Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview: Anthony DellaFlora

An interview with Anthony DellaFlora regarding the Duke City Shootout Writing Competition.

Q: Who sponsors this contest, and what is their background in the industry? When was the contest founded?

A: The world's first movie-making competition, the Duke City Shootout, has numerous public and private sponsors, including the State of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque, Intel, BitTorrent, Comcast, First Community Bank, Logitech, Apple, KNME-TV, Reel Logix, American Screenwriters Association, Central New Mexico Community College and many others. Some have an obvious connection to the industry: Apple provides editing systems, KNME-TV is involved in production, Reel Logix supplies production software, the American Screenwriters Association helps screenwriters, Central New Mexico provides film technician trainees to work on our movies. The contest was founded in 2000, originally known as Flicks on 66.

Q: What role do you play personally in the adminstration of the contest?

A: I am one of the founders of the Duke City Shootout, and among other things, help coordinate production of the selected short scripts during our competition each July.

Q: Have any of the winning scripts from the contest been sold or produced?

A: All of the winning scripts are produced. That is the nature of our contest. Each year we select seven short scripts, and produce them during the shootout week in July. The shootout provides cameras, equipment, crews, lodging, mentors and anything else necessary to make the movies. They are premiered at the end of the week before an audience of more than 1,200 people, then are distributed on BitTorrent. The more than 50 movies we have produced can be downloaded from BitTorrent.

Q: Who judges the early rounds of the competition? What are their qualifications? Who judges the final rounds?

A: We have a group of about 15 local writers who do the initial screening of the scripts we receive. Scripts that make it to the second round are considered by a different group of screenwriters. The final seven are chosen by industry professionals, including folks like Morgan Freeman. We have not locked down judges for this year, but the American Screenwriters Association will lend members to help with the selections.

Q: Do the early-round judges read the entire script, or do they stop after a certain number of pages?

A: Since scripts are limited to 12 pages, they read the entire script before judging.

Q: Are the judges looking for any specific type of script? Are scripts of a certain genre more likely to do well?

A: We have selected and produced all types of scripts: comedies, dramas, horror, sci-fi, experimental, mockumentaries, westerns and family fare.

Q: What do you do promote your winning writers, and to publicize their scripts?

A: They leave the Duke City Shootout with a calling card: their own 12-minute movie to show anyone who is interested. Movies are distributed on BitTorrent to a worldwide audience of about 65 million. We are working with Comcast and others to expand distribution channels for the coming competition. The writer/directors are encouraged to submit their films to film festivals. Our movies have played at numerous festivals around the world, including the San Diego Film Festival this year.

Q: What advice can you offer to writers entering your contest?

A: We're looking for good stories and original voices -- and scripts that can be produced in a week. We're also looking for writers up to the challenge of directing their own work. We think it's a valuable experience even if you don't intend to direct in the future.

Posted Friday, December 29, 2006