Screenwriting : Screenwriting competitions by Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Screenwriting competitions

How have screenwriting competitions helped you with your craft?

Ewen Munro

Honestly, I don't think they do. I think because it's screenwriting, and not the final piece of the puzzle, it's even more subjective, believe it or not. And, no one's opinion of a script is a definite answer as to if it's going to make a good film.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Tony, What would you do differently when entering future screenwriting competitions given your past experience of them?

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Manda, Have you entered any screenwriting competitions and if so, what was the experience like?

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your feedback Ewen and Steven

Mark Gunnion

Gave me deadlines.

Kevin Isaacson

This year was the first year that I entered any contests. I was a quarterfinalist in the Page Awards. It gave me a vote of confidence and added a little fuel to my fire. It inspired me so I got what I wanted out of my first crack at it. Now to improve upon it and unleash my stories in 2016.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Some of the best feed-back I've had on my scripts has been from contests. The feed-back from bluecat contest was awesome - two readers (I just re-read it today before I dusted off "Occupy This'!). I just got back notes from WILDsound (an online monthly ongoing contest where they table-read the winners monthly). Their note was so detailed, positive and really constructive. I've heard the feed-back notes from Nicholls (?) contest is good, multiple readers. My Pageawards feed-back was okay, as was blacklist (but I kind of felt like those readers were burnt-out and just wanted to see a cookie-cutter lay-out to the plot and hero arc). So, just do your research (start here http://goodinaroom.com/blog/screenwriting-contests/ ) and make sure any contest you do enter guarantees you feed-back notes. If you actually win money or place in a contest, that's a bonus! However, I've learned via stage32 pitch prep seminars that execs don't want to hear about your contest wins. That said, there was an awesome free summer stage32 seminar where, oh I think it was Augustine Calderon, said you're guaranteed a look if you 'work you way up the ladder' of contests, the Nicholls and the Blacklist being at the top. Moral of the story is, don't waste money on a contest unless you're in it for the feed-back. If you're in it for the 'win' and that win doesn't happen, you'll just feel disappointed & glum.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for Manda for the additional feedback.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Tony, I do know about the beebs writer's room submission opportunities. I got their recent mail r.e. drama and radio, nearly entered the drama category, but pulled back because I felt as if I was rushing the writing in order to fit the submission deadline. The latter made me uncomfortable. I'd rather the draft was as good as it could be the first time round.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Kevin, Do you think going forward that you'll write or work in a different when it comes to your screenwriting craft because of your experience of entering these competitions?

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks Sarah for the link and your comment.

Kevin Isaacson

Rickardo, I don't think the contest itself will change the way that I write or work. I did not pay to get the feedback but that will probably change this next contest season because at least you are getting something back for your money instead of just a result of moving on or not.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your additional comments Kevin and Tony ;-)

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hey Alex, Which screenwriting competitions have you entered which you would recommend?

A. S. Templeton

Festivals I've entered listed below. Having missed deadlines for most of the Big Dogs or having failed to meet their entry criteria (screenplay in question is an adaptation, summarily prohibited by some snooty competitions despite a large percentage of Hollywood hits being adaptations), I just apply to whichever seems a reputable competition at a given moment. So no, I can't really recommend one competition over another, except maybe that favoring ones that provide notes can help refine one's craft. To one or two of these festivals I've actually submitted more than one revision of a script. That, when taken with the absurd length of the list below, suggests that I have more $ than good sense. Still, I hope thereby to gather a statistical sampling of readers' and judges' estimations of my screenplay: in effect I end up judging a given competition just as it judges my work. I would never let a single competition's result either pump up or deflate my screenwriting aspirations, just as on the literary side, never take a single agent's rejection as an absolute judgment that my story's no good. Colorado international FF July 2015 (placed Finalist) The IFFF Slamdance Hollywood Screenplay West Field LA Film & Script Adapted & True Story Shore Scripts World Series StoryPros International London Film Awards Fresh Voices Cinequest AFF Screenplay Comp Canada International Nashville FF BlueCat Screenplay 2016 Cannes Screenplay And one or two others...

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for following up with the list Alex ;-)

David Taylor

Not at all. Watch and analyze 500 movies. That helps a lot.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi David, Are there any screenwriting competitions you would recommend?

David Taylor

No.

