Writers Wanted! MovieBytes is looking for articles. Call for Submissions
As you've probably noticed, I've added a couple of new features to this message forum. The first is an option to post a "profile" of yourself. You can post as much or as little information as you like, so there's really no excuse not to participate. I'm hoping to create a greater sense of community online, and we'll eventually be able to use this facility to search for potential collaborators, or other writers who might be willing to give or receive feedback. You'll also be able to search for other writers from your area, and other cool stuff like that, so please post your profile as soon as possible. For an example of what I'm talking about, click on the name above this message.
Note that to post your profile you'll need a password. I know, I know! You've already got too many passwords. Me too. I've tried to make this as painless as possible, though. When you go to the login screen, enter your email address and leave the password field blank. Your pre-assigned password will be emailed to you automatically, probably within seconds. You can then login and change your password to something that's easier to remember. Of course, if you forget your password anyway you can always get an email reminder through the mechanism I just described.
The other new feature is a link that will display all of the messages by a particular author. If you find an author who seems to make sense, click the "Show All Messages By This Author" link and you'll see all of the messages they've posted. Cool, huh? Please let me know if you have any problems with these new features, or if you have any other ideas I haven't considered.
Shelia ... Sharlene Martin was the producer, but I'm pretty sure she's looking for completed scripts and not just ideas. Here's the item as it appeared in the MovieBytes newsletter:
Writing for kids? Writing about kids? Producer Sharlene Martin of Martin Productions is looking for "wacky, zany" comedies that star kids 8-12 years old. She'll accept a query letter and a one page synopsis via fax at 213-656-9053. If she likes the concept, she'll request the script for submission.
The Elbow Soup contest has apparently gone belly-up. I got the following note via email:
Please inform your audience that the Elbow Soup Films' screenwriting contest has been cancelled. Those who have already sent their scripts to us and who also sent a SASE will have their screenplays returned shortly. They will also have their checks returned.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
david r williams, writer-producer, elbow soup films.
That idea is still cooking. I've got a web site that I do for a living, this web site, my own scripts and a marriage to keep me busy, so sometimes the new projects don't come along as quickly as I'd like. I'd really like this idea more if everyone was using the same software so properly formatted screenplays could be exchanged easily over the Internet. Even better, I'd like all of the script-formatting packages to read and write HTML so we could exchange scripts no matter which program we're using. I really HATE the idea of mailing scripts all over the country...
By my calculation exactly 7 minutes elapsed between the time Sara posted her question and the time Greg posted his reply. Image the response if she'd said it was urgent.
After you're done imaging the response, trying imagining it.
Skip Press is probably the most Internet-savvy of all the folks who write about the business of screenwriting. This book is an enormously informative directory of producers and agents with lots of email and web addresses and advice about how each company likes to be approached. Although the listings aren't nearly as comprehensive as the Hollywood Creative Directory, they're WAY more personal and informative, and may be even more useful to those of us on the outside the Hollywood mainstream. In addition to agents and producers, the book also includes a roundup of writing consultants, screenwriting software, and interactive opportunities. Highly recommended!
The Hollywood Creative Directory is touted as the "Film & Television Industry Bible", and while the theological implications of that are debatable, there's no doubt that the book is an outstanding resource for writers pitching their scripts to Hollywood.
The current issue of the directory contains more than 1,700 companies and 7,450 names, all of which are elaborately cross-referenced for easy access. Another especially useful feature is the studio deals index, which lists all of the companies that have deals with various studios.
Although the directory is virtually devoid of editorial content, credits are listed for each company to give you a sense of the type of material they might want to receive.
The Hollywood Creative Directory is also available on-line, but the web version is considerably more expensive. (One year for $99). My advice: buy the paperback unless you absolutely need electronic access.
Thanks, John. And thanks for posting that reminder, too. Hopefully peer pressure will inspire others to post their profiles. Once we reach of a critical mass of submissions, I'll create a searchable directory so you can list other writers who are looking for collaborators, looking for feedback, willing to provide feedback, etc. I think that could be a useful feature, but it won't work if people don't post their profiles.
I haven't seen this one yet, but it looks intriguing. Has anyone read it? It features interviews with various writers, producers, and agents. Here's the pitch from Barnes and Noble:
"Hollywood is indeed a town of dreams -- the ones up on the screen, and the ones in the head of every screenwriter with an established reputation, contacts, and a WGA card. How can you -- a talented writer with no connections in the business -- possibly compete? Well, those in-demand wordsmiths managed to break in, most with nothing more than guts and hard work. Now you can hear their stories: candid, tough, real talk about the business of being a writer for both the big and small screens. "The Screenwriting Life" covers it all -- writing for dramas, sitcoms, major studios, and the lowest of low budgets. Rich Whiteside talks to producers, screenwriters, and agents, and details the ins and outs of film school. An indispensable appendix features developers' comments on the latest in screenwriting software. Read this helpful guide and decide for yourself if you have what it takes to live "The Screenwriting Life."
The author is MovieBytes regular, so it's gotta be good, right?
I'll second all the good things you said about Marc: he's extremely insightful and self-effacing, which is a nice (and unusual!) quality for a screenwriting instructor.
THINK TANK, the follow-up to BOOT CAMP, is basically more of the same, with an emphasis on rewriting the script that you started in the earlier program. Frankly, I think the follow-up course is probably pretty important to get real value out of the course, since the six weeks of BOOT CAMP goes by so quickly.
A point of clarification: the names you're referring to are on the AGENCIES list, not the PRODUCERS list. The folks on the Producers list have contacted me directly, so I'll be surprised if they reject email inquries. The agencies list, on the other hand, has been compiled from a variety of sources and it could be that they've changed their submission policies after receiving tons of lousy email. That's just a guess. In any case, I'll remove the email addresses from the database as soon as I get a chance.
Thanks - I've posted those changes to the database. I want to thank everybody who's submitted updates. So far I've posted about ten changes. Keep 'em coming. There are too many agencies out there to keep 'em straight by myself. I'm gonna need your help.
John ... Emily's email address is:
She asked me to post this, so go ahead and drop her a line.
I'm jumping in a little late, and all I can do is second what's already been said. I haven't entered either one of these contests, so I don't have any first-hand knowledge, but Quantum Quest has a good reputation and has been one of the more accessible contests on our list in terms of providing us with information about winners, etc. I don't know anything beyond what's posted about ScreenCredit, but to be fair I haven't heard anything bad about them, either.
The WSF Contest and Membership fees this year are still $25, although both fees will be going up to $30 next year. Still a good value, though. The contest is obviously not as pretigious as some others, but you'll get (admittedly uneven) coverage from 3 different judges and if you win the contest you WILL get some attention. Also, the WSF newsletter comes out six times a year and offers some interesting and useful information.
The ASA strikes me as a similar program. They're apparently establishing themselves as an umbrella group for regional writing organziations, and that's a cool idea. I wish them success.
I don't know anything about BDR2000 beyond what I've published.
I haven't heard anything but I'll see what I can find out.
I wrote them a couple weeks ago and they said they'd let me know as soon as they made their annoucement. As I write this there are still a couple hours left in September. It's my understanding that current release CLAY PIGEONS was a winner of this contest.
Here's the response I got from my email to Troy Killian of the Miracle Spirit Contest. I'll leave the interpretation up to you:
"We are in the process of reformatting our contest. The response was great for the contest, but the entries we're not coming in. We did plan to extend the deadline to give everyone a chance to get there scripts in. For now the Miracle Spirits Competition is over and will be back in 6 mos. for a fresh start. Thank you and Movie Bytes for your help. Also everyone will be notified of this change today."
For the record: when somebody registers for access to this board, I send them a confirmation notice via email. In Mr. Bell's case, the email confirmation was kicked back to me as undeliverable, so his registration was removed. That doesn't mean his post was fraudulent, of course - could have been a email address typo - but unless he re-registers I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a response from him.
As you can see, I've made some changes to our message board. Most of them are cosmetic, but I've also added a SEARCH function that will allow you to search through all of the messages that have ever been posted here. Just click the SEARCH ALL MESSAGES link at the bottom of the page, and type in the keyword you're looking for. For you gear-heads out there, this search engine is fairly powerful and allows you to use relational operators such as "AND" and "OR" as well as wildcards such as "?" and "*".
Knock yourselves out.
Glad you like the bulletin board features, Steve. Just to test 'em out I did a search of our messages and discovered 14 messages, including these two, that include the word "ass".
Just thought you'd want to know.
In a couple weeks I'll be introducing a new MovieBytes service called "Virtual Workshop Space". Writers will be able to securely post their screenplays on the MovieBytes web site and then distribute passwords to other writers whose opinions they'd like to solicit. Each participating writer will be given a private message board (just like this one) to facilitate discussion of their script.
The service will cost $50 for a two month "workshop", but to test the concept I'd like to post a couple screenplays for a free beta-testing period. If you'd like to get some feedback on a new screenplay (or a treatment or an outline ... whatever) drop me an email and I'll fill you in on the particulars.
Abram becomes Abraham half way through Genesis.
If it's good enough for GOD, it's good enough for me.
I just got an email indicating that they're about to send results to 2,000 contestants. They wanted to get the results in the mail before they provided them to me to post online, which seems fair enough. Should be soon ...
This is a really tough call, because as a lowly webmaster in Chicago I'm not sure I'm in the best position to filter the legitimate from the other-than-legitimate. It's quite possible that somebody with no previous credits is a legitimate, creative, hungry producer. It's also possible that they're corrupt, phoney and incompetent. Andrew Burnett has indicated he has access to several million dollars to finance two movies next year. Do I know that to be true? No. Do I know that to be false? No. I simply don't have the resources to investigate such claims.
Frankly, I'm a little conflicted about this. These guys aren't paying me to be listed on Moviebytes, so I have no strong financial incentive to publish this list. I could limit publication to those producers I KNOW to be legitimate, but under the cirumstances that's pretty much the same as discontinuing the service. I want to provide writers with a way to get their scripts into the hands of people who are willing to read them, and that's not as easy as it sounds.
My advice? Don't be desperate, and don't play the victim. Write to these guys and question them. If you don't like their answers, don't send 'em your script. You don't HAVE to, you know, and you don't have to work for free. Writer's aren't especially powerful, but we're not helpless either. We can make choices. Maintain respect for yourself and the value of your work and you're less likely to crawl into bed with an unscrupulous suitor.
I meant ABRAHAM Burnett, of course, not Andrew. Sorry about that.
As you may have noticed, the first of our Virtual Workshops are now online. You can read the loglines of the scripts by clicking on the WORKSHOPS link in the left column of this page. If any of the loglines sound interesting to you, you can click on the REQUEST A PASSWORD link to request a password from the author. Once you've got a password you'll be able to download the script (Adobe Acrobat format) and participate in a private discussion forum about the screenplay. Hopefully this will prove to be a fun and educational experience for both the author and the workshop participants.
Let me know if you have any problems or questions about this procedure.
As you may ALSO have noticed, I've added a direct link to our database of writers. I'm hoping this will inspire a few of you wallflowers out there to post your writer's profile. You can post as much or as little information as you like, so there's really no reason to hesitate.
When you weren't looking I secretly assigned each of you a password, and you'll need that to update your profile. Don't worry, though, I've made this easy. Just click here and your password will be emailed to you automatically. Then click on the UPDATE USER PROFILE at the left of this page and get to work.
Crystal ... the trouble with a survey like the one you're describing is that even the most writer-friendly companies reject hundreds or thousands of screenplays for every one they develop. Under the circumstances, most those rejected writers will consider this a negative experience even though that's the nature of the business. Might skew the results unfairly.
One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read and analyze the work of other writers. If you haven't yet joined one (or more) of our online workshops, I encourage you to do so. There's no charge to participate, and no special expertise is required - just an open mind. So far we have scripts posted by Sara Cody, Richard Garrison, Tim Morgan, and Arthur Jones. Most of these folks are familiar (and friendly) names from this message board, and all you have to do to participate in their workshop is ask them for a password.
To check out the loglines for their scripts, visit our workshops page at:
I find myself strangely aroused.
I haven't even read your screenplay and this new character already bores me. Not to be glib, but drama really isn't about "evening things out." Creating a new character simply to address the real or perceived agenda of a politically correct audience simply isn't a creative solution to this problem. Work on your cop. If he's a well-drawn, fully dimensional human being I'm not going to hold his racism against YOU. Write your story and let the chips fall where they may.
