Writers Wanted! MovieBytes is looking for articles. Call for Submissions
Hello folks,I went to a small film school years ago and I entered the Chesterfield contest, Disney Fellowship, Cyclone and Bad Kitty and a few others a few years back and got no real benefit from any of them. Cyclone and Bad Kitty and a few others which were so infuriating I have blocked them out of my mind don't seem to be actually doing anything. I have had some family ties and horrible jobs in the past few years and have really been lead away from the writing life. Well, after a short lay-off I have gotten the creative juices flowing again and I have entered the ABC/Disney Fellowship contest and Slamdance. Are there any others coming up this summer which would be beneficial? Anybody know if BlueSky, potential $1000 prize and a reading by actors in Vegas is worth it? I don't have tons of cash to blow and I am somewhat restricted, I think, by ABC/Disney (if they like my script they get first look and I would be contractually obligated to write for them). Do any jobs happen after their program or do you just enjoy a year as a paid writer and then sit at home crying with a plastic bottle of vodka?
Wow, it sounds like you've had quite a bad case of burnout. Welcome back to the fray!
I think that you may be looking at these contests all wrong. Let's say that you do win the Disney fellowship. Who says that EVERYTHING you write belongs to them? Yes, they get first crack at your screenplay, but A) you can still send it out to agents, if nothing else than as a writing sample, and B) YOU CAN WRITE OTHER SCREENPLAYS IN YOUR SPARE TIME. What you write for them will be for them, but when you go home and fire up your computer, think about something completely different and write about that.
Reading your letter, it almost sounds like you're approaching these contests as an end, as opposed to a means to an end. No one who writes will ever be able to live off the winnings from a contest (unless they make a contest where they give you a 6 figure stipend every year for life - in which case, I'm going to have to beat you in that contest), and winning does not automatically have agents pounding down your door. You should look at these contests as a tool to get read by agents and managers, who can submit you for other steady work. If you were a finalist or semi-finalist in one of the contests, put that on your resume (if it's one of the small ones, just use the generic term 'Nationally renowned contest' or something else like it). The point is to get read by as many people as possible.
Okay, regardless of what happens with the Disney contest, send out your script anyway, making a note to point out that you're part of the contest. If you win, keep writing, and highlight your win on your resume. If you lose, punch it up by saying you were a semi-finalist (do you really think most agents will look up a semi-finalist?). Regardless, KEEP WRITING. You're not going to do anyone any good by stocking up on plastic bottles of vodka - you'd be too drunk to remember to throw them in the recycling bin when you're done if you drank it all.
Good luck with your contest, and once again... KEEP WRITING.
For me, marketing the scripts is harder than writing them. That's no walk in the park. It's so frustrating that the vicissitudes have driven me to drink . . . distilled water! Reminds me, this local town council has approved medicating our water with the toxic waste product, fluoride. It's a story idea. Pit the satanic CEO of the aluminum/fertilizer cartell against the angry man/woman who saw a child die from the combinations of toxins that combine with fluoride as the catalyst. Class action suit against the city council and the toxic kings. Perhaps a title? "Toxic Kings".
I think I may have been misunderstood. I don't believe I will become famous or a millionaire by writing a script. I am more worried about finding contests which I should enter and the most advantage I will gain from them (most big shots reading, best critics, best chances of representation) because I don't have tons of cash to throw around on every Tom-Dick-and-Harry contest that accepts screenplays as long as it comes with a check. I am looking for legit contests which are worth the while. BTW the ABC Disney Contest states that the script I mailed them must be given "first look" by them, others won't let you enter a script which has already been entered into other contests, still others won't let you enter a script which has placed in other competitions. So yes, I have good reason to worry. All I am asking for are some humble opinions as to which contests are worth entering at the cost of possibly losing another opportunity.
Sorry for the miscommunication. From what I understand, some of the best contests that get noticed by 'big-shots' have already passed (virtually none of them actually READ the scripts themselves, letting others do coverage for them - I'm assuming though. If you know of one differently, let me know!). The biggest one, of course, is the Nicholl Fellowship, which already passed. You might try looking for Project Greenlight to come back in September again, as it got a lot of publicity last year (and it's free to enter too!) The only catch is that you have to have a team ready to direct the movie and the budget has to be under $1,000,000. Still, it's worth looking into.
If I understand your posting correctly, though, it sounds like you're trying to, if not completely bypass, then greatly bypass sending your scripts to agents and producers. That's where the bulk of your expenses should be going towards. Agents and producers can put you in touch with the studios, who will buy your script. Contests are just a nice way to beef up your resume and MAYBE get noticed by a big-shot (emphasis on MAYBE).
I have one more suggestion before I get off my soapbox: Do homework on all the contests. The big legit ones will A) have recurring contests B) Have a LOT of people saying good things about it (in the Contest Report Cards) and C) Get notice in trade papers. Try to occasionally buy Variety or Hollywood Reporter to see which contests get noticed. Read other people's comments on contests on this message board. And, if nothing else, start working on a script that you can submit to the big dogs next year, when the contests roll around again. I know I will.
Good luck to you,
Register here to receive MovieBytes' FREE email newsletter featuring contest deadline reminders, news, articles, and much more. Choose a password to access the MovieBytes bulletin board and other great features.