Danny Manus

There are only about a dozen or so contests that actually mean anything to Hollywood pros that they pay attention to. The rest are just ego, free dinners and false hope. And if you don't make the semifinals of those major contests (or maybe quarters on Nicholl), they don't mean anything. You can leverage contest wins to great success if you know how, but most writers promote their quarterfinalist placement in bullshit contests that don't matter and they're actually hurting their chances.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Danny, Thanks for commenting. Which other screenwriting competitions (besides the Nicholl Fellowship and BlueCat) would you say mean anything to Hollywood pros?

Danny Manus

I'm not that sure hwood cares much about Bluecat. its a good contest that gets you good feedback but I don't know of any major success stories from its winners. Austin, PAGE, Scriptapalooza, Script Pipeline, Sundance, Slamdance, Final Draft Big Break, TrackingB, Tracking Board Launch Pad, and then Fresh Voices, Screencraft, Stage 32 are up and coming ones getting good attention as well.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hey Danny, Thanks for following up, especially adding in the competition recommendations.

Mark Gunnion

When my first screenplay, KAMELEON, made it to the QuarterFinals in Scriptapalooza this summer, it gave me a huge dose of encouragement. It was the first solid evidence that I had that I wasn't kidding myself, that I actually understood the medium. It kept me in the game.

Dave McCrea

I put an ad out on Craigslist for a screenwriter to do a web series for me, got 100+ responses, but one of them had won 1st place at Scriptapalooza so I went with him. Now I'm co-producing a feature with major actors in it and he's a guy I'm going to turn to whenever i need a writer. So yeah spend the $50 for the major competitions... what else are you going to spend it on? Writing is practically free.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks Regina.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Mark, And which screenwriting competitions are you thinking of entering going forward?

David E. Gates

I can't remember where I got this from, but it was via someone on this site I'm sure: A great source for screenwriting festivals is Film Freeway. They list all contests in the US and worldwide, entry fees, very detailed information about each contest and festival, etc. Reel Writers is a great contest because every single script receives professional coverage, and if you did not get a high coverage score, or want to try for a higher one, the writer can fix issues and resubmit unlimited times before final submission date. And each time you resubmit a different person does detailed coverage for the writer. To work on your writing, pitching, etc. I recommend Screenwriting U. Free 2 hour recorded conference calls which provide very detailed information on rewriting, pitching, submitting, structure, how to land an agent or manager, etc. Very informative and free... though at the end you will get a pitch to join their Pro Series Class.

David E. Gates

And one of the better competitions: https://www.oscars.org/nicholl/about

David E. Gates

There was a post recently which was of a screenwriter being interviewed about his experience following him winning a competition (I think it was the Nicholl). Really interesting read. Do a search and you'll probably find it.

A. S. Templeton

@DaveMcCrea, you ended your last post on this thread with "Writing is practically free." Sorry, but I don't quite get what this means in context. Please elaborate.

Dave McCrea

Alex, it means that aspiring cinematographers need to buy cameras, actors need to buy head shots and go to expensive showcases, screenwriters expense ends once they buy Final draft except for entering contests

A. S. Templeton

Yeh, I've read the fine print. My prob is with the non-negotiable aspect of Amazon Studio's "agreement" (as in you must agree with us), and with the countless loopholes that can end with a screenwriter's story being produced in some form but the writer not getting even screen credit. I'd rather wait for a few high-profile lawsuits to be quietly settled and the Amazon boilerplate to be revised to afford WGA-level protections before submitting my screenplay to their tender mercies.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks David for following up with the recommendations.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for adding in your recommendations Steven as I wasn't aware of a few of those contests.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Alex, The non-negotiable aspect of Amazon Studio's "agreement" aside would still submit your work to Amazon or not all?

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Jim, How extensive were the script notes which came back as a result of entering Nicoll?

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Jim, Thanks for the additional feedback ;-)

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I don't give a rat's ass what any pundit tells you. Winning and placing at screenplay festivals and script contests can help you build your brand and provide you with a barometer with how you stack up against other aspiring writers. For example, I've been an Austin Film Festival Second Round Finalist for three consecutive years in three different genres. Therefore, I know that out of more than 7000 entries each year, I am in the top 15%. Second, I've never had anyone in the industry turn their nose up at my contest success or say anything other than "you have an impressive resume." And this includes getting in with some heavy hitters. It's also a good way to get inexpensive and sometimes free 3rd party opinions of your work and affirmation for what you're doing. And for me, Screencraft has been particularly supportive of my work, which included interviewing me for their online newsletter. Finally, I've attended several film festivals where I've been a finalist, including this past weekend at the Austin Revolution Film Festival, where always have a blast and get to meet some incredibly talented film makers. Believe me, the experience has been well worth the admission.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Steven: Thanks and you have a great attitude about this community and the writing process. Keep at it and good things will come.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Phillip, Thanks for your feedback. Which screenwriting competitions (besides the Austin Film Festival and Screencraft) will be entering going forward and why?

