Does anyone that's ever won a screenwriting contest, have any advice for winning a screenwriting contest. I'm confident in my work, but still I'd love some advice from anyone that has any.
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Write a damn good script, but remember at the end of the day it's all subjective. You could bomb in one contest, and then turn around and win another.
Probably totally unhelpful as this (amazing) company for discovering new talent in the UK no longer exists...but I won/came runner up in a few of thier competitions and I found all the scripts I wrote from the heart made an impact. The company was called TAPS and they helped my career in so many ways. I wish something else like this would appear again...sob sob!
Thanks so much guys! This has been really helpful.
Look out for a new blog/article from me in the coming days...on exactly this topic...
Hey guys, here is my article from last year on The Differences Between Semifinalists and Winners. I am writing a new article (out soon) on what to do AFTER you win a contest. But I think this article will answer the question of the original Post. I've been a judge for the semis of the PAGE Awards the last 5 years, as well as a judge for NYC Midnight Short Competition (twice), Script Pimp (many years ago), and the Austin Film Festival Pitch Competition the last 3 years. So... I hope this helps - http://www.nobullscript.net/confessons-of-a-contest-judge-the-difference...
Renee Joy- Enter the Nicholl (and pray)
Over the years, I've won several screenwriting contests – and been a finalist in many more. I've entered scripts that won in one contest in another only to have them totally panned in others. There is no consistency. I've concluded that while winning is good for the ego – it's of little other value. All my winning scripts are concise (very) and strictly adhere to the “standard” format. Other than that, it's your money and a crap-shoot.
Screenplay contests have two purposes: 1: Get read; 2: Get prize cash to keep the heat on while you keep writing to get read. That's their purpose. And their only purpose. The big dog contests are well known enough, if you place or win, that will give you notoriety and you will get read and if you get read, your work is out there being considered by people who can make decisions and you can sell or get hired. You want to get read because that's how you get sold or hired. The end. I've got a list of the big dog competitions I put together for students and that is here: 10 Important Screenwriting Competitions & Deadlines - AFW - http://ow.ly/W6OvY As far as how to win goes, write better than anyone else entering the competition. A good script can lose just because it hits the wrong judge on the wrong day. A bad script can't win. Not going up against the kind of competition that is in play in comps like the Academy's Nicholl Fellowships which is the most prestigious amateur competition in the world right now. You win Nicholl? You can stop calling people asking for reads. They will be calling you. Write well. Write hard. And good luck.
Remember that any one time there are some 30K – 50K scripts floating around out there (maybe more.) These seem like daunting odds but in truth, they're not really. The sad truth is that well over 90% are unadulterated junk (I have to read many!) that fall out quickly. The run-of-the-mill contests are a real crap shoot but even winning there is a feel-good ego boost. Last year the Nicholl had about 4,700 entries – but only one winner. Winning one of the top tier contests certainly puts a tall feather in your cap but it's still up to you to actively market and promote yourself. You still need to toot your own horn.
Reneejoy: I have been both contestant and more recently, a judge for a script writing contest. One of the previous posters mentioned about 90 percent of the submitted screenplays being "junk". I would say 90 percent are poor to average, 5 percent are good and 5 percent are really good. Here's the type of things that screenplay contests and film festival judges are looking at when they read your screenplay: Formatting Characters Inciting Incident/plot points Protagonist Antagonist Turn Around Dialogue Punctuation Opening ten pages Story concept Structure Pacing Conflict Tone Marketability My suggestion is have a compelling story and look at the list of items above and start off with some film festivals and contests and don't get hung up too much on any one contest. Just have fun with them. It's a great way to get your work out into the ether and being a finalist or winner at any film festival or contest won't hurt your reputation. Check out Filmfreeway.com for a truckload of film festivals and script contests. Just use the search filter and I"d start by entering some inexpensive competitions. Good luck!
I'll keep all of your insight in mind, guys. The comments so far have been extremely helpful.
hey Doug just FYI, last year Nicholl had 7400+ entries, not 4700. PAGE had over 6000. Austin had over 8000. Final Draft Big Break, Scriptapalooza & Script Pipeline all get between 4500-5500 usually. So that's 35,000 scripts for just the top 6 contests. Yes, obviously many of those are reoears as the writer submits the script to more than 1. But you basically have to be in the top 300 scripts out of 35000 for a contest to help you. If you don't think you can hit that mark, you're probably wasting your money.
Thanx Danny - sometimes my fingers get a little tangled. I don't know if I in the top 300 yet but I do know/believe I'm in the top 1%
What makes you believe that? and I'm sincerely asking.
You're right of course – I should have used the word “think” because I'm unaware of any real hard and fast statistics. But I believe it based on the number of sub-par scripts I've read/had to read and the numerous contests I've won and finished in the top tier. Most contests today have well upwards of 3,000 entries, so finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd falls well within the top 1%. But remember too that I've been writing since I sold my first script to MTM back in the 70's. I've sold several scripts (I prefer Indies) and optioned more. I'm holding four winning scripts back right now until I feel comfortable with some local production companies. I've had some show-runners tell me I'm a good writer and ask if I would join their staff (I've worked on some very popular shows) – but I have to say no because I enjoy my retirement and involvement with the local young filmmakers. I remember that you guys panned my little short over there in Idaho, but that same short has placed in the top tier in four (I think) other festivals. So that's what makes me sincerely think/believe I'm in the top 1% of screenwriters. I could be wrong.
Doug, you have been on S32 for several years, you have considerable experience writing, success in screenplay contests and suggest your quality is in the top 1% - have you considered uploading any of your scripts, would love to read and see what 1% looks like as my own scripts have had little or no success, cheers.
Chanel, I’ll gladly upload a short script (That’s all I write now) if I can figure out how. I’ll post “The Game” (aka “Aces and Eights”). It won at Moondance, was a finalist in the Blue Cat and awarded a perfect 100 at the DC Shorts. It’s in pre-production for a Spring/Summer shoot. I don’t know how it relates to your writing in your Australian market. I tried working with an Australian writer but found it difficult due to the language – slang mostly – differences.
Thanks Doug, if you have any feature length scripts, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org - happy to read whatever you have - re the Australian market, I don't write anything remotely Australian bar one script - half of Hollywood are Australian actors, if they can speak non-Australian, I can write non-Australian, cheers.
I did a couple screenwriting contests and they just seem to be there to take your money. There are so many of them. I would skip the screenwriting contest and do some foot work and networking. That will do you more justice than the kazillion screenwriting contests out there. Save your money and network.
Chanel, I have only one FL script right now and it’s under option until Sep/16 – so technically it’s not mine to share right now. I’ll send some of my shorts (that sounds a little weird!) if you’d like. Christopher, absolutely right on! Other than the very top tier, they’re just vacuuming dollars out of your wallet; although winning even those is an ego boost. The top tier festivals don’t go out of their way to market writers but they have nurtured a following by a few Producers on the prowl. If/when one of them connects with a script (that can be had for cheap); the festival touts that success to draw in more wishful writers. The very best is to network eyeball to eyeball with industry participants. E-mail doesn’t cut it!
Screenwriting contests are there to take the 4,990 people's money who THINK their scripts are ready and give that money to the 1-10 people whose scripts actually ARE ready. Blame the writer, not the contest.
Danny- Agree with most of what you said. However, win or place in Nicoll. or ABC (where the prize IS a staff writing job) than game over.