nattily." She appears to have not read more than 10 pages even of the "good" scripts.
Some people in the thread defend her, saying this is the same way studio execs, agents and managers evaluate screenplays. Of course the big difference is that the screenwriter is not paying execs, agents or managers to judge fairly between a set of scripts.
Maybe all contests should go the BlueCat route and give at least minimal feedback to reassure writers that their pages are being read.
Do most MB'ers assume that most contests are not reading the full script? If so, how much do you expect them to read -- 25 pages? 10? 2? Possibly just the title page?
I think there is at least an implied agreement that if they take your money they will read the whole script. If not, they should state so clearly and up front. Or am I just hopelessly naive?
I really appreciate the big-time pro's (Max Adams, James Lowell, Greg Beal, and a number of others over on DDP) looking out for us newbies! It would be very easy for all of them to just stay out of it and not worry about those who are struggling. Thank you!
I have yet to see a defense of Margaux that I buy. She wrote an apology and only apologized for her tone, not her actions. If she said she threw out screenplays that were terribly written after two pages, I'd have more sympathy. Even if we assume that advice such as "don't write a movie set outside LA or NY" was hyperbole, she never admits it's unfair to judge 75 scripts in 3 hours.
While I wish the best of luck to everyone who made QF's in Silver Screenwriting, I will be crossing it off my list. Margaux erased the post in which she claimed this was not about Silver, and Julie has said nothing. Contest entries are pretty much a lottery anyway and I don't like the odds on this one right now.
Do any of the people defending Marguax think 75 scripts in 3 hours is reasonable? I still think that contests should state up front if they don't read the whole script. But I don't have a big issue with throwing a script out after 20 or 25 pages if it's really awful. I think reading less than 10 pages is just inexcusable (and I'm talking here about contest judges reading the scripts of contestants who paid a fee).
As for the money, quick and dirty calculations show that this contest brought in about $55,000. Cash prizes total $2000. I can't believe the total prize packages are worth more than $10,000, so that leaves $43,000. Cut off another $3000 for, I dunno, judge's dinner? Now, let's say those top 50 scripts are treated with some nice coverage in the next round at $120 a pop (total of $6000). That leaves $37,000 to pay the initial round judges. So if Margaux got paid $37/script for her judging, she just made off with a nice hourly rate of $925. Yeah, okay, I guess that sounds pretty fair after all.
Blacklisting, seriously? Is there a Godwin's Law of Blacklisting Analogies(*) that applies to screenwriting forums? But I do appreciate the respect you show for the great power I wield here at Moviebytes!
I did enter Silver Screenwriting and have talked about it on MB (I complimented them for getting back to me quickly after I had some technical problems uploading my screenplay).
I also failed to advance in BlueCat and Champion. In my ''blacklisting'' of BlueCat I said that I would not enter another horror/thriller in this contest, as there aren't any BlueCat winners in that genre. I also said their notes were pretty good and that they'd given my script a fair read. I guess I haven't yet blacklisted Champion as I don't know if I will re-enter. I said Champion's first set of notes were awful, but still indicated the reader had read the script. I said that Champion's second set of notes were the best contest feedback I received and incredibly insightful. Because I just say hateful things like that when I don't advance to QF.
So, ''David Barkley,'' can you tell me which part of ''I will be crossing Silver Screenwriting off my list'' constitutes blacklisting? Would you like a complete list of all contests I'm not entering so that you can detail them on the ''Moviebytes Un-American Activities Committee'' entry you are preparing for me at Wikipedia?
It's interesting that Stephen Hoover had no problem posting his (pro-Silver) opinion under his real name. I respect the fact that he isn't afraid of ''making the impression that he's sucking up.'' His opinion is perfectly reasonable, I just don't happen to agree with it.
The Last Airbender screwed up my weekend as well (at least it wasn't my birthday -- so sorry Bobbette!)
I didn't know anything about it going in, so the best part was when I almost fell out of my chair laughing at the big reveal of Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi as the major bad-ass villain!