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Rickardo: I like to do my hometown festivals like AFF, Austin Revolution Film Festival and Hill Country Film Festival because I can attend them. They've all been very kind to my work. I also like Screencraft because they are very competitive and they run a high class contest for many genres. I do a lot of contests that are free and or low budget. If it cost ten bucks, I figure, "what the hell?" I have three scripts competing in the finals this Sunday at Sunscreen Film Festival in LA, a few Horror competitions, which I've never done before. One is Dazed 4 Horror in Texas and Haunted Horror Festival in Canada. Often it's a real crapshoot and some festivals are bad at letting you know the outcome. Though I was a finalist at Three Cities Film Festival this year, I never learned who won. I was a judge at this year's NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge and I think they run a good contest. I say have fun with it and be aware it's easy to get lost in the shuffle at contests that get more than a thousand entries.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks Philip for following up and good luck with your entry at the Sunscreen Film Festival ;-)

Anthony D Paul

I'll find out next year.

Tony Cella

I submitted one screenplay to Bluecat this year--it's a revised version of the one you read Phillip--and will speak to the quality of their feedback. They also provide the notes for free, which is a benefit to newbie screenwriters without a ton of pocket change. I'm confident I'll place this year, but who knows?

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Tony, Thanks for your comment. Are you planning on entering any other screenwriting competitions and if so, which ones do you have in mind and why?

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Tony: Good luck with the cat. I'm sure you'll place with your script. You're a terrific writer. I did Bluecat a couple of years back and rather enjoyed their free coverage and it's pretty good. They actually are a bit pricey on their entry fee but they're a good, reputable contest. Rickardo: I've had two more scripts get official selections at festivals since yesterday; and will be competing for winning spots for The Negro League and Purgatory Station.

Tony Cella

@Rickardo: I'm not sure yet. It depends on my financial status in the coming months. Besides entering Bluecat, I'm applying for graduate school and funding a short film for my director's reel. I'm considering applying for Screencraft's fellowship as well as entering their comedy contest. I might go for the Austin Film Festival next go round if I have extra coin lying around. @Phillip: Thanks for the vote of confidence. Most competitions charge extra for feedback, which justifies the slight hike in the price. Where are these mythical fee free contests you speak of?

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Philip, That's brilliant r.e. your screenplays getting official selections - good luck with it. It's really positive to see people doing well. Gives us all hope.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Tony, The financial challenges to entering these competitions on top of accessing supplementary screenwriting services (consultants, software) is tough. I am in the midst of that challenge too but good luck with BlueCat. If anything it will support your visibility as a screenwriter.

Tony Cella

Thanks Rickardo. Good luck to you as well.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Pleasure Tony and thanks ;-)

Brian Aldridge

They taught me to write stories that audiences and readers find interesting, not what "I" think is interesting.

A. S. Templeton

Re financial challenges: depending on the nastiness of the coffeeshop monkey on one's back, just giving up lattés and pastries for a week would easily pay for a single competition's fees (to say nothing of one's shrinking waistline). Forbear getting that trendy tattoo or other stoopid bodymod, and there's the cash for a plane ticket to attend ceremonies, or to buy some needed software tools. When one is seriously committed to the craft, the money will be there just as soon as one stops whining and sets up a budget.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your comment Brian. Are you planning on entering any competitions in the new year?

Dan Guardino

I only entered one but it did help me because I worked extra hard to try and get it ready. The script made the quarter finals which motivated me to keep trying.

Alex Bloom

Hi Rickardo, Our team at ScriptReaderPro.com put together this handy competitions calendar: http://www.scriptreaderpro.com/screenwriters-calendar-2016/ It lists all the major competitions, festivals, conferences, fellowships, labs and awards that you should look out for in 2016. You can save it to your own iCloud or Google calendar and make sure you keep on top of all that's moving and shaking in the world of screenwriting in 2016.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your comment Dan.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for the link Alex, it's really useful.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for the tip Jim.