Tim got busy with another project and asked me to take down the workshop for the time being. Hopefully we'll be able to put it back up when he gets some more time.
Both of those contests are listed here. Just select WF - Houston or WF - Flagstaff from the drop down menu at the bottom of this page.
I hate to promote myself too shamelessly, but if you're really interested in getting feedback from other writers you should consider setting up a Virtual Workshop on MovieBytes. Your script will be posted online in Adobe Acrobat format, and you can distribute passwords to other writers so they can download it. We'll also set up a private message board like this one devoted exclusively to the discussion of your script.
On the synopsis issue, hoo-boy! There's no tougher form in the world. Very few scripts, in my opinion, can be properly conveyed in this format. I don't mind writing loglines, but I'd rather drive a rusty nail through my knee than write a script synopsis.
I'm all for moving on, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. Which opportunity have we lost? Have you heard something that I haven't?
I think there's a place in the world for a Ralph Nader-type to monitor screenwriting contests and production companies, but that's not a role I aspire to. I'm just a lonely, spread-too-thin webmaster in Chicago and I don't have the resources to do that job effectively. I provide this uncensored message board to allow writers to spread the word about the contests and other resources that are posted here. Beyond that you'll need to make your own decisions, or restrict your surfing to my apparently more conscientious colleagues on the web.
In recognition of my new racketeering gig I'm setting aside my coke-bottle glasses and pocket protector and would appreciate it if you'd all refer to me now as Scarface.
I've been thinking Deep Thoughts about contests, and how we might build a better mouse trap. I've come up with an idea and I'd like to get some feedback.
The contest would be called the MovieBytes Invitational and the first round of competition would be open to anyone, and there'd be no charge to participate. Writers would submit the title of their project and a logline, which would be evaluated on a variety of specific criteria by at least 3 judges. The writers of the top 20 loglines would be declared semifinalists and would be invited to submit their complete screenplay to next round of competition. At this point there'd be a fairly steep $65 entry fee to cover compensation for the judges and administrative costs, but only those writers who have been assured of semifinalist status would be required to pay. In other words, this contest will require financial participation from only those writers who might reasonably expect to benefit from their participation.
The 20 semifinalist scripts will be evaluated by at least 2 judges each, and the top 3 scripts will be submitted to an industry professional for determination of the final winner. There won't be a cash prize (who I am, Bill Gates?) but the winners and finalists will be extensively publicized on MovieBytes and through press releases to trade publications and production companies.
Shameless Self Promotion:
James, I hope you and others looking for feedback will think about setting up a Virtual Workshop before you spend any serious money on consultants. You won't have to spend ANY money on copying or postage, and you can get some pretty opinions from your peers.
If this concept doesn't appeal to you for some reason, I'd be curious to know why.
Kevin: to keep things managable, I'm thinking I'd probably limit the number of first round entries to the first 200 submissions, which means I'd probably limit the number of entries from any given writer to two or three at the most.
Richard: I know what you mean about loglines. Not every script reduces itself conveniently to 2 or 3 sentences. Nevertheless I think this concept is sound because the loglines will only be used to determine the 20 most promising projects. After that the scripts will be evaluated in their entirety. If a logline isn't strong enough to make it into the top 20, chances are the script isn't strong enough to win the contest. That's my theory, at least. I also think that the emphasis on loglines is a fairly accurate reflection of the marketplace. If you can't write a compelling logline you're going to have a hard time getting producers to read your script.
As far as prizes go, I may be able to hustle up some free sofware or magazine subscriptions, but I really think most of us enter these contests for the exposure. In addition to the trade magazines I'll build a database of a couple hundred production companies and hit 'em all with a press release announcing the winners and finalists. That's not as good as 25 grand, maybe, but it's probably more exposure than you'll get from a lot of other contests.
The long-awaited Writer's Network finalists have finally been posted. Check the NEWS page.
Sheila, remember that the $65 would only apply to those scripts that advanced beyond the first round. That's the unusual aspect of what I'm proposing. You wouldn't have to pay ANYTHING to enter your loglines. That part would be free. Basically, I'm trying to elimate the gambling aspect of the contest equation. You'll only pay an entry fee if you're seleted as a semifinalist and can reasonably expect some genuine value for your investment.
Also ... I'm not sure what kind of distinction you're making between a logline and a pitch. Basically the first round of this contest would be asking for a 3 or 4 sentence description of your movie. I'm calling it a logline but you could just as easily think of it as a pitch.
Sheila, remember too that your workshop can be as public or as private as you like. Your script is password protected, and YOU control the distribution of that password. If you're not comfortable posting your logline/pitch on the Workshop page, you don't even have to do that. That way nobody will even know your workshop exists unless you offer them a password and tell them the address.
I'm not real comfortable posting these sales-pitch messages, but I really think these workshops could be a great way for writers to support each other and learn more about the craft of screenwriting. Not just the person whose script is being workshopped, but EVERYONE who participates.
James ... you can submit any kind of draft you like - that's entirely up to you. In fact, you could even submit a treatment, outline or script fragment if you wanted to. It's not uncommon (for me, at least) to get 40 pages into a script and get stuck. Sometimes the fresh perspective of another writer can open the floodgates.
The judges for the first two rounds will be writers with appropriate training or credentials. I'll recruit these folks from among the contacts I have here in Chicago and also (of course) from our MovieBytes readership. I want to use at least 3 judges on each logline and 2 judges on each script, so I'll need to come up fair number of qualified individuals.
I'm open to suggestions!
Of course judges won't be able to enter the contest, but they will be modestly compensated for their efforts. They won't have to write a critique, but they will have to provide a numerical rating for each project in a variety of categories. These evaluations will made available to the writers, so each contestant will get at least some feedback from 3 different judges.
Tom: you gotta watch those binges, man! Get some help before we have to intervene. Seriously, I'll probably announces that entries will be accepted starting on such and such a day so you'll have at least some warning. Then I'll cut it off at 200. With no entry fee I'm afraid I'll get overwhelmed if I don't set a cut-off point. Remember, too, that I'm going to try get 3 different judges to look at each entry. If I go much beyond 200 I'm not sure I'd be able to find enough qualified people to act as judges.
Jay ... part of the success of the project will depend on handling just about EVERYTHING over the Internet, especially the first round loglines. I don't want to deal with snail mail! In fact, I'd probably even require semifinalists to submit their scripts via email. That will save them the expense of copying and postage, and it will save me the hassle of re-mailing the scripts to judges.
Of course, that means the judges will either have to read the scripts on-screen, or print out their own copy. I'm not sure if that'll be a problem or not, but I'm going to try to recruit enough judges that nobody will have to read more than three or four scripts.
For those semifinalists who absolutely can't hand an email submissions, I might allow a snail mail submission, but I'd probably charge an extra $35 or so to discourage the practice and cover the extra postage and handling costs.
This is an excellent question. FAXes have an immediacy that can't be replicated via snail mail. I'll tell you a story. A few months ago a FAX was sent to a number of production companies anonymously touting the winner of one of the contests listed on MovieBytes. Apparently the MovieBytes contest listing was even included as part of the FAX. Almost immediately I started getting calls from production companies asking me how they could contact this writer. Since I hadn't sent the FAX and had never even heard of the writer, I couldn't offer much assistance. The incident does suggest, though, how a FAX can be used to create a fairly significant buzz.
Incidentally, one of the calls I got was from a producer who'd apparently read the script before the distribution of the FAX, and who had a VERY strong interest in the project. In fact, I believe they'd already started negotiations. He was quite pissed about the FAX and wanted to know who was responsible. For reasons I'm not privy to he was felt the writer had NOT sent it, although he was the obvious beneficiary of the heightened interest. I'm still not sure what lessons to draw from this episode, but offer it as simply as another example of Hollywood's inscrutable ways. To me, an anonymous FAX would be an obvious marketing ploy that I'd discard immediately. The production companies, though, seemed genuinely interested.
Marleine: as I think more about this, and talk to people, I'm starting to lean toward hard-copy submission of the semifinalist screenplays. There are strong arguments on both sides of the issue. Electronic submission would save writers the cost of copying and mailing their manuscripts, and it would save me the hassle of physically handling the scripts and distributing them to judges. On the other hand, it puts a significant burden on the judges to either read the scripts on-screen, which is hard on the eyes, or print them out to read later, which is time consuming and costs money. Since I can't really afford to offer the judges too much in the way of compensation, I need to make the process as convenient for them as possible. There is also the issue that you've raised: some writers might prefer that their scripts NOT be distributed in an easy-to-edit electronic format.
I'm still looking for feedback. Hard copy submissions would probably compel me to raise the entry fee to $75 or so, and contestants would also have to send in TWO copies of their scripts, since I'd want each project to be evaluated by more than one person. Again, though, these expenses would ONLY be incurred by those writers who have achieved semifinalist status. First round submissions would still be free.
Nathan ... the names of the semifinalists will be included in the press releases we send out to trade publications and (more importantly) to 100 or so production companies. So when it comes time to send out your script, you'll be able to cite your semifinalist status in a query letter. That's not gonna get you a multi-picture deal, obviously, but if you're pitching a script without representation it might help you get it read. You'll also, of course, have a chance to WIN the contest, which should DEFINITELY help you get noticed. You'll also get a copy of the judges evaluations.
Again, the important thing to remember is that you only pay $75 if you're invited to participate in the semifinals. Otherwise you pay nothing. Unlike every other contest, there's no gambling involved here. If you're invited to participate in the semis, you know your odds of winning are 1 in 20, and you know you'll be included in the press releases annoucing the MovieBytes Invitational results. Seventy-five dollars IS a lot of money, but at least you'll know what you're getting, which is NOT the case with most other contests.
Kim ... the criteria is something I'm thinking about, and I'll try to post some ideas within the next few days. In the meantime, I'm open to feedback. What do YOU think the criteria should be?
J.G. ... this idea is still in the exploratory stage, so there's no way it'll go live before Christmas. I need to recruit judges, program the web site registration and judging processes, publicize the rules, etc. There's quite a bit of work involved and my other racketeering obligations keep me fairly busy.
I agree that $75 is a lot of money, but I'm not sure how else to proceed if we're going to keep the first round free of charge. I could probably raise more money through a first round entry fee, but then I'd be taking money from a lot of people who aren't likely to derive much benefit from the contest. I'd rather limit the financial obligation to the semifinalists, who are at least guaranteed a certain level of exposure and credibility. I don't think this can be seen as a reading fee any more than any other contest entry fee.
MovieBytes HAS developed a fairly significant national following in the last few months, but we're not going to count on anyone actually accessing the site for information about this contest. Instead we'll snail mail and/or FAX contest results directly to 100 or so production companies. In fact, I may even open up the list so that contestants can suggest new outlets. That way if you're targeting a particular company you can be sure that an announcement will cross their desk. This serves my purposes by extending the MovieBytes "brand" off-line, and it serves the semifinalists' purpose by nudging open the door to these production companies. Obviously there are no guarantee that the companies we're targeting will read the announcement or care about the results, but if they're at all receptive to new material this type of "pre-screening" has gotta help.
I'll try to structure the first round evaluation criteria in such a way that each project is evaluated on its own terms, like this:
1. Does the logline/pitch effectively convey the tone and genre of the material?
2. Does the logline/pitch effectively suggest the thematic conflicts that will drive the narrative of the screenplay?
3. Does the logline/pitch present the leading character or characters of the piece in a vivid and compelling manner?
And so forth. By criteria such as these I think a well-written logline for "The Last Picture Show" would fare just as well as a well-written logline for "Aliens". Once we get beyond the first round, of course, each project will be evaluated on the basis of a completed screenplay, so at that point the high-concept vs. subtle nuance issue should be moot. It's true that a few bad scripts could advance on the basis of a well-executed logline, but those projects won't survive the second round of competition.
I've thought about charging a modest first round entry fee but I really don't think there's any point in replicating the format of all the other contests that are already out there. The idea here is to provide an opportunity for writers to gain exposure for their screenplays without the finanical risk of a $30 or $40 initital entry fee. We're admittedly placing a good deal of emphasis on a log-line, but given the realities of the marketplace I'm not sure that's inappropriate.