Here's one of my favorite Aasif segments (and way more worth your time than the Airbender movie): http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-23-2007/amnesty-unintentional
Thanks for your input on this topic. I agree with everything you've said (including the defense of the opening of Inglourious Basterds!) I don't know why some people are so down on anyone who suggests any contest is not completely on the up-and-up.
And God help you if you question a contest you entered and didn't advance in -- then it matters not how much time you've put into writing, rewriting, reading scripts and books, taking classes, etc. etc. because you've been outed as a whiner blaming contests for your lack of success!
Oops, back from that mini-rant.... I don't think you or anyone else gave the least indication that Stephen, Irin and Robert didn't deserve their placements (as if those guys don't have a proven track record).
I enjoyed discussing how many pages a judge should read and the ethics of Margaux's actions. Not sure how it went downhill so quickly. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
Thanks to everyone else who was interested in the discussion and in particular to James, who called out "David Barkley" on using his pseudonym for nefarious purposes. I knew that poser was going to be bad news! (Don't worry "David," I'm just "kidding" -- and under my real name, no less).
Very interesting--thanks for pointing out this article. My husband is an Army vet (and I am a latte-drinking, public radio-supporting hippy), so I HAVE seen Platoon and Black Hawk Down and (feels like) every single movie about WWII. Also had to watch Pork Chop Hill because it's about my husband's great uncle (really!)
I've also come to share some pet peeves (which probably bug you guys too): badly executed salutes, incomprehensible insignia, too-long hair, lieutenants who are invariably incompetent fools, and the phrase "over and out."
I do love having my husband around when I need guns or helicopters in my screenplay!
William Goldman's book, Adventures in the Screen Trade, has a great chapter about A Bridge Too Far and the challenges he faced in writing this biographical WWII movie.
I hope you'll stay! I always enjoy reading your weekend reviews.
I don't think Julie did herself any favors with that HuffPo article. There were some over-the-top nasty things said (on DDP), but there were mostly reasonable arguments on both sides. I don't know if she thinks of the folks on Moviebytes who criticized Margaux and/or her as trolls, but most of us do use our real names and I didn't see anything nasty written here.
I agree with the mod who James reposted. And on the more general topic of what should or shouldn't be said on Moviebytes, I don't see it as harmful to post any thoughts we have about contests here on a contest forum. We're all intelligent enough to see if some people are bashing every single contest simply because they failed to advance vs. thoughtful criticism. Nobody is forced to take anyone else's advice, pro or con.
I hope the current Silver thread is the first and last "winner's only" thread. Though all is forgiven if Stephen actually posts a "Leave Julie Alone!!!" video on youtube!
Finally, here's what Greg Beal (who knows a thing or two about good contest administration) had to say about the current situation (in response to a DDP poster's defense of Julie--http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=56216&page=11):
The problem with this boring recitation of facts is that the "facts" as stated in various explanations posted by both women don't make much sense in many instances and, when they occasionally do seem sensible, usually contradict something stated earlier or elsewhere.
Having administered a screenplay competition for a few years, I have to ask why an administrator would only have the bottom 75 scripts "reread"? What about the next 75 highest scoring but not advancing scripts? What about the other 650 scripts that scored higher than the bottom 75? If you trust your judges, you always trust them about the worst scripts; it's the ones that just missed you always worry about. If Froley was indeed reading the worst scripts, how could she possibly send 20 of 75 onto the next round? Trust me, if those 75 were indeed already the lowest scoring scripts of 1000 entries, there is no possible way that 20 of them should join the top 200 scripts.
There is nothing in the original Froley post or any of the follow-ups that convinces me she was reading the bottom 75. Why wouldn't she mention the status of the scripts in the original post? That actually would have enhanced her argument. Not only had she been able to blast through 75 scripts in three hours but other readers had already determined these scripts to be lacking. Instead, she wrote in her blog as if she were the first and only judge of these 75 scripts, responsible for ending the contest for 55 of them. Absolutely no reason not to mention that they were second chance reads, so far as I can tell. And then there's the math: if 200 scripts of 1000 entries advanced to the next stage, that's 20%; if judges were told that they should advance about 20% of their scripts, that would be 15 of 75. Froley admits to being generous, advancing 20 scripts. Sounds as if she were one of the original judges. Advancing 20 of 75 first read scripts when 15 is the norm makes much more sense than advancing 20 of the 75 worst scripts in the competition.