Alex Bloom

No problem. Overall entering contests is not going to help you that much with your craft but they can help your career if you place highly in a major one such as the Nicholl, Austin, Scriptapalooza etc. Some provide coverage within the entry fee which may help with your craft, but often the quality of the notes isn't as good as from a pro coverage service.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Alex, I am certainly going to be on the mission this year. I've been working with a really great script consultant of late on my cannon of screenplays: http://inkmoves.com/home/category/film_screenplays/ so we'll see what feedback comes back from entering a few competitions.

Steven Wood

I've entered a few, was awarded at one, but nothing happened after that.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

You enter a screenwriting contest for one reason to gain access to people who can read your script and get your work made into a film. Be it a Producer, Manager, Agent, Director, or an A-List Star it doesn't matter it is all about access. As RB has pointed out time and again. He does say that If you place in Nicoll or Page you have a better shot than some of the others. But that is my take and from what I have read here from contributors, Stage 32 Staff and others that is WHY you enter a screenwriting contest. I looked at when this thread question was posted 4MONTHS AGO. Does not matter, Will ALWAYS be a very important topic for ANY screenwriter.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your comment Steven.

Becca-Chris M

For my co-writer and I, getting to the quarter-finals helped assure us that we were doing something right.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Becca, And will you enter other competitions this year?

Becca-Chris M

@Rickardo - My co-writer and I are planning to enter Screencraft's comedy contest, the Stage 32 comedy contest (if we are finished in time), and a couple others. Maybe Nicholl's.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Hi Becca, Good to hear from you. Why did you choose those competitions?

Becca-Chris M

We've entered Screencraft since the very first time they had a comedy contest. We placed quarterfinals with one script one year and with both the following year. So we just want to stick with that contest and see what we can do in it. If you advance, your script may have the chance to be read by someone in the industry. Same for Stage 32. Nicholl's is the big one, from everything I heard (same company that does the Oscars), so I really feel it's a solid contest. We've done some research on the contests and have really tried to zone in on those that may in fact advance our would-be career if we win.

Terri Viani

There are certainly competitions that come with a good return on your investment if you win - and sometimes even if you don't, but you manage to place. The Austin Film Festival has been good to me. First year I ever submitted to any festival I got to the AFF second round, got to go down there and network, had a great time, felt very much encouraged. Last year I didn't enter anything and was asked to be a competition reader which was an amazing, invaluable experience. They also give good notes. Worth the reasonable entry fee, if you ask me, even if I never win.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

@Becca: I agree with you about Screencraft. 1) They are a class act. 2) They are very picky, so if you place, you know you're doing pretty well.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

thanks for following up Becca and good luck with your entry.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your comment Terri.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks Philip for your feedback.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Rickardo: You're welcome, good luck and have fun with the contests.

Fiona Faith Ross

But does anyone ever get a film made from winning or placing in a contest?

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Fiona- I don't have the answer. Perhaps Joey Tuccio knows. I have to figure the odds are pretty high if you win or place at Nicoll. The others not so sure. Maybe Page or Austin. But I have a good feeling it has happened to the winners at Nicoll.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

FFR: Nichols has had a number of alumni get television and film writing jobs. Additionally, I've seen many producers, agents and director look at Page, Nichols, Austin and several other contests look winners, finalists and even semi-finalists. But don't look at your contest script as the end all on getting your script made. At this stage of the game, use your contest work as a calling card to get a paid writing gig.

Fiona Faith Ross

You know what guys? I'm past caring. Seriously. I've had so many opinions I feel I'm chopped into little pieces. I'm just gonna write my stuff. I don't care about contests except the money would be nice. More than one person has told me it makes them laugh. That's all that matters. I like comedy. I write irony and I'm just gonna write it. Sod the rest of the world. :) I'm in that place where I don't give a shit. Good place to be.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

If I don't place in a contest or film festival, I don't give a shit either. If I do, I care deeply.

Bill Costantini

The current Page and Nichols competitions inspired me to develop a drama that I would otherwise not have created if it weren't for the desire to win those two competitions. If it weren't for that external motivation, I'd still be focusing all of my work time on developing my broccoli-flavored popcorn business and writing comedies.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Bill: Page and Nichols are the holy grail of script contests. On Friday, a total (not from S32) asked me to evaluate their script and they also sent me their script coverage from Page and CWA contests. Though both of the evaluations were well thought out, I found the Page critique to be much more akin to what I believed was correct and certainly in line with my thinking. CWA gave the writer and Page gave the writer a pass. I told the writer I would pass after the first ten pages. CWA was much too kind in my opinion. Page is clearly a class outfit.