No offense taken. I want all the feedback I can get. This project represents an extremely big effort for a fairly modest reward, so I really don't want to proceed if there isn't sufficient interest in in the concept.
Good loglines don't always translate into good screenplays. That's a given. The point of this contest, though, is to determine the 2 or 3 best screenplays out of the 200 or so submissions. Given that objective, I think loglines can be a fairly effective first-round filter. While bad scripts can be written from good loglines, I'm not so sure the opposite is true. At least, it SHOULD'T be true. There are obviously exceptions, but for the most part I think anyone talented enough to write an effective 100 page screenplay is also talented enough to write an effective logline. To the degree that this contest compels them to do so, I think that's a good thing.
Granted, it's possible that a good script will be unfairly excluded from the semifinal round. In fact, I can almost guarantee that that will happen. I'm trying to make this fair, though, by recruiting at least 3 judges to evaluate each logline, and by eliminating that nasty first round entry fee. If I accepted full or even partial screenplays in the first round there'd be no way I could keep the first round FREE, and it's unlikely I could recruit multiple judges for each entry. To me, the most unfair aspect of most existing contests is being forced to pay $30 - $50 to place my fate in the hands of a single, VERY subjective first round judge. At least here if your genius goes unrecognized you won't have to pay for the privilege.
Keith - you're right. Publishing loglines is a much simpler idea than this contest, but I'm not convinced it's a particularly valuable service unless the material is delivered proactively to producers who have expressed an interest in receiving it. I just don't think it's realistic to expect producers to visit MovieBytes or any other web site looking for material. I'd like to provide that service eventually but not until I've assembled a reasonably large list of genuinely interested producers. There are probably a fair number of writers who'd be willing to pay a modest fee to publish their loglines on MovieBytes, but since my audience is composed almost entirely of writers and NOT producers, I wouldn't feel good providing that service right now. I need a little more name recogition first to attract producers, and that's one of things I hope to accomplish with this contest.
Anyone interested in starting a screenwriter's group, finding a collaborator, or attracting new members to an existing group is welcome to post an ad in our new classifieds area. Although I'm charging a token fee for commerical ads, I'll be happy to post non-commerical ads at no charge. Click below to post your ad.
Sondra ... you can post your ad whenever you want. No need to wait until January unless you want to, for some reason. If you're changing the ad once a month, that's fine. I wouldn't want to change it any more than that, though. (Not for free, anyway!)
Entry forms for the new Indie Screenplay Contest are now available from our entry forms page:
This contest is sponsored by Indie Slate Magazine, which covers filmmaking in the Southwest. The entry fee is $50, and the final deadline is January 15. (Actually, the fee is supposed to be $55 since the early deadline has already passed, but there's a $5 discount for grabbing your entry froms from the web.) You can enter additional scripts for $35 each.
On the Internet side, IndieWire.com publishes an outstanding (and free!) daily ezine. You can subscribe at their web site:
If you're in the Southwest, IndieSlate is a good regional publication for Independent Filmmakers. For screenwriter's specifically, there's Creative Screenwriting, Sc(i)pt Magazine, and and The New York Screenwriter Monthly. (NY Screenwriter and Script are both MovieBytes advertisers, so you should DEFINITELY support their efforts!)
Lucy ... if you'd like announce your group in the MovieBytes classifieds, just submit the form at:
Although there's normally $50 charge for the ads, I give away 'em away free for non-profit screenwriting groups.
James: unrelated booking issue. Are you having some kind of email problems? The confirmation message from your registration keeps getting kicked back to me as "user unknown." That normally results in instant banishment, but I obviously recognize your name. You may have inadvertently stepped into the Twilight Zone ...
Really? You'd think as the proprietor of MovieBytes I'd already know this, but I don't. Where did you hear?
The WorldFest Charleston Festival has moved to Flagstaff, Arizona.
Same folks, though.
Sheila/Erica/Peter: nah, let's let it stand. Untangling a message thread involves great pain and suffering. Since you weren't trying to deceive anybody I don't think there's any harm in one mis-labeled message.
Thanks for noticing!
Mr. Petterson made it, too.
The online workshops on MovieBytes are a way to distribute your screenplay to other writers for feedback and discussion. You send me your screenplay via email attachment, and I'll convert to Adobe Acrobat format and make it available for other writers to download. To ensure your privacy, though, the script is password protected so it can only be downloaded by those folks to whom you distribute a password. In addition to the distribution of your script, the workshop includes a private message board (just like this one) that is devoted exclusively to the discussion of your project.
The cost of the workshops is $50 for two months. Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks, folks. This win is particularly gratifying because I was starting to doubt the validity of my own opinion. When I first finished the script I sent it to my agent and she promptly informed me that she no longer wanted to represent me. (For those of you new to the business, that's not usually a good sign.) Early contest results weren't encouraging, either. I rewrote the script and sent it in to FADE IN on the basis of their awards in multiple genres. Since the script is NOT contest-friendly or politically correct, I figured I might fare better if it were evaluated against similar projects in an apples-to-apples environment. (As it turns out my reasoning was sound but irrelevant: they don't break the scripts down into genres until AFTER they've picked their winners.) Anyway, I'm quite pleased with the win and hope I can parlay the exposure into a sale.
The process I use to write scripts has evolved over the years, and not necessarily in a way that I'm happy about. I used to get an idea, then write a fairly quick and loose step outline, then execute a first draft screenplay within a six-to-eight week period. That was then.
Now the process is considerably more drawn out, and considerably more painful. Probably because I'm older and wiser, I recognize an idea's potential pitfalls much earlier in the process. While this SOUNDS like a good thing, it's probably the fastest way there is to suffocate creativity. I wind up obsessing, taking notes and outlining until I lose all enthusiasm for the idea. Then I abandon the project and move on to something else. Doesn't that sound like fun?
Actually, I should acknowledge that PROWLERS, winner of the Fade In contest, was written using exactly this technique, and it turned out pretty well. I wrote a first draft through a WRITER's BOOT CAMP course, and then rewrote that script endlessly over a period of about two years. I gave up on several occasions, but something always drew me back to the material. All together I probably wrote about three or four separate versions of the script, maybe 1200 pages all together. From all that I managed I find the story that I'd wanted to tell in the first place, but couldn't see clearly until it was written.
So that's how I work, but I'm not happy about it. I'd much rather employ the process I used as a beginner, but this may be an inevitable part of my growth as a writer. PROWLERS is about a hundred times more sophisticated than anything I wrote as a younger man, and it's also about a hundred times more personal, which I suspect is why it took so long to evolve. Apparently all this agonizing is the price I have to pay write scripts that are more ambitious than the stuff I wrote as a kid.
Thanks. Congratulations to you, too. I love seeing MovieBytes names on these lists, and it's happening more and more often. Not all of them post on this board, but they subscribe to our email newsletter. I claim credit for their victories!
Seriously, it's great that you've been able to get some recognition for a short script in two different contests. (You fared well in the Bad Kitty contest, too, as I recall.) I think contests are especially useful for projects with fewer traditional marketing options. I went the contest route with PROWLERS because it's somewhat difficult material, NOT high-concept, and I'm hoping the validation of the contest will spark more interest than I could probably generate with a regular query. We'll see.
If you're referring to the Disney Fellowships, you'll find their entry form online here at MovieBytes by selecting the Entry Forms link in the yellow box on the left side of this page.
There are a couple of interesting articles in the March/April issue of CREATIVE SCREENWRITING. The first is a roundup of Script Analysts by Laura Shiff. She sent a script she'd written to 17 different analysts in a wide-variety of price ranges and reports on the quality of the analysis she got. The best, according to her article, are Dara Marks, Jeff Newman, Paul Young, and Hank Searles. She gave honorable mentions to Melody Jackson, Peter Mellencamp, Lisa Cory, and Craig Kellem. Everyone else was rated average or below average, but she gave "poor" ratings to John Schoeni and David Hagen.
The other article is a round-up of screenwriting contests sponsored by Production Companies. Although the magazine was obviously skeptical prior to their investigation, several of the contests came off quite well, including American Dreamer, Christopher Columbus, Cynosure and Top Dog. Others didn't didn't get off so easily. I was particularly interested in their breakdown of the supposedly lucrative King Arthur Awards, which upon closer scrutinty don't sound quite as compelling.
As far as I know, Creative Screenwriting isn't on the web, so you'll need to pick up the magazine on the newsstand. Definitely worth a look.
The individual critiques varied in price from around $100 to $900, and I think the a Magazine spent around $6,500 or so on the project (I don't have the article in front of me; I can't remember if they quote a figure like that of if I did the math.) Although they didn't tell them who was going to be submitting a script for evaluation, the Magazine made arrangements with the anaylists to get their money refunded after the project.
I'd have a hard time justifying $900 for a critique, but the most expensive critique was also rated the best, so at least there's that much justificaton.
I think Allen's point is well-taken. A lot of these production company contests have an agenda that doesn't necessarily correspond to the agenda of those of us writing scripts. We want our scripts to be as widely and well exposed as possible, but is that a production company wants? Probably not.
It's also important to remember that nobody is going to buy your script or offer you represention just because you won a contest, no matter which contest you're talking about. The most you can hope for, really, is that you'll get your script read by people who might not otherwise give you that kind of consideration. This is not an insignificant advantage, but your script will ultimately succeed or fail on it's own merits. If you're looking to contests for something beyond exposure you're probably going to be disappointed.
I'm a Priority Mail guy, too. It's only three bucks, and the cardboard envelopes are free, and provide good protection for the scripts in transit. If I'm in a big hurry I'll use Express Mail to get it there overnight. Same kind of envelope.
In order to improve performance and reliability, we've moved our server to to a new location. This seems to be working well, but as you might expect there are couple of technical gltiches.
Question: are any of you seeing a series of numbers (184.108.40.206) in the address window where you'd normally see "www.moviebytes.com"? If so, please let me know via a message here or by private email. Thanks!
If you decide to go ahead with the workshop, please do register the script first. Although I think threat of theft is genrally overstated, registration is a small expense and you're better safe than sorry.
The contest was held last year, and the winner was announced here on MovieBytes, but as far as I know they didn't actually publish the winning entry online. The contest is sponsored by NY Screenwriting Monthly, so they may have published the winner in their magazine. On the other hand, the winner may not have wanted to make the premise of their script available to the public. They've got an 800 number, though, so you may want to call them for more info:
If you've accessed the site over the last few days you probably know we've had some technical problems. Our hosting provider crashed over the weekend, and it took a while to fully recover the system. Looks like we're fully operation again, but I apologize for the inconvenience you may have experienced during the Dark Time (as it's come to be known.) I'm looking at some upgrades to our service over the next few weeks. This will almost certainly result in some short-terms problems, but should result in faster and more reliable service in the future. Thanks for your patience!
I'd like somebody to compile such a list so I could point to it, but I'm not much interested in compiling it myself. It would be too difficulty to verify, and I've got other fish to fry. (Also, I'm lazy.) One of the things on my "to do" list, though, is the creation of a button I could include on each contest and agency listing that would automatically search this board for any messages about that organization. You could accomplish the same thing by searching the board yourself, but I doubt many people do that.
Don't underestimate the cinematic literacy of your audience. A series of shots in which your character is dressed differently, at different times of the day or night, engaged in different activities, will quite effectively suggest the passage of time. (If you had the rights you could underline the point by cutting the shots over the "12 Days of Christmas", but that's hardly necessary.)
That contest used to be listed on MovieBytes, but I removed them from the list when I could no longer contact them.
Although the synopis contest is similar to what I was proposing, this is not the same contest. "The Big Australian" is another contest from the same folks, but is also not affiliated with MovieBytes aside from being a kind and generous sponsor.
Thanks for the kind words. Check's in the mail!
I'll publish just about anything that's on-topic, and Greg Beal is one of the best contest coordinators in terms of supplying me with information. However, I think they sent me finalists last year, but not quarterfinalists. If he sends them to me this year I'll be happy to publish them.
I just got 'em posted. Follow the link from the home page, under "Headlines."
A number of folks have expressed concern about the recent issue of the newseltter going out as an email attachment. Don't worry, that was a one-time thing, hopefully. I actually didn't send it out as an attachment, but this issue was so chock-full-o-news that the file got pretty big. Some mail servers apparently take the liberty of chopping big messages down into smaller message with an email attachment, and that's what happened. In the future, though, I'll try to keep the file size a little more manageable.
