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Okay, kids, looks like we're heading into contest season! What's everyone entering this year? I have a Family Film and a Drama that I'm tweaking at the moment. Planning to enter the top three: Nicholl, PAGE, and Austen. Maybe one or two more if I'm feeling flush and sassy (or if I'm drunk).
Who's my competition? Where you placing your bets?
I'm planning to enter two comedies in Nicholl and Page. Going for the big bucks. Also maybe Slamdance - my stuff's a little edgy and Slamdance likes edgy.
(I know, I know, Nicholl doesn't go for comedies, but hell, a guy's gotta dream.)
Well, good, if you're in Comedy, at least we won't be competing in PAGE. ;-)
You might want to consider Austen, too, if you have a little more dough to spend. They have a Comedy category and it's a very reputable contest - and a GREAT festival!
Let's all try to just support the contests that really can help us in some way. And only those.
Like I said - I've been guilty in the past too, but am watching who I sponsor going forward.
I have a much longer list than most of you. Maybe it's because I only have one finished screenplay at the moment! I'm hoping to get the second one ready well before the end of "contest season." Anyway, here's my ever-evolving list: ScriptSavvy, Scriptapalooza, PAGE, BlueCat, AAA, Shriekfest, Nicholl, ScriptPimp, Silver Screenwriting, Austin, Screenplay Festival, Screamfest, Writers on the Storm
If any of those have you screaming in your head "NO, NOOOO, don't do it!!" please let me know!
Just make sure that whatever contest you enter, pay the extra for the feedback. This way you know your script has been read and reviewed.
Otherwise, you're just throwing your money away. Except for the Nicholl's.
Just my personal opinion.
One other thing...
Enter as early as possible. DO NOT ENTER A CONTEST JUST BEFORE THE DEADLINE. Many times they get a rush at the last minute so they get overloaded. Which mean your chances of them actually reading your script goes down dramatically .
I know 5 readers from 5 different contests and 4 out of the 5 say that they don't read the ones at the tail end of the deadline. There's just too many. And if they do... they may read up to 5 pages, or just the first page if they find a typo. Then it's in the trash. That's why, pay for the feedback.
If you send it via email... make sure it's the correct format . If they can't open, it gets deleted.
George, which contests don't read the last-minute entries? That would be really helpful info. Thanks. Personally, I've been holding off until near the end, in case I make changes to the script before the deadline.
Yeah, I'd be really curious to hear who you know doesn't read their entries, as well! I've heard about big problems with Scriptapalooza. Apparently they just dump piles of first round scripts on the desks of busy execs and expect them to read them for free. Face it, most first round scripts are pretty bad, so the scripts usually then either don't get read by the execs, who don't have time, or they get passed on to assistant who often doesn't bother to read them either.
Susan, I've read good reviews about most of your picks, with the exception of Scriptapalooza, and also possibly Bluecat and AAA. Reviews on Bluecat are very mixed. Some people like their notes a lot, but many writers say the quality of the Bluecat notes/readers is very poor. And the Creative Screenwriting/AAA contests have been very badly mismanaged the past couple of years. Lots of missed deadlines and stuff like that. Otherwise your list looks good! (And, of course, you may still want to take a shot with Bluecat and AAA just to see what your own experience is like.)
I agree that when submit on the last day, you're in the huge stack and can get more of the rush treatment. But most contests go over deadline nowadays so they're not on a crazy deadline. And I've submitted both films and scripts on the final day with excellent results at times. I definitely think it's better to get it in a little early, but I'm also wary of being the first one in because you may be forgotten by the time all the initial ones are judged, and readers may not give as high a score - like wanting to be last at the Olympics.
I'm also curious where the readers don't bother. That's not good.
I'll have to look further into Scriptapalooza. I hadn't heard too much negative information, so maybe I need to go back and look at the comments on the message board and in the contest section. I'll go ahead and do Bluecat and see if I think their feedback is worthwhile. I entered AAA last year with a much earlier not-ready-for-primetime version of my script. I did have problems getting answers from them and I signed up for the feedback just to make sure the script got read. The feedback was pretty short but mildly helpful. AAA doesn't seem to be offering a feedback option this year (last time I checked), so I'm not sure I'll stick with them. The horror specific contests don't offer feedback either, so I'm just taking a risk to see how it goes with a genre specific contest.