Bill Costantini

Phillip - thanks for the insights. And kudos to recently optioning your script Loved into Excellence to a reputable and successful Hollywood producer. I love that script and will be almost as happy as you will be when it gets made into a film. Way to go, buddy.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Bill: Thanks, we're waiting to here back from some folks on LIE. The true life crime story/family drama was pitched to me as a more gang centric story. However, when I read Deborah Nelson's memoirs, I saw it more as a personal story of an accomplished woman and mother overcoming tremendous health issues and personal loss. Deborah was also a triumphant, award winning educator in Sacramento. Deborah's daughter Monique gave her life shielding young son from being harmed. In addition to a screenplay he's shopping, the producer has secured an author to write Deborah's biography. This was also the first time I've ever interviewed the subject I was writing about. Deborah is in an ongoing battle to keep her daughter's killers behind bars. http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article3348766.html http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/tag/monique-nelson/

Bill Costantini

Phillip - I remember when that happened. It was on the news in San Diego, and I remember seeing a police officer carrying the little boy wearing a yellow coat away from the scene. What a terrible tragedy. Talking with Deborah Nelson must really be emotionally overwhelming at times. I'd have a hard time doing that. May the heavens and gods bless her and her family. And great work, Phillip. Keep the faith, bro.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks Philip ;-)

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your additional comments Bill.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

@Bill: Deborah made it a joy to speak with her, she's a beautiful soul and it was an exhilarating experience.

Mary Goldman

HI Everyone, Just thought I'd chime in with my two cents worth! I have a script on the Blacklist which got a nine. This has definitely resulted in getting reads from "industry pros" (though their identities are not revealed), great support from The Blacklist (they even had one of their designers design a poster and then e-blasted it to their membership), and was invited to workshop the screenplay at their mini-lab at TIFF last fall, which provided valuable mentoring. HOWEVER, that nine was from one reader. I had the script read a number of times after revisions, etc., and I got everywhere from a four to a nine. I also had a short script make 2nd Round last fall at Austin FF. After the festival was over I received their reads from two different readers. One began: "This story feels fresh and original", the other: "The concept wasn't new or original". The two reads were completely opposite! I had to laugh out loud! Proof in writing of how subjective the medium is. Ultimately, I liken the whole thing to a giant pin ball machine--it all depends on who you get batted to up the line. Having said all that, I do believe mentioning a high placement at Austin, or on The Blacklist, or any of the well-respected competitions in a query does help get your script read. I've had a number of script requests, but so far no bites… Unfortunately, these competitions are a necessary "evil". There are so many writers, so much material, and not enough industry readers--they have to have some sort of weeding out process. I try to think of it as a hobby--what would I spend if I was a weekend skier, carpenter or knitter? On receiving feedback: I follow this rule-of-thumb: if I get the same note from three different readers I pay attention to it. The rest I go with what resonates with me and pitch what doesn't.

Zlatan Mustafica

I agree with Mary on this. Feedback on several of my scripts has been great and very helpfull as I took some valid pointers to heart and rewrote the script and made it matter. However, I have also recieved different notes on the same story that do not match each other at all. What one reader found as good the other one didn´t and vice versa, which I guess, goes to show again how subjective it all really is. If a reader does not like a certain story or doesn´t get it even, it doesn´t mean someone else would feel the same way, One of my sci-fi screenplays, was torn apart by one reader in a competition I entered and another thought the story had great potential and promise. I try not to dwell on details but focus on taking to heart notes about structure, plotting and character development and of course whatever in that feedback may help me actually improve on the story. As a screenwriter, you always have to stay positive and keep working and working and working.

Regina Lee

I believe Danny Manus has made these points before. Two points to factor in: You are paying for feedback. A coverage service of whatever nature needs your business. They want you to feel good and come back as a repeat customer. 1) The readers on staff might be instructed to find positive things to say about most every script because happy customers are repeat customers. The readers might also be instructed to find negative things about most every script because they want you to come back for more help. 2) A reader who is getting paid $40 to cover a script may not have the current marketplace knowledge to advise well. That person might be a film school student with no more marketplace knowledge than your own. These are just possibilities. That said, yeah, it's surprising to read that you're getting comments that are in polar opposition to each other.