Alas, anyone reading this website IS reviewing my work! I've got some major new features I'll be introducing within the next few weeks. After that I hope to return to work on some other (screenwriting) projects.
Larry ... I alerted Michael Farrand to your question, and he wrote back with the following reply:
"We moved the Contest earlier to make room for the Screenwriting Expo we were planning for January 2000, thinking we could be finished with judging by now. Unfortunately judging has dragged on an inordinately long time--can't really put too much pressure on the Hollywood producer- and manager-judges, although we may have to take some scripts away from one of them. To add irony to it all, we have postponed the Expo until January 2000. We will be shifting next year's Contest to June/July/August, so this year must be seen as a half-step toward that adjustment.
The good news is that the contenders for the five finalist spots in the High Value category have been named, with one in the Hollywood or Bust category, and these writers have been notified. We will be sending out an e-mail to the other entrants on this.
We also have a temporary website--www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Movie/7728--where all of this information is being posted.
HIGH VALUE CATEGORY: Finalist Contenders
The following six scripts have advanced to the final judging, which will determine the actual finalists and winner in the High Value category:
"Change" "Food Chain" "Dry Spell" "In Pursuit" "In the Presence of Our Enemies" "Weak"
One or two more scripts MAY join these, but we haven't received scores from judges yet on them.
HOLLYWOOD OR BUST: Finalist Contenders
Other contenders will be determined over the remaining weeks in August.
Thank you to all entrants for your continued patience. We all benefit from Hollywood producers and managers serving as Contest judges, but this can slow the process down at times.
Michael J. Farrand, Contest Administrator"
A few years back I read an interview with ... well, I think it was Robert Towne, but I'm not sure. In any case he spoke about the difference between a screenplay and a movie. He said an movie audience will forgive you almost anything in the first act, and almost nothing in the third. In other words, a slow opening can work just fine in a movie because the audience has paid for their seat and they're not going anywhere. As long as you win 'em over in Act III, you're fine.
With a screenplay, though, you don't have that luxury, particuarly in the early stages of a career. A typical reader will forgive you almost NOTHING in the first act, and almost anything in the third ... if they get that far. (I'm exagerating, obviously.) As an unknown commodity you need to sell yourself and your story as quickly as possible, but I'm honestly not sure this kind of appoach makes for good film-writing. In most cases I'd say you're better off letting the nature of the material dictate your pacing. If a reader can't tell the difference between deliberate pacing and bad writing, they're unlikely to respond to your script in any case.
As you may have noticed, we've created a new MovieBytes service called WHO'S BUYING WHAT. This service is designed to be an inexpensive way to learn which types of screenplays have been purchased recently by which producers and executives. If you've written a thriller, for example, you can ask for a list of all producers who have purchased thrillers within the last 12 months. Similarly, you can see a list of all agents who have sold thrillers. Or comedies. Or horror flicks. Whatever you've written. Pretty darn cool.
Going in the other direction, if you've made contact with a studio executive or producer but don't know the kind of projects they've been involved with, you can look him up in the WHO'S BUYING WHAT database to see a list of his recent script purchases. The service also includes an extensive database of contact information, so you'll usually find an address where they can be queried, also.
We'll be selling subscriptions to the service for $20 for six months of unlimited access, or $30 for a full year. Check out our free demo, and I'm pretty sure you'll agree this is a great price. (MUCH cheaper than subscribing to the trades, or other online services.) You can subscribe online via secure server with Visa or Mastercard, or you can send a check.
Check it out, and let me know what you think. You can access WHO'S BUYING WHAT by clicking on the menu option at the top of this page.
Click the "Who's Buying What" menu option at the top of this page. (If you don't see it try selecting the REFRESH button on your browser - it's a new graphic and you may have the old one "cached".)
Alteratively, click here:
Once you've signed up for the demo, you should be able to access all of the features of the service. If you're prompted for a email address and password, use the email address and password you used to register.
If you continue to have difficulty, be sure to drop me an email and I'll make sure your demo period gets extended so you have time to try out the service.
Glad you like the service. The "address book" database is quite extensive, but right now it doesn't include phone numbers or email addresses. That could change in the future, but that information is considerably more difficult to assemble and maintain. Email addresses change a lot more often than snail mail addresses, and you never really know if they're actually being used.
I'm also concerned about antagonizing the companies that are listed in the database. Some of these folks don't WANT to receive email queries, and a listing on a service like this can pretty much trash their email account. There'll be a thousand messages they don't want for every one that they do.
Interestingly, I sent an email query to a management company about two months ago. Never heard a word one way or the other. No response. I sent the same company the same query by snail mail and got a request for the script within two days. The next week I got another request for the script (from a different person at the company) in response to the email. Those folks are obviously checking their snail mail more often than their email. I suspect it's because their email is swamped.
In any case, I'm sure the WHO's BUYING WHAT features we offer will evolve over time, and I think the REAL value of the service is uncovering marketing prospects that you'd never have heard of if you don't have the time or money to scour the trades every day.
Wow, we've had a great response to the demo so far. Let me ask a favor. If you try the demo and encounter any kind of trouble at all, or confusion, please drop me a note via email. Although most users seem to be accessing the service without difficulty, Sondra and a couple of others have had a little trouble, and I want to get that straightened out as quickly as possible. Let me know what browser you're using, what messages you received, etc. The usual tech-support stuff. Although we've banged on the system extensively, it's hard to anticipate all the different computer/browser configurations people use to access the site. At this feedback is quite helpful - thanks!
Ron ... if you got a confirmation of your registration for the demo, you should be good to go. Look at the top menu and select BUYERS & SELLERS or one of the other options. You'll either be taken directly to that area of the site, or you'll be prompted for your email address and password. If that doesn't work, drop me an email with whatever messages you get, and I'll investigate further.
Who's Buying What is actually quite a bit different than Done Deal in that the information we present is extensively indexed. You can see script purchases by Paramount, for example, or script purchases by a particular producer or executive. You can also see script SALES by a particular agent, or agency. You can also get contact information for the individuals you ferret out through these searches. I think we're adding value to the information by presenting it in a format that easy to use and interpret. In any case I'm less interested in originality than I am in functionality and affordability.
Eric ... I pretty much agree with what you've said, but I'm not inclined to do anything about it, and I doubt you'd want me to. I don't have any real philosophical problem with writers touting their screenplays here, but I agree that it's a waste of time, like the old joke about an (ethnic) actress who sleeps with a screenwriter to advance her career. The folks reading these messages are NOT the folks you need to impress, although they can certainly offer support, advice, insight and other benefits if you approach the forum with the right attitude.
The posts from commercial entities are more troubling, but if anything I think they're even more self-defeating. Writer's aren't stupid, and I think we can all recognize a selfish attempt to get something for nothing. The folks who advertise on MovieBytes pay a modest but honest fee to deliver their message here, and hopefully everyone recognizes and respects that. I've got no problem with consultants, etc., participating in these message threads, but I sure wish they'd bring something to the table beyond a crass grab for customers.
My best guess? Coincidence. L.A. is a big town, but studios and agencies are fairly clustered in certain areas. I just did several searches for different agencies and got a bunch of different zips (90211, 90212, 90035, 91436) so I don't think there's any problem with the data.
A mechanism for users to change their passwords is on my "to do" list, but in the meantime you can just drop me an email and I'll change it manually. I'll also be creating a reminder mechanism to for folks who forget their passwords, because I know that's going to happen, too.
The lists of agents and producers are culled from the script sales data, which we've been compiling for 10 months or so. Therefore, if a producer or agent hasn't been involved in a deal announced during that period, they won't appear on the list. That will change eventually, of course, when their next deal gets announced.
I think I mentioned this in another thread, but I recently had occasion to send the same query to the same company, once by email and once by snail mail. The email query went unanswered for more than two months, while the snail mail query was answered in two days. I suspect that email addresses that are widely disseminated on the Internet are abused to such a degree that they're no longer accessed regularly by the folks we're trying to reach.
Subscriptions cost $20 for six months of unlimited access, or $30 for a full year. Cheaper than most contests! I'm trying to make this decision a no-brainer.
Yes, of course we accept checks. The transaction takes longer, of course, but you can mail your check to:
Frederick Mensch Multimedia
254 S. Greenwood Avenue
Palatine, IL 60067
Be sure to include your name and email address.
I wouldn't read too much into that lack of first-time writers in the database. We've identified first-time writers when that fact was included in the announcement of the transaction. In many cases, though, we simply don't KNOW if the writer is a first-timer or not. Sometimes that fact is considered newsworth, sometimes it's not. Sometimes a writer's experience in other areas makes the "first time" distinction a little murky. (Does a TV movie count? A TV series? A novel? An adaptation?) Personally I've been focusing my attention on those producers and agents receptive to first-time writers, yes, but also those who seem receptive to the kind of material I'm producing. Identifying those folks, I think, is the real value of the database.
I drop contests from the list when their web sites or email addresses stop working, and that's what happened to this one. They contacted me again a couple of days ago, though, to announce their winner. Apparently, once the deadline passed they shut down their email address, but they never told me that.
Am I the only one who views these peer review sites as yet another yet obstacle for new writers? I can see the value in this type of service as a mechanism for getting feedback and forging ties with other writers. As a means of gaining access to an agency or production company, though, I think the model is seriously flawed: a way for companies to APPEAR to be receptive to new writers with actually BEING receptive. If your ultimate objective is access, these services do nothing but INCREASE the number of people empowered to reject your screenplay. In addition to the usual cadre of readers and asssitants, you must now ALSO bust through a gauntlet other writers. Seems to me a well-crafted and well-targeted query letter can you a lot farther a lot faster.
I don't know of any sites that list ALL of the information you're requesting. Our Who's Buying What service features a database of script sales that's searchable by studio, production company, producer, agency, writer, etc., but the transactions are recorded well before final budgets and box office totals are determined. The Hollywood Reporter or InHollywood sites might feature the information you're looking for, but the subscriptions are very expensive and their searching mechanisms are not very efficient or easy to use. (In my opinion, natch.)
Small, sometimes-self-proclaimed producers are hard to track because they don't usually have credits. That doesn't mean they're not legitimate (necessarily), and it doesn't mean they don't have connections or influence, but quite frankly that's USUALLY what it means.
Once place to check for producers who are legitimately active in the marketplace is (Caution: shameless self-promtion alert) Who's Buying What, which lists recent script sales indexed by producers, executives, agents, and managers. For older projects that actually wound up getting made, the Internet Movie Database is a great resource. You'll find it online at http://www.imdb.com.
I think the best tactic for maximizing the positive reponse to a query letter is simply targeting the query to right people. (WARNING: shameless self-promotion to follow.) Part of the value of Who's Buying What, in my opinion, is the way it allows you determine which executives, producers and agents are most receptive to the kind of material you're creating. Sending a great query to the wrong people is an exercise in futility.
In an effort to make our contest guide a little easier to navigate, I've created a directory with about dozen different categories: upcoming contests, regional contests, contests that provide feedback, TV contests, International Contests, etc., etc., etc. Each contest can appear in more than one category, so this should make the list considerably easier to use.
In additional, I've revised the deadline text so that "expired" contests are a little easier to identify.
Please take a look and let me know what you think. I'm particular interested in any contests that you think I've miscategorized, or any contests that have upcoming deadlines that haven't been reported. (As you probabably know, contest coordinators are not always the most communicative people in the world.) Thanks for your help!
(You'll find the contest list by clicking the CONTESTS link on the main menu, above.)
Yeah, I was thinking about a genre category in the shower this morning. (I've gotta get a life!) I'll definitely add that.
Richard: a mechanism to allow user comments and ratings is one of the things on my "to do" list, although I have to admit it makes me a little uneasy, since writers can get a little cranky sometimes. That's no big deal here on the message board, where the topics are wide-ranging, but comments on a contest listings could get ugly. You know, an otherwise legitimate contest that misses a deadline could get slaughtered by impatient writers. I may try it and see how it goes. If it gets to ugly, I'll limit the input to objective ratings, and eliminate the comments.
It's quite true that not all script sales are announced in the trades or anywhere else, especially for TV, cable, or direct-to-video projects. We try to get 'em all posted on Who's Buying What, but a lot of the transctions aren't posted until several weeks or months after the actual sale, when casting begins, or a director is hired. Those events are often considered more newsworthy than the original sale.