I appreciate all the helpful suggestions in this thread!
I don't write horror so don't have any personal experience with those horror comps, but I've read some good things about them here and elsewhere. Sounds like a good gamble. ;-) Best of luck!
I plan on entering my true-story script into Red Inkworks and Nicholls. I already entered it into the January contest for Script Savvy.
Good point Irin makes about waiting to the last minute to enter. Several contests extended the deadline last year putting those that entered timely in a disadvantage (that is, if they wanted to continue making revisions).
I was considering Script Savvy, too. May try that one.
Karen, my one concern with Austin was that, although it's a great film festival, I heard that the readers for the screenwriting contest are just local volunteers and students who read scripts to get free admission to the festival. Not exactly the calibre of reader I want to evaluate my work. Especially when I'm paying for the privilege.
That's my biggest pet peeve - extensions after the "final" deadline has passed. I understand that contests do it to try to take in more money, but it's unfair to those who submit at the last minute, but would've liked more time. The best contests don't do it. And the ones that are concerned that they may not take in as much in fees as they think, should set their prize money winnings accordingly. Especially when this happens year after year, they should know what to expect by now.
On Austin - first of all, incredible festival and very much worth entering. But as for the readers - I'm not sure if that's true of not for the beginning rounds, but there are definitely judges for later rounds in the industry. But regardless, those are the "calibre of reader" that will judging your film when it goes into theaters. And also, many prodcos, etc. employ readers with minimal experience who narrow it down to the higher ups (who then narrow it further). I started as a script reader with minimal experience. So when your scripts go out to places, often the readers are students (many of the readers who worked with me were getting credit from Columbia or NYU). So this wouldn't be such a stretch. And it's only one contest and one opinion. You should definitely enter Austin.
George, I don't think thats true because I received as many placings in contests that I entered late as early, if not more. I mean, why in the world would they forward my script if they didn't even read it? Don't answer that! Now I'm bummed again. Thanks a lot, George.
I know for a fact that late entries in some comps aren't given equal consideration. I've read for contests and that's simply the way it is sometimes.
Janet, you sound as if you've advanced in numerous comps. Have you really?
In the past year I have placed in 12. I don't know if thats a lot or not, that wasnt my point. More than half of those placings were ones that I entered late so my point was that I didn't think it was true that they do not (in general) ignore late entries.
Correction: From my own fairly recent experience (the past year) I don't believe that contests don't (in general) read late entry scripts.
Congratulations, Janet. Exactly which twelve contests were those?
QUOTE: "But regardless, those are the "calibre of reader" that will judging your film when it goes into theaters."
Irin, by this statement, you're basically saying that anyone who goes to see movies is qualified to judge a screenwriting contest. And by this criteria, teenage boys (the biggest movie-going audience) most of all. Say it ain't so, bro!
Man, it is MUCH more difficult to evaluate a screenplay than to see a film, and not everyone can do it -- no matter how much they like watching movies. It takes serious experience and training to understand how a script translates into a film, what works and what doesn't. Of course everyone has to start somewhere, and fresh out of college, sure, you'd need some production company to give you a start as a reader. If as a novice you fail at what you do, at least the poor writers haven't paid you for passing them over. It's on the company's dime.
The reputable contests like Nicholl and PAGE require all their judges to have SEVERAL YEARS of experience evaluating scripts for agencies and production companies. There's a reason for that. And personally, that's who I'd prefer to have evaluate my script and where I'd prefer to pay my money, thanks very much.
My script is listed on this site just like it has always been for the past year. The contests I have advanced in are all listed on the details page just like they have always been. If any one is interested in seeing and or checking out the list feel free. Im pretty sure most of the contests still have their finalists lists up on their own sites if you feel the need to confirm it.
Martin, I have been on this board all year talking to other byters about our mutual advancements so I don't know why this surprises you. Several of us are in the running right now for Screenplay search, Screenplay festival and Filmmakers. Check the threads. And please... stop trying to pick a fight with me.