I saw a lot of MB names on a quick scan -- not even going to attempt listing them all. I made it with Coldblooded. Anyone else in horror/thriller?
Congrats to all!
Congrats James, and please keep us posted!
Congrats Andrew and I hope you'll stay in for the long haul!
Patrick and Robert, next 100 is pretty sweet, though you must have that "just barely missed the train" feeling!
I got the blah form letter with no PS (bottom 4000, heh). There's always next year!
I think Nicholl posts QF after the winners are announced each year. If you look up Nicholl on facebook, Greg Beal posts lots of info.
Good post, Stephen. I hope there are many judges out there like this one. I agree with all his/her advice and I appreciate the friendly and helpful tone in which he/she dishes it out.
I think one point especially important to remember is this one:
"The one thing I took from working in this competition was that a contest is just as much of a gamble as sending your script to a production company because there are a large number of factors that are out of your control."
Unless we want our screenplays judged by some kind of advanced AI system, the human factor is always going to be there for good and for ill. I, for one, will reluctantly side with the humans. (Even though my favorite t-shirt is "I failed the Turing test.")
Was anyone else waiting....and waiting(!) for the AAA results?
Coldblooded is a semifinalist. No MB names jumped out at me, but there must be some on there.
And out of 160, ten finalists to be announced (hopefully!) August 15. Tough odds, those.
Here's the link: http://creativescreenwriting.com/aaa/semifinalists.2010.html
Congrats all of you. I hope MB'ers will be 100% of the top three!
Thanks everyone! I think PAGE and AAA both announce next cut on August 15. Yikes!
Congrats, glad there are lots of MB'ers still in the running!
I didn't recognize any of the three names, but my favorite scene was far and away "Breach of Confidence." Go watch and vote!
I throw my vote in with "Move to LA!"
In the meantime, you may want to look into listing your barbie furniture (very cute!) on etsy.com. The audience there is more likely than the ebay audience to appreciate it.
I'm in the middle of rewrites on both my screenplays, so not even going to consider entering anything before the end of September. And having binged a little myself, trying to cut down anyway!
Results I'm waiting for: Early Sept: Shriekfest announcements Early Sept: Austin announcements (apparently by snail-mail?!) Sept. 6: Slamdance announcements Sept. 7: Creative World Awards qualifiers Sept. 18: Cynosure winners
See, I told you I binged! I think my expectations are more realistic now (i.e. low!) after a couple of my better feedback notes said that my screenplay strays too far from mainstream thriller into indie/cult horror territory. Just looking ahead for now and keeping very busy with both rewrites.
Good luck with your upcoming results James!
And apparently you forgot CWA as well because you and I (and quite a few other MBers) are on their prelim-finalists list!
I also asked for a refund last night and received it within hours. Kudos to Julie for truly making amends. I consider the case closed.
Hope to see our 3 MBers in the finalists being announced today.
Jim, that sounds like a great deal. I was not able to get my rewrite done in time to resubmit, but the most recent feedback from Champion was extremely helpful. I may have to start posting here every day just to be sure I qualify as a "regular!"
Congrats Robert, you've got to win it now!
That list looked around four or five hundred people! Makes me wonder how many entries they received.
Congrats to everyone and hopefully all the MB names will remain after the next cut.
Rejection came. At least there was some novelty in getting my first snail-mail screenplay contest rejection!
This was a great time to get good news and see my name still on the list! I had to evacuate from my house Monday for the Fourmile Canyon fire. As far as I know the house is still there, but won't be able to go back for a few days yet.
Congrats to all the other QF MBers!
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