It's true that I prefer Frederick, but I've been called way worse than Fred!
Who's Buying What does indeed list lawyer names when they're announced as part of a script transaction. That's as good a place as any to start your search for an entertainment attorney. Indeally, though, a personal reference is probably the best way to go.
Incidentally, please excuse me if I'm a little sluggish in responding to email or message board posts over the next few weeks. My wife and I brought home our first baby (a daughter, Molly) last week and I'm experiencing a bit of culture shock. I'm in the market for an email papoose that will allow me to hold the baby while keeping both hands free to respond to messages.
I can't delete Mr. Anderson's message without also deleting the RESPONSES to that message, or least the CONTEXT of those responses, and that's something I'm reluctant to do. I've been stewing about this all morning. For philosophical, practical, and legal reasons I avoid editing or deleting the topics and messages posted here. Mr. Anderson is apparently both a con artist AND a moron so it's easy to see what he's up to, but sometimes that's not the case, and those are the situations I dread. For the most part I think we're all best served when the message board polices itself. While I certainly won't let the board be hijacked by hucksters like Robert Anderson, I'm reluctant to put myself in the position of evaluating the ethical and moral integrity of every message that gets posted here. Quite frankly, I have a difficult enough time evaluating my OWN moral integrity without peering into the dark soul of others.
Yeah, one of the script sales I posted recently on WHO's BUYING WHAT was a sci-fi pitch called "Extinction" about robots who try to reconstitute human beings after they go extinct. Sony picked it up, I think.
There's only one database, but I only tag a transaction as a "recent sale" if it was specifically announced that way. The date that follows each title is the date the script was added to the database, but that might follow the actual sale of the script by several weeks or months. Script sales, alas, are not always considered newsworthy. Very often a new project will be announced only when a director is hired, or when a major piece of casting is accomplished. Since I don't necessarily know when the actual SALE took place, I'll add the script to the database, but I won't tag it as a recent sale.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Yes, although here's a "power user" tip: if you want to see all of the most recent additions to the database, regardless of when the actual script sale took place, go the search page (http://www.moviebytes.com/sales/search.cfm) and hit the SEARCH button without entering anything into the form. You'll see the 25 most recent additions to the database, and you can step backwards 25 at a time through the links at the bottom of the page.
To clarify matters, the new owners of the Sweet 16 contest and festival have promised that they WILL be refunding entry fees to all of last year's contestants.
Steve: I just updated their listing based on the information on their website, but it's probably too late since their deadline is tomorrow. Alas, this has nothing to do with advertising fees since MovieBytes listings are free. For the most part I count on the contests to keep me apprised of their deadlines but this doesn't always work. Some of them are good about it and and some of them aren't. I periodically try to track down deadlines for those that haven't contacted me, but with 150 or so listings, this is an increasingly cumbersome job. Luckily this site is becoming too popular to ignore. We've got more than 8,000 subscribers to our email newsletter, so more and more contests are starting to realize that it's in their best interests to keep us informed. Unfortunately, Santa Clarita apparently hasn't gotten the message yet.
Although almost all the report cards have been submitted honestly, there is at least one contest that seems to be stuffing the ballot box - you know who I'm talking about. I'm really disgusted by this, and I'm contemplating pulling the plug on this feature since this kind of behavior defeats the purpose. It's difficult to implement a technical solution to this problem since it's pretty much impossible to know who's on the other end of a free email account.
This is a discouraging development, and I haven't yet decided how I'll respond. I can't PROVE that the ballot box has been stuffed (yet), but it's pretty damn unlikely that this contest has attracted more entries than Nichol, and has earned approval ratings that God himself would envy. I have no reason to suspect this contest of any other dishonesty, but there's no way I'd enter a contest with so little integrity.
Terry: to review the report card submissions, go to the contest listing for a particular contest. (You can use the drop down menu at the bottom of each page.) In the yellow box at the top of the page, you'll see a link to submit a report card, and another one to review the results of the report cards that have already been submittted.
I've added them to the online list; I didn't realize they accepted entries online.
Write the script. I don't know think it's ever smart to second-guess a project that you're passionate about, but it's particulary unnecessary in this case. I just queried our "Who's Buying What" database and came up with no fewer than 18 different sports-related projects in development, including projects about boxing, baseball, hockey, basketball, golf and football.
Your assumption is correct, but the passwords are really just to reduce the chances of somebody posting a message under somebody else's name. Anna disclaims knowledge of the messages posted under her name, and one of her loyalists decided to teach me a lesson by showing me how easy it is to post a message posing as somebody else. He's right - it's easy to abuse the trust of a system that assumes its users will behave responsibly. Oh, well. A classy guy. We'll try the passwords for a while and see how it goes.
Sorry, folks. I hate to force yet another password on you, but I needed to take some steps to reduce the potential for abuse of this board. Please let me know if you have any difficulty with the passwords or it the board starts acting funky - I had to implement this solution pretty quickly so it's possible a bug or two may have slipped by. If you're reading this message, though, that's a good sign - you got on!
One new feature is the "logout" at the upper right of this page. There's no need to pay any attention to that unless you share your computer with other users, or access the web through a libarary or school or whatever. Selecting "logout" will prevent the next person who uses the browser from posting messages under your name. An unlikely scenario, but that's the kind of day I'm having.
Yes, I'm having a bad week! I spoke with my service provider this morning about the site's sluggish performance and learned that one of the sites with whom I share this server is having a big promotion that's resulted in a surge of traffic, slowing everybody down. They're supposedly moving to another machine, so things should pick up in a day or two. Sorry for the inconvenience.
They wrote to say their judging would be delayed, but they didn't tell me how late they'd be.
I hate requiring passwords, but I was actually a little relieved that the activity level here didn't drop off too signficantly when we made the change. Things aren't completely fool-proof now, but they're a little more secure, and I'm okay with a trading a little volume for a more intelligent and civilized level of discourse.
Ashley: I may add a feature to allow you to preview your post prior to posting it for real, but I won't be adding an editing facility after-the-fact, since that can lead to confusion if others have responded to the original post.
I didn't get a press release, so thanks for the alert. I've got the finalists posted now.
For better or worse, I don't try to dictate the content of this message board. There's an ebb and flow to the people who visit here, and also to the nature of the topics they post. People change, gain experience, and topics that were interesting six months ago can feel a little stale as time goes on. What can you do? Those same topics may be quite interesting to a newer writer, or a first-time visitor. Similarly, a topic that may have been outside your experience a while back could be interesting today. Who knows? I don't try to second guess this stuff.
Creating a "preview" mode for message posting is on my to-do list, but I've gotta tell you it's a VERY long list. I'm working feverishly now (in addition to changing diapers and writing screenplays) on a new module for Who's Buying What that will allow subscribers to manage their marketing efforts online: track the status of their queries, script submissions, industry contacts, etc. Should be pretty cool.
I just learned of a new contest offered in association with the Burbank International Children's Film Festival. They're looking for screenplays suitable for a children's audience up to the age of 12. Unfortuantely, I just learned about the contest today, and their deadline is in two days - August 20th. I've added what I know to our database, but if you want more information your best bet is probably to contact them by phone: 818-841-3901. Hopefully they'll extend their deadline, but since they're planning to announce their winners at the Awards Ceremony on October 20th, they may not be inclined to do that.
Well, good news. They HAVE extended the deadline through September 5th, 2000. The contest is a little pricey ($80), and they haven't indicated what kind of awards they're offering, but it IS genre-specific and well located.
Faithful readers of MovieBytes never die. Especially those who subscribe to Who's Buying What.
This is a new festival, but I understand the founders are the same people who founded the Santa Clarita International Festival, which also has a "family" theme. I'm confident they're legit, but $80 IS an awfully steep entry fee. You might want to call their phone number to find out what kind of feedback they're offering as part of the package.
If you're anything like me (God help you), you're probably not as organized as you'd like to be with respect to your query letters, script submissions, industry contacts, etc. To address this problem, we've created a new online application called MyScreenplays.com that will allow you to track your marketing efforts from your home, your office, or from any computer with access to the Internet. It's basically an online Personal Information Manager (PIM) designed specifically for screenwriters, and it'll be integrated tightly with the MovieBytes and Who's Buying What websites. It's pretty damn cool, and as far as I know there's nothing quite like it anywhere on the Internet.
We're actually ready to go with this sucker, but before we turn it loose on the public I'd like to have a few beta testers take it out for a spin. The service will be free to Who's Buying What subscribers, and you can access it at the address below with your email address and MovieBytes password. (In fact, since you've already signed in to read this message, you shouldn't need to supply that info again.)
Remember, this service is available exclusively to Who's Buying What subscribers, so if you're not yet a subscriber but want to test the service you'll need to register for our free demo. Otherwise clicking the link below will just take you to our subscription form.
So, here's the link. Check it out and let me know what you think. (Using your kindest and gentlest tones, of course!)
Oh, incidentally. If you're reading this message at approximately the same time I'm writing it, you may need to logout and then login in again for the link to work properly, since some of our updates may have been made AFTER you signed in. Thanks!
Funny you should bring this up. I'm working right now on new service called WinningScripts.com designed to extend the shelf-life of contest-winning scripts. Basically, it'll be searchable database of scripts that have been named quarterfinalists or better in the various contests we list. Producers and agents will be able to access the scripts by contest, genre, author, title, etc, and you'll be able to provide all the contact information you want. Hopefully this will allow writers to get a little more bang for their contest buck.
I'd like to get this cooking by the end of the year, but I'd be astonished if that actually happens. I suck at launch dates.
Thanks for the encouragement. Like writers, webmasters need a pretty thick skin. Since I'm a writer AND a webmaster, you can imagaine how grotesquely scaly I've become ...
I write in a number of genres, which doesn't necessarily serve me well. My two most successful scripts have pretty much been opposites of each other: a fun, spooky fantasy for kids that got optioned a few years back, and a dark, violent thriller for adults that won the FADE IN Magazine contest last year. People who like one script tend to hate the other. I've also published a dog racing novel and some short fiction in a magazine for gamblers. I'm all over the place.
Hey, Ashley. Had to put the kibosh on your image tag. We allow a little HTML here to enhance the functionality of messages, but we've gotta be careful with images and fonts and some other stuff because improperly rendered HTML can bust the rest of the page.
A free Who's Buying What demo is available online at:
I think it's a good way to get a sense of which agents will be responsive to the kind of material you've written, and personally I wouldn't worry too much about whether they SAY they accept unsolicited queries. While I'd never recommend sending an unsolicited script to ANYONE, a query letter is a pretty trivial matter. If they don't want it they can throw it away. No harm, no foul. If something about it happens to catch their eye, though, I'm pretty sure they'd respond even if they don't generally encourage queries.
The hipper-than-thou layout makes it somewhat difficult to find, but the 250 finalists are listed on the Greenlight site. Click where it says "Click here to to see the list".
We offer contact info for agencies and managers but not (for the time being) production companies. We're working on some new sources for that info, but don't have anything to announce yet.
The best way to get technical support is to contact me directly via email at email@example.com. If you're reading this message, that means you're logged in, so trying clicking the "Who's Buying What" link at the very top of this page. That'll take you to Who's Buying What, and ANY of the menu options you see there should be available to you. Once you've signed in ANYWHERE on MovieBytes, you shouldn't have to sign in again unless you've been inactive on the site for a while. If you continue to have trouble let me know, and we'll investigate further. I don't have much of a life so I can usually get back to you within a few hours.
A point of clarification. The production company address book feature hasn't been a part of Who's Buying What for new subscribers for about a year now. No announcement was made because anyone who subscribed PRIOR to that should still have access to the feature. (Renewing subscribers may have lost access, but I can fix that if you drop me an email.) Note also that contact info for agents and managers is still an important part of the service.
Why did we drop the contact info for production companies? Quite simply, we found it too difficult to maintain the information accurately at an affordable subscription rate. There are literally THOUSANDS of names to keep track of, and we didn't want to charge a subscription rate of $100 per year (as does the Hollywood Creative Directory) because most users only need a few contacts at a time. You'd be paying for information you don't really need. We'd rather to devote our resources to creating the best script sales information available (who's buying and who's selling what, interviews, etc.), and developing added-value services like MyScreenplays.com to further enhance your script marketing efforts.
