Writers Wanted! MovieBytes is looking for articles. Call for Submissions
I am just wondering if anyone entered this contest last time around? They sent out emails yesterday, indicating that the contest was a go again for the fall.
It seems like a great opportunity. The only thing that concerns me a little is the judging. The first round is by fellow participants and reviewers, who are volunteers. Not that peer evals can't be "on target" or helpful. My concern is while I am an honest person who would give honest treatment to another's script that I am asked to review, I know there are a great deal of folks out there who just want to win at any cost. How do they keep people from just going in and giving others scripts bad reviews on purpose or someone from getting all of their friends to sign up as reviewers? Don't you think this could open up a can of worms?
I guess I am used to contests with judges who are impartial. If I know they have some safeguards in place, I'll probably enter. I wonder how anyone who participated last time felt about the judging process?
Any thoughts? Again, I know it's a great opportunity.
I', nervous about it too. Especially since the Greenlight people will be making a lot of money off it. At $30 an entry, times 10,000 entrants, that's a $300,000,000.00 profit. And with no way to make sure people are being fair, I'm not certain there is a valid way to do it. It's tricky this time out.
Didn't PG receive 7,000 entries last time around? That was the number that appeared at the time.
In any case, the $30 fee probably will cut down on the number of six-page monologues entered (though wouldn't those be easier to read and judge than a 120-page script?).
As to the profit margin: certainly the screenplay entry fee will raise somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000.
Costs for the screenplay competition alone:
advertising and pr -- considerable, it wouldn't surprise me if they spend a healthy five figures in this area (say, $30-50,000), perhaps more. (Some of this will count for both the directing and screenwriting comps.)
website/online/database management -- considerable, several people are probably full time on this project for months, part time for even longer. (Again, split between the two halves.)
clerical -- considerable, someone (multiple someones?) has to execute all the detail work of keeping things running. (Again, split.)
administrative -- how much is the time expended by Chris Moore, Damon and Affleck, various Miramax execs overseeing and coordinating the entire operation worth? Probably much of this is just absorbed by the individuals and perhaps by Miramax (just part of the exec's job), so the monetary cost might not be great, but the real cost is considerable. (Again, split.)
2nd and final round judging -- multiple reads at this level cost, especially if Miramax readers/development execs are producing coverage or notes. If 200 scripts are dealt with at this level, the costs are considerable, well into five figures. (Screenplay only.)
Final round scene production -- I'm not sure how this works this year with the separate director and writer competitions, but this cost also has to be considerable (and some of it has to be charged against the screenplay competition).
Now add in any separate costs of the director competition.
But HBO pays for the TV show! Doesn't that mean that Miramax is already making a profit?
Okay, perhaps the license fee covers the cost of the film production (figuring that the cost of producing the TV show doesn't count in all this). Does it also cover costs of prints and advertising? I doubt it.
The bottom line: no one's making a lot of money charging $30 per entry into PG.
A six page monologue with nothing else would be too easy. Nooooo. This was part of a full-length script. The dialogue for one character went on and on, page after page, with no break. Then the next character went on and on.
Ah, yes, that is a different can of worms.
The longest monologue I think I've seen in a script covered 12 pages. The first 12, if I remember correctly.
I think the Swingblade monologue is just under five pages long (in the feature version), but it's pretty brilliant. And I can live with brilliant.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm terrible at giving reviews. My first reaction is to fix. Like streamlining descriptions, I cut 25 pages from Time & Again and it still makes perfect sense. Perk up dialog or drag it down into the depths of despair. Monotone kills me, it just isn't life. If it's too fast I drop in a breath of calm, so the viewer's head can catch up with what they just saw.
So a review from me would primarily contain examples rather than tighten this, shorten that, beef up your character arc, eliminate a sub-plot or find your structural backbone.
I know, this is somewhat off topic, but it really isn't. Fact is a lot of writers couldn't give a solid review if their life depended on it. We write from the heart. So it's hard for us to break someone else's. And that doesn't make for a good, solid review.
In short, this type of competition is not for me. The judging will be biassed as most have pointed out. To me Zoetrope comes under the same concept. Sorry, no Zoeee for me.
Good luck to the souls brave enough to enter PG. I hope you get gentle readers.
Regarding Greenlight fees as a source of profit, I think Greg is right. A couple hundred grand sounds like a fortune to poor screenwriters like ourselves, but it's really not much of an operating budget when you have to start paying a staff and so forth.
The money thing is a red herring. The real problem is in the judging process, which as Mary Kay points out, is totally whacked. Can anyone point to any other competition in the world in which contestants are judged by their fellow contestants? Can you imagine if Olympic figure skaters gave each other their scores? Can you imagine Miss Texas voting for some other Miss to be the next Miss America?
Perhaps the Greenlight folks would defend the system by saying that with thousands of entries, it is not possible for any one reader (even with a group of friends) to meaningfully influence the chances of his or her own script. Which is true, but that's not the point. The real question is, will it tend to bias their judgement?
I think there would be a natural tendency, if I were a Greenlight reader, to make a comparison between my own script and the script I have been assigned to read and evaluate. You can't help but compare.
Let's face it. Most of us love what we've written. Our scripts are like our children. What parent could bring themselves to choose someone else's kid to succeed at the expense of their own?
So how would I react if, say, I realized that the other script has snappier dialogue than the one I wrote? My knee-jerk response might be to look for some other area in which I can trump that other writer. So, I reassure myself that my plot is more interesting. I give the writer a "good" (not excellent) score for dialogue and give them a "poor" for plot. And I think I'm being totally fair.
You could argue that if everyone has the same bias against everyone else, all those biases will cancel each other out. In other words, no script will get a great score, but the best will still advance. But that assumes that everyone will apply their own biases equally. Yikes.
We all know that contests are subjective (frankly, I have a hard enough time with that). When you add self-interest to the mix, as Greenlight does, you're mixing up a noxious brew and I don't like the smell of it. Good luck to those with stronger stomachs. You can count me out.
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.