Jack - you're right. I kind of oversimplified my point. I was just trying to say that when your film gets made, everyone and anyone will also give their opinions on it, not just those "qualified." And hopefully people who are more knowledgeable about scripts are judging the contests. But definitely don't expect all the contests and prodcos to have incredibly qualified readers in the first rounds. And for sure, we're all a victim to their biases.
And on Janet - she's talked about her placements as they've happened and I've seen some of them on lists.
I've seen some of Janet's placements too, Irin, but not twelve.
I'm not targeting you, Janet. Even though you do tend to paint a bullseye on your forehead. I'm simply debating your point and feel you're not qualified to make the statement that it doesn't matter when you submit your script into a contest. As I said, I've judged contests so I know firsthand. It DOES matter.
As I understand it from friends who have read SPs for prodcos, they have an "audition" process, during which the potential reader writes a sample in that company's preferred style.
As for contests, I have never been disappointed with or appalled by feedback from:
Barb Doyon at Extreme Screenwriting Donna White at Script Savvy Cheryl Herring at A Feeding Frenzy
. . . in no particular order. These perceptive and helpful professionals all have great reputations for a reason.
Good luck to us all!
Martin, you'll find that these threads can be very helpful. You can learn a lot of useful information. But to come here just to make snarky comments about other writers on the site doesn't really help anybody. You say you don't target Janet, and I assume you've never even met her, but you've suggested that she's a liar. You really want to contribute here? Tell us which competitions don't read late entries. That's information we could all use.
Thanks, Irin. All true. For sure we are always victim to each individual reader's taste and biases. It's a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but that's just the nature of the business.
Good luck to everybody this contest season! I'll be watching out for your names on those lists of finalists and winners. Here's hoping!
That's true about auditioning to be a reader. I was first given a script and had to write sample coverage before they accepted me. They gave me one they knew was bad to make sure I'd pass on stuff that wasn't for them (there's no point in a reader that likes every script - trust me, they aren't all good) - though I didn't know that at the time. I trashed it and got the job.
StoryPros Awards (Quarterfinalist, 2009 )
WriteMovies (Semifinalist, 2009)
Screenplay Festival (Semifinalist, 2009-still judging)
Screenplay Search (Semifinalist, 2009-still judging)
SkyFest ( Finalist, 4th place-2009)
FilmMakers (Quarterfinalist, 2009-still judging)
Fade In (Quarterfinalist-2009)
Free Screenplay (Finalist, 2009)
Cinema City Fest (Finalist, 2009 fall and spring)
Blazing Quill (Semifinalist, 2009)
PAGE International (Honorable Mention, 2009 (1st round qualifier)
Unless you're also accusing me of not being able to count now too Martin, I would say this is 12 and you should be able to varify all but a couple on their sites if you dont believe me which you obviously dont. On the Page issue it was my understanding from someone on the board that it was alright to say honorable mention if you did make the 1st cut. If thats not correct I will certainly change it.
I didnt include my 2008 ones because I felt more so than the number was that they were recent to show the present trend. And I did not say that it doesnt matter. What I said (one more time) was that it was my fairly recent experience that they read your script even if its late. Unless of course, Martin, you are trying to say some of these contest forwarded my script even though they didnt read it. Some of these contests are pretty reputable and.....those happen to be the ones that I entered at the last minute.
Story pros awards, Page, Cinema city(both times) International Film fest, Screenplay search and Sceenplay festival.
So surely your not trying to say that they could have advanced my script without reading it. And as far as the numbers go, why dont you ask Irin and Steven how many contests they entered this year and how many late and still got in the cut. Im sure their numbers are much higher than mine and possibly you would be much more willing to trust them than me.
Possibly its true that readers are over worked and cant give the same consideration to late scripts but I dont think its true that they dont read them. Otherwise why on earth would they advance them? That would not only be unfair to all of the ones that they did read but unethical.
I agree that it is inconciderate on our part to wait for the last minute to enter a contest but its very hard to not want the very last moment to rewrite.