I hope that explains the situation. Again, if you're having problems or have a question please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're deeply co-dependent around here and want everyone to be happy.
Hey, folks. As you may have noticed, we've just introduced a new service called WinningScripts.com. (You'll find a link at the top of this page.) This is a service we've put together to help producers and agencies find quality material from among those scripts that have fared well in screenwriting competitions. As you may know, the heat generated by a contest win doesn't last real long, so this is a way to extend the "shelf life" of contest winners that don't sell right away.
The service is completely free for both writers and producers. Writers can submit a description of their project (title, format, author, logline, genre, author biography) along with any favorable contest results. You don't necessarily have to have won the contest to submit. Finalists, semifinalists, quarterfinalists, etc., are also welcome, and you can even submit scripts that haven't yet won a contest, although those submissions won't be displayed as prominently as the others. (Our search engine is designed to display contest winners first, followed by finalists, semifinalist, etc., followed by all other submissions.)
We're in a beta-testing mode right now, so we'll appreciate your submissions and any comments you may have with respect to the functionality of the service. We've partnered with Scr(i)pt Magazine on the project to ensure the broadest possible exposure for the scripts that get submitted. MovieBytes is already known at the Internet's most comprehensive source of screenwriting contest information, so this is a logical extension to the services that we're already providing.
Remember, the service is completely free of charge, and you can submit as much or as little information as you like. Submissions can be edited or deleted at any time. We look forward to your submissions, and your comments.
I'm glad you like the service. I worked quite hard to make it easy to for both writers and producers to use, and it looks like I've been successful with that.
My first thought was to charge contests to participate, but I knew from painful experience that not all of them would, and that's why we've made this a free service. Not all contests are real agressive about promoting their winners, and even the best of them tend to forget about you when a NEW batch of winners and finalists come along. With this service scripts that don't get sold right away will have a place to live, and producers who may not have been looking for material when the results were announced will have an opportunity to discover your material down the road.
We're not promoting this real heavily yet because I want to fix any technical glitches that might pop up. (None so far, thank goodness.) Once we're confident in the platform we'll start some heavy promotion both on MovieBytes and in Scr(i)pt Magazine.
Yes. We don't require any special registrations from agents and producers because I want to make this as easy as possible for them. Eventually, though, I might allow them to sign up for email delivery of new projects, or email delivery of projects in certain genres, or that meet certain other criteria. I plan to wait until we reach a certain critical mass of submissions before I promote the service directly to agents and producers, although I imagine some of them will discover it fairly quickly, since our press releases are a pretty common trolling ground for prod. cos and agencies.
Quentin: With WinningScripts.com you post the title, logline, contest results, etc., but you don't post the actual screenplay. Producers and agents can contact you directly and request the script in whatever format they want. In most cases I imagine they'd prefer to get a hardcopy, and that's why I haven't bothered with an electronic transfer service. (Of course, there's no reason YOU couldn't send it to them that way, if they did want a "soft" copy.)
A number of you pointed out that you couldn't submit contest results for contests that are no longer active. I've fixed that shortcoming, so you can go back and add those results to your current listings. Let me know if I've overlooked any contests that have since gone belly-up.
Somehow the link to that feature has been lost, but you can still access individual profiles by clicking a users name on the bulletin board, or you can access all of the profiles on this page:
One of these days I'll put the link back on a menu where it belongs. (There are features on this site that even I've forgotten about!)
I'm from Chicago but unfortunately don't have time right now to make any short films. You should check out the Chicago Community Cinema Group, though. They have monthly networking meetings/screenings for the local filmmaking community:
They're relatively new, I think, and I haven't been able to attend yet, but it sounds like just what you're looking for.
You can still list your screenplay, logline, genre, etc., you just won't be able to list that particular contest result until they've been added to our database. You can either ask them to submit their information to us (it's free), or get me an email address and I'll invite them myself. There are almost 200 contests in our database, plus a few others that are no longer active, but there are also still a few stragglers that haven't yet been included. This is one of the ways I hope to bring 'em into the fold.
Thanks, Melanie. I'll drop them a line.
In order to make the service as easy and hassle-free as possible, I don't require a special registration for producers and agencies accessing the database of scripts. Therefore, although I track the number of contacts being made through the service (that's private, of course) I don't necessarily know which companies are making those contacts. I may eventually create some additional levels of service that require addition registration information, but for the time being I want to make it as easy as possible for industry professionals to access the material.
Paula, the contest was called the Daily Script Get a Life Screenwriting Competition, but they haven't responded to several inquiries, so pending further communication I've dropped them from the site. Their web site is still up at:
Paula: I really don't know. Since they're not communicating, I have no way of knowing what's going on.
Pending further communication from the company, I've removed them from our "Writers Wanted" page.
The magazine and contests are fine - they're just having some technical problems with their web site. I just spoke with Shelly and they hope to be back online within 24 hours.
Scriptapalooza has indeed extended their deadline until April 30th. I just updated the database.
It'll take a little programming to solve this problem for all the contests (I'll get to it), but I have fixed it for the Open Door contest. If you log on right now you'll be able to print out the coupon.
I can't speak for the other sites you mentioned, but WinningScripts.com makes no claims of any kind on your material, and it's free to submit, so there's not a great deal to lose. We do indeed list contest winners more prominently than scripts that haven't yet won a contest; providing contest winning scripts with on ongoing promotional platform is the idea behind the service.
The lastest version of Movie Magic Screenwriter will allow you to print directly to Adobe PDF format, so there's no need to purchase the full Acrobat package unless you need it for other purposes. (Final Draft may also offer this feature but I'm not sure about that.)
You can post information about your TV pilot on our "WinningScripts" service. (Click the WinningScripts link at the very top of this page.) Our search engine gives preference to contest winning scripts, but anyone can submit, even if you haven't yet won a contest.
Realistically, WinningScripts is probably a valuable service for screenwriters than television writers, since TV is more of an insiders game, and producers on that side are less likely to scour the net for material. (My opinion.)
Yes, I believe Didi and Miriam are correct. I spoke with the McKnight folks a while back but if I remember correctly they didn't want to list the contest since they are in fact only open to residents of Minnesota.
If you quarterfinalists would like to be included in an article to be published on MovieBytes and included in our next newsletter, please send me a logline of your script. (In the body of an email to: email@example.com.)Nicholl scripts are read "blind" throughout the judging, so they don't distribute the list of quarterfinalists to the media.
Congratulations, incidentally ...
Ashley: what kind of problems? Seaching by a writer's name shouldn't be a problem at all. The only issue I can think of is the indexing of the database, which generally happens once a day. In other words, upon submission your script won't be visible to the search engine until we do the next index.
For the record, that has been a surge in activity recently from production companies and agencies contacting writers through WinningScripts. We seem to have reached a point where folks in the industry are now aware of the service. These aren't the biggest players, necessarily, but that doesn't mean that they can't help you advance your career.
Not only can you add new contest results as they become available, you can revise your logline and/or biography at any time. I get very few customer support questions about this, so once you play around with the service a bit I think you'll find it pretty easy to use.
Actually, the Fade In results were announced a while ago (they're for the 2000 contest), but we they weren't sent to us immediately. We just got them posted this morning.
I dropped the contest from the list because I hadn't been able to contact them via email or telephone. I hope it's a just a communications breakdown, but I don't have any other information right now.
First, an apology. Some technical problems knocked us offline for most of today, and also for a few hours yesterday and the day before that. Nasty stuff. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Alas, as an unavoidable consequence of these problems we were forced to restore one of our databases from backup, and it's several days old. That means that all of the messages posted since Saturday have disappeared into the ether. They'll be missed! I think as time goes on all of us will remember those messages as among the most witty, literate and insightful ever posted. Such is the power of myth.
The MovieBytes world headquarters, of course, is located here in Palatine. Caught the article in SCREEN Magazine, incidentally, Colin, touting you among Screen's Best 2001. Congratulations.
Wow, my own topic! Thanks very much for your kind wishes. Happy Holidays to you folks, too.
Okay, done. This has actually been on my "to do" list for several months but something with a higher priority has always come along. In any case, you'll now find a "Last Updated" date at the bottom of each listing.
I'm pretty sure he knows about WinningScripts, but I don't know how often he goes there. If you've got a script he might like, I certainly wouldn't assume he's seen it and passed just because it's listed there.
No, but I respond when I feel a disturbance in the Force.
I had to delete your other message. It was generating a browser plug-in error message and freaking people out thinking that some sort of virus had been embedded in the page. Please be cautious with HTML in your messages. I've left that option enabled so users with the know-how can include links, but an HTML error can break the rest of the page pretty easily, and there's no way to go back and make corrections.
I haven't heard anything yet, but I've got a message in to Ed Rugoff, who's posted here in the past. Hopefully we'll get some more definitive information.
Yes, my inner math geek compels me to point out that you'd have to live to be 1,000 in order to see 365,000 sunrises.
Although I'm not crazy about users posting under assumed names, I haven't done anything to disable your account. You may need to logout and close your browser before you sign in again, though. (And of course remember to use your Yossarian email address and password.)
We have a feature like that with our WinningScripts.com service. If you post a logline there, producers/agents or anyone else can contact you by clicking the "Contact Author" link. They don't see your email address, though - that remains private.
I could do some programming to implement that feature here, but frankly I'm not sure there's a big enough need to warrant the effort.
Collin: your name should appear correctly the NEXT time you post a message. The corrections you make to your profile don't take hold until the next time you log in.
I run a pretty loose ship. I prefer the users NOT use HTML in their messages, but only because improperly formatted code (an omitted closing tag, for example) can break the rest of the page, and you'll have no way to correct the mistake.
The winner was a writer named Michael Golden, another MovieBytes reader, for a script called 'Reporting Live'. I never got an official announcement of the winners from the contest, but Mr. Golden sent me an email.
Yes, and it's suitable for framing!
I'm not sure if this is necessary or not, but I'd like to emphasize that your names, email addresses and script info are NOT coming from MovieBytes. We don't sell or trade any of the information we collect, although we're periodically asked to do so. We even mask your email addresses on our WinngingScripts service so they're not harvested by spammers.
Given the sound and fury that has surrounded this topic throughout history, I'm pleased to have put the matter to rest once and for all.
Point of clarification: the scripts were added to the database today, but they were probably put into development over the last several months, possibly even years. Sometimes projects are announced at the time of the sale, other times word trickles out later, or in a big batch, as in this case.
As I mentioned in a different thread, the scripts were added to the database today, but they were probably put into development over the last several months, possibly even years. Sometimes projects are announced at the time of the sale, other times word trickles out later, or in a big batch, as in this case. They are an active company, though, and the two principals are both writers, so some of the projects are things they've written themselves.
Yes, it's me. I'm toying with you for sport.
Our Who's Buying What service tracks Hollwyood script sales, and is a good way to check if a project similar to yours is already in development elsewhere. It's not foolproof (nor are the other sites that offer this service) because projects sometimes go into development without any sort of public announcement. It WILL give you a good sense of the marketplace, though, and it's always a good idea to go into this process with your eyes open. The service is not too expensive ($20 for six monhs, $30 for a full year) and we have a free demo so you can try before you buy.
Wasn't me, man. Do you make a change to your user profile? Could have happened inadvertently there. You can change it back yourself:
Most commonly the 600k is contingent upon the film going into production. If the movie doesn't get made, the writer won't see any of that money.
Sorry, I don't have any information beyond what I've posted.
The contests listed on MovieBytes aren't pre-screened, and we've never made any pretense about that - a listing here is NOT an endorsement. We don't have the resources to employ a team of investigators, nor can we peer into the soul of a contest operator to know if they're operating with integrity. What seems obvious from the sidelines isn't necessarily crystal clear when it comes time to make decisions about who gets listed on MovieBytes and who gets excluded. The tricky part about this is that excluding the "obvious" scams implies an endorsement of those listings that remain, but who's to say those contests aren't simply less obvious in their fraud?
For better or worse, we've elected to make MovieBytes a COMPREHENSIVE source of screenwriting contest information, and that means we list some marginal contests. Given our resources, this approach makes sense because we can provide forums for the exchange of information about these contests in a way that's not possible in less-interactive media. In other words, on MovieBytes you can check our message boards and our contest report cards for additional information about a suspect contest; that's not possible when you see a magazine ad or listing. Granted, there's generally not as much information available about brand-new contests. For this reason I think it's a good idea to avoid first-year contests unless they're sponsored an organization you know and trust.
Don't worry, we're not going there. We'd have an advantage if we did, though, in that there's nothing remotely cool, hip or glamorous about this site. (Or me, for that matter.) The problem with Greenlight and TriggerStreet, I think, is those darn movie stars. They attract a lot of a wannabes who aren't necessarily in it for the right reasons, and that can distort the process. The folks who visit MovieBytes, on the other hand, tend to be a little more serious about their craft. I've always been grateful for that.
Colleen's right. It's a problem with the re-director. The new address hasn't gotten broadcast around the 'net yet, for some reason. Some ISPs will get you there successfully, others won't. (I haven't had any problems but I've gotten a lot of messages from others who are.) These types of problems aren't unsual when you move a web site to a new address, and they usually resolves themselves within a few days.
Hey, folks. If you have some time over the Holiday weekend please check out our newest service, WriterBytes.com, a suite of online tools designed to help writers present themselves online without any of the technical hassles associated with building a web site from scratch. Basically, the service is a mechanism that allows writers to create small websites (called ByteSites) that combine a weblog for online journaling with easy-to-use tools for uploading scripts, novels or any other writing project. And for those of you with message board envy (you know who you are), each ByteSite also includes a private message board that can be used to discuss your writing or any other topics that come to mind.
By way of illustration, here's a small ByteSite I've constructed for a novel I'm writing called A Gambler's Prayer:
The idea behind this service is to provide writers with an easy-to-maintain presence on the web that can be used to network with other writers in a way that goes way beyond what can be accomplished on message boards like this. As time goes on we'll be integrating the service with MovieBytes so that folks visiting this message board, for example, might click your name to visit your ByteSite and check out the progress on your latest script, or whatever information you want to post.
The cost of the service is $24.95 per year, but if you're a Who's Buying What subscriber you can set up a free ByteSite as part of your subscription by registering here:
We're also offering a free 7-day demo so you can create a site and test out all the features:
Your MovieBytes email address and password are all you need to access the demo. This is a brand new service, so I'd definitely appreciate your feedback even if you choose not to subscribe.
I should add that although the site I set up for my novel is available to anyone, you can also password-protect your sites so they're not available to every yahoo on the Internet. You could upload a couple of screenplays, for example, and then include the password in query letters to agents and producers. Or you could set up a site that's only available to other members of your writer's group. There are a number of differently access/security options, and they're all really easy to implement.
P.S. I'd like the record to reflect that although I could correct the typos I make on this message board, I choose instead to look just as foolish as everyone else. In that sense I'm a differently kind of webmaster.
The sites are pretty customizable. You can choose different page formats (1, 2 or 3 columns), and also different color schemes. We'll be adding new color schemes regularaly, and eventually allow you to create your own customizations. Changing your colors now is a one-click process that reformats your whole site.
At present you can't upload films. Actually, that's not quite true. You can upload anything you want, but since you're limited to 1MB of uploaded file space, you won't be able to upload a very big movie. You can, however, quite easily link to a film that you've uploaded elsewhere. I think there are sites that specialize in hosting films that can more easily provide the kind of bandwidth required for that sort of application. WriterBytes is designed more specifically for writers, not filmmakers.
I'm pretty sure the service will evolve rapidly as user feedback comes in. I've been using the service for last few months for my personal stuff (including a site for my kids - see the "off topic" Crosby thread) and it's really addictive.
You can upload in any format you choose, but we don't do any conversions, so your readers would need WordPerfect to access the scripts. (Or a program that can read WordPerfect files, which I'm pretty sure MS Word can.) You might be better off converting the scripts to RTF format, which is pretty widely recognized. PDF is best, though, because it retains document formatting so well.
They're listed here under AFP. Screenprize is the web address, but the name of the contest was "AFP 2002 Screenwriters Contest."
Thanks very much. Merry Christmas to all you folks, too. Maintaining this site can be a grind sometimes, as you can probably imagine, but I'm consistently surprised by the number of people who take the time to drop me a line of encouragement. I really appreciate that. This site has always been frequented by writers with an usually high degree of civility, and I try not to take that for granted. Merry Christmas!
Ron's comments are the truest words ever spoken. Producers (and agents, under similar circumstances) DO tend to panic in the face of negative criticism, and rewrites undertaken under such circumstances almost never improve a project, although in our desperation its easy to convince ourselves otherwise. When faced with someone who likes the "concept" but not the writing, it's almost always best to shrug it off and move on, especially since many, many otherwise bright people in the industry are unable to distinguish the difference between concept and execution. You can't please everyone, and it's a waste of time to try.
Welcome back, DG. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to get the DG treatment with a topic of my own. I look forward to seeing your movie.
Pending an explanation for this goofiness, I've removed the contest from our database, and also the associated news items. Absent an entry fee I can't fathom the purpose of perpretrating a fraud like this, if that's what it is. I've asked Steve Marsh, the Director of the contest, for an explanation. If I hear anything, I'll pass it along.
There is in fact a report card link on each of the individual contest pages. It's in the yellow box just beneath the contest address info.
Yes, I'm reading. I'm operating under the assumption that these coded messages play some sort of vital role in the war effort.
Thanks. I've tweaked the site a bit. In addition to some minor cosmetics, I've updated the contest listings to feature the report cards and comments a little more prominently. I'm hoping this will inspire our readers to submit more reports cards, and post more comments about the contests they've entered. One new feature that I think will be useful is a link to see all the other report card comments posted by a given individual. (Just like the "Display All Messages by this Author" link on thid message board.) That will provide some context to report card comments that's been missing in the past.
It's listed here:
I dropped them from the MovieBytes list because they stopped responding to my emails, and their website disappeared. That's not a good sign, obviously, but that's all I know.
The deadlines you're seeing now are for the latest interation of the contest, not an extension to their previous contest, which I believe did have an March or April deadline. If we post a deadline extension we usually mark it as such.
I saw that attachment, and I was actually slightly troubled by the references to MovieBytes, since the contest founder hasn't contacted me directly, or responded to my emails, since submitting his initial listing. He also somewhat misrepresents our policy with respect to the removal of contest listings. He states also that we're very accommodating to organizations with a charitable cause, which is true only in the sense that we try to be accomodating to everyone. As long a contest honors their commitments, I'm not particularly concerned with the causes they support, charitable or otherwise.
The $200,000 is the price being paid for the script. The $400,000 is the price that will be paid if the script actually gets produced. They say "against" because the initial $200,000 is applied against the $400,000 payment when the film goes into production. In other words, the writer would be paid $200,000 upfront, and the balance of the $400,000 at the start of principal photography. (The timing and amount of these payments is usually subject to negotiation - that initial $200,000 may actually be paid out over several steps pending the delivery of rewrites, etc.)
Terri: I was actually thinking this question had gotten an amazingly thorough response in just a two or three hour time frame. Your point about delayed payments is important, too. Also, fees paid to agents and managers, the Writers Guild, and lawyers. And the tax man, of course. Factor all that in and you may not be able to quit your day job on the basis of a single script sale. I certainly couldn't.
D. Jay - those pictures are between you and me. I told you that.
Actually, it's against the law to take my picture unless I'm holding one of my kids. That's what you'd think from looking at our photo albums, anyway. I can't post those pictures because you'd be blinded by the beauty of my children, and I don't have insurance for that.
Contests are all structured differently, so entering results on WinningScripts.com is sometimes more art than science. From my perspective, if you achieve the highest award given by a contest, you can characterize that as a first place finish on WinningScripts. If that's not what the contest calls it, though, you should use the "Comment" field to qualify the result. Same with finalists and semifinalist results. For a Chesterfield top 50 finish, for example, you might count that as "Finalist", and use the comment field to say "Top 50", or whatever. That's what the comment field is for.
IP addresses are not a reliable indicater of a user's identity. What I'll probably have to do is eliminate the option of changing your name through the user profile. That's the feature that's being abused.
I could ban James Barclay from posting to this message board, but I can't ban him from registering for a new account with yet another new identity. Since that's the behavior we're trying to discourage, I'm not inclined to go there.
FYI, we've dropped that listing. Although we don't have the resources to investigate every company that submit listings, we never knowingly list companies that charge reading fees.
We don't have a chat room set up here. That's something I've considered, but it's not on the immediate agenda.
Have any/all of you folks gotten this week's issue of the MovieBytes email newsletter? Volume 7, Number 33? Internet email seems to have melted down this week with the various viruses going around, and I want to make sure the issue actually got delivered to subscribers. I'm especially interested to know if you're an AOL subscriber - did you get your copy?
Thanks, David. Anyone else? All responses appreciated!
Thanks, everyone. We're sending it out again right now, so you should all get the new issue within a few hours.
Here's an informal survey question: are any of you folks familiar with RSS? If so, would you be interested in receiving MovieBytes content in this format?
(For those of you who haven't heard of this, RSS is a syndication format that allows you to track headlines and news stories from within a software program that grabs the data automatically from the newsfeeds to which you subscribe. It's sort of like email, but you don't have to supply an email address and there's no chance that spam can pollute the channel because YOU grab the data instead of having it sent to you.)
They're not paid advertisers. I just think it's a cool service with some impressive technology. We'll be integrating their listings into some of the packages we offer our sponsors - that's the business angle. Philosophically, I like being able to offer a free feedback mechanism to screenwriters who may not easy access to other writers. Since the Helium folks don't offer real or implied access to Matt, Ben, Kevin, Francis or any other Hollwyood superstars, I think their service will attract more generous and professional participants.
Thanks for all your kind wishes and comments. I'm too addle-brained to remember if I've said this before, but I remain grateful that MovieBytes has evolved into such a consistently civilized destination. Writers can be a cantankerous lot and the anonymity of the web can sometimes inspire disrespectful behavior. That rarely happens here, though, which makes it way easier for me to find the time and energy to maintain this site. There's a remote possibility that one or two of us may not sell a script in 2004, but here's hoping we can continue to support each other, and continue to enjoy the creative process.
Yep, it's protectionism. I believe the Candadian government offers various funding and tax incentives to productions that feature Canadians in the various key positions.
I went to film school in New York City and never had any trouble, but I got mugged within about three weeks of moving to L.A. Three guys grabbed me at the corner of Santa Monica and El Centro. They held a knife to my throat and a gun at my back. They grabbed my wallet and my backpack, which held my latest screenplay. They rifled through the pages and threw it to the ground. I'm not kidding. That was the first but by no means the most painful of my early rejections. I told them I was working on a rewrite but it's like they say - you only get one shot.
Although nothing ever happened to ME in New York, I should mention the woman who lived upstairs from my 49th street apartment who murdered and decapitated her lover. She dismembered the body in order to get him past the doorman of our building, then deposited the pieces in various trash receptacles around the neighborhood. Alas, leakage lead to her demise. She was arrested after the police followed a trail of blood through the lobby, into the elevator, and right up to the door of her apartment. Moral of the story? Always double-bag body parts.
Okay, the next person who signs on under an assumed identity is getting a time out. If the behavior continues you'll lose dessert and TV privileges. I've had it.
Seriously, I've implemented a couple of safeguards that will help me detect users signing on under multiple identities. I'm not sure if that practice is widespread or not, but in any case those accounts will be disabled. If that doesn't solve the problem I may allow you folks to vote people off the island. I've been reluctant to go that route because I don't want MovieBytes to turn into LORD OF THE FLIES, but I also don't want the site hijacked. If we were in fact the friendly watering hole described by Michele, I think we'd have lost our liquor license by now.
I don't have any evidence suggesting that Terri and Ellum are the same person. That said, I'm not going to get into the business of verifying individual identities - that's not how I want to spend my time. As I mentioned, we've enabled some techniques that will help us identify users signing on under more than one account. These technqiues are not foolproof, and they'll only work going forward from today, not backwards.
I'm not sure lessons learned from stand up comedy really apply to TV and film writing. In my experience a joke in a TV or film script is less likely to fall flat because it's not funny than because it fails to advance your story or develop your characters. Be wary of stand-alone jokes. Concentrate instead on your characters and a story that will help you reveal those characters, and the jokes will take care of themselves. (Or not. But at least they won't fall flat!)