And Martin, yes you do single me out. You constantly come out of no where and attack me almost every time I post on this board. You say I wear a bullit on my forehead. Well Im pretty sure that I don't and you would find some way to try and discredit me no matter what. So why dont you just kiss my ass and fuck off.
I don't quite understand.
If I was Janet, I'd tell Martin to stick it. And I don't know Janet. And I don't know Martin.
What next? Proof regarding her name, sex, or nationality?
Although I've been in something of a contest slump lately ( or I just don't enter very many anymore maybe), a few years ago I had a script that placed in close to 20 contests. No big deal really. But if Martin wants a list or notarized proof, don't hold your breath, mate.
I hope there isn't some conflict of interest rules by me posting in this thread. I am a member too. ;-) And I am not selling any contest today. But having run a screenplay contest for the last 9 years (yikes!), I will tell you this: getting through last minute entries is not a big deal. First-round reads in contests --where there isn't coverage involved--goes very fast with an experienced full time reader. I have seen really good readers read in excess of 50 scripts a week. So even if 2000 last-minute scripts came into a big contest, with 10-15 readers, that's merely a few weeks of reading.
I guess if a contest got a last minute rush of 2000 scripts and 200 of those advanced to the next stage, and then out of the 250-300 in that stage, a winner was picked a week later, I would want to know more about their judging process.
RE: deadlines. I know it's sort of frustrating. I actually just announce in my rules that there will be a couple deadline extensions but the final schedule --even for those extensions-- are all listed at WAB. I think if you email contest coordinators and ask them if their deadline will be extended, most would tell you beforehand. I know I have done that in the past. Unfortunately, because we writers like the pressure, deadlines are when MOST of scripts are entered. So the marketing push that the contests get out of reasonable deadline extensions and staggered deadlines are what make them work. This is par for the course for film fests. Contest prizes would be much smaller if not for these staggered deadlines. If I knew I couldn't market an extension (that anyone who goes to the WAB site can see) I would offer a $2500 Grand Prize instead of $10,000. Without those marketing deadlines, a company like mine could be really strained when it came time to pay the $10k. ;-)
I suspect both Janet and Martin are correct (yeah, I'm always the diplomat). Clearly some contests are much more organized and "ready" for the late onslaught than other contests. Like Janet, I also had a number make semis and finals last year....some I entered early....some at 10 minutes to deadline. Similar success rate regardless, but it may have been that I was entering the more organized contests late. I think I entered two in Screenplay Search on the very last day. Both made semis. That said, it really felt somewhat "risky" submitting late and I'm really trying to avoid that this year.
As Jim states, reading has to do with how organized any competition is. Annually, the Nicholl competition receives thousands of scripts at the deadline, and those are evaluated as carefully as scripts entered a month or two earlier. It's simply a matter of planning.
Although this doesn't take into account the quality of scripts entered early, middle or late, in 2009 of the 321 scripts that advanced to the Nicholl quarterfinals:
7 were among the first 100 scripts entered; 28 were among the first 500 scripts entered; 6 were among the last 100 scripts entered; and 24 were among the last 500 scripts entered.
If you look at the whole 6380 scripts and 321 quarterfinalists, the average was 5 quarterfinalists per 100 entries. So early and late were pretty close to the average.
Thanks very much for this info, Greg. This is very reassuring. And again, it speaks to Irin's point that it's important to enter contests that are well established, well organized, and have a track record showing that they are legitimate and they can really do something for their winners.
As we see in the reviews here on MovieBytes, there are many very questionable contests (and people) out there who will happily take your money and NOT read your script and NOT come through with their promised prizes, etc. Though he has thus far declined to name names, I suspect those are the contests that Martin has read for.
Hear, hear, Jack!
And thanks very much for the data, Greg! Planning to get my script in before the deadline this year. We'll see if I make it. ;)
I wasn't referring to the Nicholl or Champion contests. Those are much more organized and reputable competitions and I have no firsthand experience as one of their judges. I can only speak from my knowledge as a reader for three other comps that I can't name. I know for a fact that all the entries we received after the deadline extensions in two of these comps were not given equal consideration. My original intention was to debunk what I consider bad advice and encourage people to enter contests as early as possible.