On what criteria do you want to sort? Our contest list actually has quite a few filtering and sorting options. You can sort by report card overall ratings, for example, in different contest categories. Or by the quality of the feedback provided, as another example. You can say show me upcoming contests that cater to minorities sorted by the quality of the feedback provided. That sort of thing.
We don't currently have a seperate category for comedy contests, or genre awards within general contests, however. That would be cool, but seperate awards per genre are still fairly uncommon, so we haven't gone there yet.
It's a good idea, incidentally, to check out the blue menu box that appears at the top of the contest lists. You can slice and dice the data in our databases anyway you choose.
Hey, if you're a Chicagoan who doesn't care for football, I'll be speaking this evening (6pm) at the Chicago Screenwriters Network meeting at Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln Avenue. You don't have to be a member to attend. In fact, I think attending makes you a member. There's a small cover charge at the restaurant, I believe, but most members order dinner. I'm hoping some MovieByters will attend since I'm thinking attendance may not be so great on Super Bowl Sunday. See you there!
Steve: good idea. I'll probably book stadiums for the rest of the tour, though. There were like 30 or 40 people there tonight. I'm obviously a major star.
Thanks for the alert on that, Charles. We don't really have the resources to thoroughly investigate the listings that get submitted, but we do have a policy against posting opportunities that require a reading fee. If any of the folks you find there ask you for money, please let me know.
I haven't checked this out yet, but it's my understanding that the latest version of the Google toolbar includes a spell checker for forms.
Hey, folks. Just an invitation to check out our new design for WinningScripts.com. In addition to the free listings we've always offered, the new service also offers a PRO-level subscription that allows you to post script excerpts and extended search criteria, track "hits" on your listings, and lots more. You can read more about the service online at:
You can actually submit your entire screenplay, if you so choose. (PDF format only.) I'm assuming most writers will elect to upload an excerpt instead since access to the database is unrestricted.
Uploading a short excerpt is a good way to let producers and agents know that your script is professionally executed. That way if they're on the fence they'll go ahead and contact you. A lot of pros are reluctant too reach out to newcomers based solely on a promising logline; they've been burned too many times.
You can post ANY script to WinningScripts.com - even non-contest winners, or pre-contest winners. The search engine sorts scripts based on contest results, but our new extended search criteria (budget, appropriate actors, "in the vein of" titles) make it easy for producers to find material even if the script hasn't won a lot of contests.
Our objective is to publicize the scripts in the database as widely as possible, which means we don't require producers or agents to register with us prior to viewing the listings. The downside to this approach is we can't tell you precisely who's viewed your loglines or script excerpts. The upside, though, is that producers and agents who might not want to give up their contact info in advance are still able to peruse the material. We don't want to deny access to Neal Mortiz or whoever just because he doesn't want to give up his email address. Over the last few years all of us, and especially industry pros, have become a lot more sensitive about privacy issues.
The Phoenix Film festival is in March, I think, and you just missed the the International Horror and Sci-Fi fest, which is sponsored by the same organization. See:
Both of these festivals have screenwriting contests associated with them.
>>> Gee I wonder who hasn't won it for a long time now?
Steve, you can't be serious with this question, right? Those of us on the north side of Chicago are NOT going crazy. (Unless you count profound despair as crazy.)
I actually thought the Cubs had turned the corner in 2003. Then I saw the great hand of God swoop down from Heaven to knock the ball out of the mitt of Moises Alou in game six of the National League Championship series.
>>> the Cubs are the brunt of the joke now.
You should be safe with that line.
Hey, folks. A server crash this afternoon forced us to restore the site from a backup generated yesterday afternoon. So any posts submitted here in the last 24 hours or so have been lost. My apologies!
The FOX TV series PRISON BREAK was shot at the former Joliet Correctional Center in Illinois, which is now closed:
The Nicholl deadline this year was an oversight. (I'd fire the guy responsible, but I need the work.) Most contests keep us posted on their deadlines, etc., but the Nicholl obviously doesn't depend on MovieBytes to quite the same degree as some of the smaller contests we post.
If you hear of screenwriting contests we're not lisitng, please let me know. I'll invite them to submit their info. We try to be as all-inclusive as possible. There are no fees to submit.
I govern this site with a pretty loose hand. For better or worse, that's my preference. Otherwise I wind up playing whac-a-mole with lunatics with get banished and then pop up a day later under a new identity. That's no fun.
That said, I hear you. I'll do what I can to nudge our latest lunatic off-site. In the meantime, no matter how tempting or infuriating, please don't respond to his messages, even indirectly. Take away all the indignant response to his nonsense and you take away his reason to be here.
The listings are part of our Who's Buying What service, which includes an indexed searchable database of script sales, updated daily, plus interviews and MyScreenplays.com, an online management tool for tracking queries and industry contacts. In the context of these other features, I think the price is reasonable.
Very often a production company will purchase a book or a script, or hire a writer, and develop the project in advance of bringing it into a studio. They'll try to attach a director and stars, etc., to make the package more attractive. The film will ultimately be a studio picture, but it doesn't necessarily start out that way. Alternatively, they may finance the production of the movie independently, and go to a studio later for distribution. Movies come together in lots of different ways nowadays.
Thanks, everyone. I don't enter too many contests, but I've entered a few and I must say it feels better to win than it does to lose. It's nice that it was local, too - there was a luncheon yesterday where I was able to meet the other winners as well as the folks from the Illinois and Chicago Film Offices. A lot of fun!
Cindy's monthly column, HollywoodIQ, is still a part of our Who's Buying What service:
Most of those transactions are deals that closed prior to the start of the strike, but were only announced later, for one reason or another. I've been surprised by the activity, too, although those deals seem to be drying up now.
Heather: these are usually transactions that are in the news because one element or another has been attached to the project. In this case, Scorsese and Keitel came aboard as producers, but the deal for the writer/director was presumably concluded prior to the strike. This is not an uncommon situation. A script sale or option by itself is often not considered news-worthy enough to warrant an announcement. It's only when a star or producer or director is attached to the project that it starts to get publicity.
It may be dead now, but there's a live-action version of Thundercats in development at Warner Bros. (Written on spec by a first-time writer, interestingly.)
Check out our contests directory:
Scroll down to the bottom and you'll find a section called "genre contests", which lists all of the contests in our database that specialize in a given genre, or that have a special category for a given genre. The comedy link is here:
There are currently 4 contests listed, but note that by default we display UPCOMING contests only. Select "Show All Contests" from the filter form at the top of the page and you'll see that we list 16 different contests with a comedy category.
What have you maniacs done? The trick here, I think, is that if you're going to use the PRE tag you have to add a carriage return after every line. It seems pretty clear that we need some kind of script mode here - do you guys think it would be better to have the message board recognize your formatting, of would you prefer to just upload a PDF that somehow gets attached to the message?
Don't forget that our contest list is designed to provide exactly this information through our contest report cards. Here's the link for upcoming contests based on the ratings they've gotten for the feedback they provide:
Hey, folks. As you may have noticed, we've posted some new site updates, most of which are fairly minor and/or under the hood. One of the updates that may be interest to those of you using this message board, however, is a new option to upload a PDF file as a topic for discussion. If you'd like to get some feedback on a screenplay or a script excerpt, or if you just have a formatting question or whatever, you can now upload a PDF file as a new topic. Here's how it works:
1.) On the Bulletin Board home page, look at the bottom right of the list of topics. You'll see a link labeled, "Post PDF File for Feedback." Click that link and you'll see a form that's exactly like our familiar "Add New Topic" form with the addition of a new field that will allow you to browse your local hard drive for a PDF file. Find the file you'd like to upload and then click the "Add New Topic" button.
2.) Wait for the file to upload. Depending on the size of the file and your connection speed, this could take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
3.) That's it. Once the file has uploaded, it's exactly like every other topic on this message board, except that users will see a link at the top of the topic where they can download your file. Cool, huh? One other difference is that unlike regular topics, which can't be deleted, PDF topics can be deleted at any time by the creator of the topic. (My thinking here is that most of us don't want old versions of our screenplays hanging around on the Internet. Therefore, once you have the feedback you need, you can delete the topic at any time to immediately remove your PDF file and all associated messages from the bulletin board.)
Those of you who have tried to type script excperts into this message board will recognize this as a pretty big update. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
I should mention also that we've created some new RSS feeds that will allow you to follow developments on MovieBytes via an RSS Newsreader like the one built into Outlook 2007, or available via website like Google, Yahoo, or Newsgator.com. Subscribe to our message board feed, for example, and you'll be alerted automatically whenever a new message is posted to the board. We also have feeds for upcoming contest deadlines, and user comments about the contests in our database. You'll find the full list of our feeds online at:
Terry's right. I posted a number of changes last week, one of which was designed to limit the length of the loglines that are displayed within "ScriptLinks." Everyone has their own definition of what a logline should include, and some of them were running quite long. I experimented with a number of ways to maintain a reasonable length, and the best way was to cut off the logline at the end of the first sentence beyond a certain numbers of characters. Note that if you hover your mouse over the listing, your full submission will display regardless of length, and your full submission is also listed within WinningScripts.com. This seemed like a reasonable compromise.
I'm not sure how the site was represented, but you'll find most of our Literary Agent info in our Who's Buying What subscription service:
There is no page limit. You can post your entire screenplay if you're so inclined. The only restriction is on file size, which I believe is limited to 500K. Movie Magic generates feature-length PDFs at about 200K, so you could theoretically post a screenplay that was 300 pages long. (I don't recommend that!)
If you're scanning your script or generating it through another program you might wind up with a larger PDF, so maybe that was the problem you encountered?
While I'm pleased to accept your gratitude, I haven't actually done anything. Spell check is built into the Firefox and Safari Chrome browsers, though, so perhaps you've switched away from IE? I actually think the browser-based spell checking is a better since it's consistent across all the sites you visit.
The Beverly Hills Film Festival has actually never been included in our database. I've invited them repeatedly to submit their information, but they've never responded. I went ahead and created a listing for them just now so our readers can share their experiences with report cards and comments:
Hey, folks. If you're using Facebook or Twitter, be sure to follow MovieBytes for all the latest contest news:
Hey folks. I think our contest comments are one of the most useful featuers of this site, so I've created a new page to make it a little easier to see who's saying what about each contest:
If you've entered some of the contests listed here but haven't posted a comment, I'd encourage you to do so by clicking the "Post New Comment" link next to the contest name. You'll be doing us all a community service!
I'll give it some thought, but that would be a pretty big challenge. It's hard enough keeping track of the contest deadlines; notification dates are even more fluid, as you know.
Some contests are quite conscientious about keeping us notified, but the vast majority are not, even though it's clearly in their best interests to do so.
In June they emailed that they wouldn't be holding a screenwriting competition this year. In that changes in the future, we'll get them re-posted.
The contest is listed here:
No reports cards have been submitted yet, however. At some point they seem to have changed their deadline from 12/15 to 1/15.
Cool. My issue hasn't arrived yet. Guess I'll have to run to the newstand.
Yeah, it's an online submission tracking service to help you keep track of where you've sent your scripts: contests, production companies, agencies, whatever. There's also a "notepad" feature where you can post story notes that are accessible from home, the office, or on the road. This used to be a part of our subscription "Who's Buying What" service, which we've discontinued. I didn't want to get rid of this particular feature, though, since it's something I use extensively myself. So we've spruced it up a little and made it available to all registered users of MovieBytes, free of charge.
Thanks, folks! I'm really looking forward to the retreat.
Can you be a little more specific? I'm not sure what you're referring to.
I've repaired the synopsis issue, I think. Please email me the text of any other error messages you're getting. (firstname.lastname@example.org). That'll help me diagnose the error, which I'm not seeing myself. Thanks.
Amazon has started a new film/screenplay competition offering a combined $2.7 million in prizes, but if I'm reading the rules correctly all participants (not just winners) are granting Amazon a free 18-month option on their material. Yikes. What do you guys think of that?
FYI guys: contests don't pay to be listed on MovieBytes. Listings are free. The listings are generally submitted by the contests themselves, which is our preference, although we'll sometimes add a listing ourselves if it's brought to our attention by one or more our readers.
Yes, I was there last year (with Tim). I had some anxiety about the expense, but didn't regret it for a second. It was a wonderful time.
I can indeed vouch for Tim's existence. His MovieBytes users settings have been updated now to display his profile. For those of you who may not know this, you can turn your profile on or off online at:
This is also where you can change your email address and password, etc.
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