I don't know why everyone's jumping on Martin. Reader fatigue is a reality in the contest world and in the general script submission world. You're ALWAYS at the mercy of the reader. If they're too busy to read your script (and especially if they're not expected to write much coverage or feedback), there's very little to stop them from skimming the first and last ten pages and "dialing down the center" on the scorecards. If anyone asks, they can easily say something about "The pacing was a little slow" or "It felt kinda talky" or "the characters were too cardboard."
So reader fatigue is real. I don't doubt that reader fatigue sets in at the end of competitions when a reader has a stack of 50 scripts and has been reading 10 a day for the past month.
I don't have any firsthand knowledge since I've never worked a competition, but I do know people who have.
With that said, all-in-all, there's a certain amount of crap-shoot to the whole thing. And generally, the good scripts rise to the top anyway.
Sure, I guess reader fatigue could play a part. I structure the first round to try to avoid these problems. I allow about about 20ish out of 100 (4x more than Nicholl) to advance. This gives readers a pretty wide berth to advance scripts. And then the next round readers have a lighter load and get paid more to read.
Two weeks ago, I did a silly blog on the Champion Blog about why people should enter my contest early.
The main reason that applies to EVERYONE AND ALL CONTESTS...although it's a drag to have to wait FOREVER, if you can save $5, $10 or $15 from your entry fee by entering early that makes a HUGE difference in your value. In fact, that $15 probably turns some "maybe" contests into a "no" contest from a strictly EV cost/benefit analysis.
Any way to double down an entry fee?
Buying insurance may be a better play.
Enter early or late? Early saves a few bucks. But most people send out early drafts that could use more ploishing.
Consider even if you enter early, the reader may be fatigued from reading 20 scripts that weekend for another day job.
Write a script and rewrite it until it doesn't suck. Don't waste your money entering crap early drafts.
90 percent of of the bashing of contests is from people who entered a crap script then coming here to yell "scam" -- the Dan Gomez Syndrome.
Keep rewriting and polishing. Get some pro feedback. See if it is ready for the cruel world.
Perhaps there's a slight disconnect in the amount of reading that different contests undertake and the number of scripts that advance to the next rounds, whatever they might be called.
In the 2009 Nicholl competition all scripts were read once.
In 2009, about 2800 scripts were read a second time (in some competitions that might be described as advancing; it is not in the Nicholl competition).
In 2009, about 800 scripts were read a third time (in other competitions this might be described as advancing to another round; it is not in the Nicholl competition). The top 15% of entrants were notified that their scripts reached that level.
In 2009, the 321 Nicholl quarterfinalists were selected based on the best two scores of the first three reads.
In the 2009 Nicholl Quarterfinal Round, all scripts were read three additional times.
In 2009, 114 scripts advanced to the Nicholl Semifinal Round; all semifinal scripts were read by four additional judges drawn from the ranks of Academy members.
Selection of Nicholl finalists were based on those ten reads.
All scripts advancing to the Nicholl finals were read by members of the Nicholl Committee. By the end of the competition Nicholl-winning scripts will have been read by 20-25 different judges.
BTW, the Nicholl Fellowships competition now has a presence on Facebook where status updates are regularly posted.
I guess the only question I have is when the advancement takes place. For instance, in Nicholl let's just suppose you have 6.500 or more (which they may get this year). If scripts are judged on a 1 to 10 basis (1 being the worse, 10 the best) If a script let's say scores a high score (8.8 as an example) does it get read again based upon the scores from previous years or does certain amount of scripts have to read. Hopefully that makes sense, I have always wondered.
I'm not quite sure what you're asking, but I'll try to respond:
All scripts are read once. Those that receive a score of 60 or higher (out of 100) are read a second time.
To be read a third time, one of the initial scores has to be near 80 or higher (the exact number varies from year to year depending on all the scores),
It usually takes two scores of 80 or higher to advance to the quarterfinal round.
That's what I was asking as confusing as it was.
Does anyone out there have any experience with the Write Movies competition? I'm thinking about submitting, but after reading the rules, (which I seldom do), I'm a little hesitant. Any input would be great!
What's the worrisome part? I entered, did I miss something?
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