Bill Costantini

Mary - widely-varying opinions/scores by scriptreaders and judges in contests can really be a hair-pulling experience at times, to be sure, but at the same time, I've been in rooms where Subject Matter Experts in their esteemed fields couldn't agree on the potential quality of new products or companies to buy; where doctors couldn't agree on a diagnosis and treatment plan; and where attorneys couldn't agree on the interpretations of state statutes. In America, at least we all can agree that something like universal health care is a good thing for all Americans. Oh wait..........

Mary Goldman

Bill, as a Canadian (I live in Toronto) enjoying socialized healthcare, I have to say we are mystified about that…but that's a whole other ball 'o wax...

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I believe Regina's correct about judges attempting to find positive things to say about any script they read; although, I’ve also experienced the contrary. In my experience as a contest judge, I had/have no agenda about the feedback I provide and the only instructions that competition has given me is to not be mean spirited with feedback and that critical remarks should be offered in a constructive manner. Personally, I don’t think anyone should make nasty remarks about someone else’s work; even if they’re thinking it. Two weeks ago, another writer I didn’t know asked me to read their period piece script, review judge’s feedback from two contests and offer my own evaluation of the work. One of the judges from a well-known contest was far too kind to the writer and gave them mostly 9’s on the numeric scorecard and a “recommend” on the work. The other feedback came from one of the top script contests and gave the writer mostly 5’s on the numeric scorecard and a “pass” on the script. However, before I reviewed the contest feedback, I read the script, wrote notes on it for the writer, did a scorecard and several pages of script notes. Though I was far more specific about areas of the narrative and dialogue, my scores and evaluation was quite similar to the second contest with the lower scores. I suspect more established contests may have a more vetted out system of selecting their readers and judges; but even then, what kind of feedback you get is still a crap shoot. I’m not sure if it’s a question of what the reader is getting paid. With a script completion, even Austin or Page, it’s really a question of who reads your script and that’s totally a crap shoot. I look at judge’s feedback as a secondary aspect of a script contest. I would never use it at my primary script coverage. The advantage of going to online script consultant is that you can choose who you want, which allows you to do your due diligence and determine if the consultant is a good fit for your work.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks Mary for your initial comment.

Rickardo Beckles-Burrowes

Thanks for your additional feedback Regina and Phillip.

Robert Rosenbaum

I just asked this question in a post here of my own and Beth Fox Heisinger directed me to this thread. My new screenplay "The Manny" (logline on my page) just made the quarter-finals of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. It was also selected as a semifinalist in the 2016 Table Read My Screenplay Completion (Park City). As far a The Black List I've received 5 - 7. The feedback I have received has been varied. I am currently entered in the Comedy Screenplay contest here at S32. As of now I have spent several hundred dollars on contests. I do feel good about being able to include the above placements in a query, but I think probably I should end the contest entries. (I am thinking about one more - ISA Fast Track. Am I becoming a contest junkie?) It just seems as though it is SOMETHING proactive I can do. When does it end and what to do next?

Mary Goldman

Hi Robert, Kudos on Bluecat and TRMS! I'm close to where you are at now...so I'm thinking that from now on I'm only going to be very selective and only enter contests that have the most cache (Nicholls, Austin, Page, etc.). Or for ones that offer their finalists some kind of press, i.e. loglines blasted to producers, etc. As well, I've opted in for the CONNECT feature on ISA which posts script requests, and taken a membership (monthly fee) with SellingYourScreenplay.com, which sends daily leads for scripts requests (as well as provides critiques on loglines and query letters) . I'm considering doing the same with Inktip (anyone had any success there?). The hope is that one of the actual leads will pan out. I have had script requests through them, but not the right fit yet. As well, I'm continuing to query agents, managers, production companies, etc...that's my strategy for now...hope this helps...

Robert Rosenbaum

Hi Mary! Thanks for the kudos :) One of the contests I entered offered free membership to ISA Connect (I'm not sure for how long... ) so I am on their mailing list for leads. I am also signed up with SellingYourScreenplay.com and did one of the email blasts. Having the competition placements has certainly helped both my pitch and my pitch confidence. The email blast did OK (about a dozen requests) I have yet to hear back from any of the people who requested my script. I have found there is nothing funny about comedy! It is a hard spec sell. I am also on InkTip. I had more luck with it many years ago, but I was also pitching a noir detective script back then. Low budget horror seems to be what garners the most attention on InkTip. I guess the point is to "just do something." I believe 99.9% of the time scripts that don't leave your computer will not sell. I am currently in the process of setting up a table read for "The Manny." I'm not fully sure if there is any other end to this then to hear the script, but again... I just want to do something!

Bo. R. R. Tolkien

waste of money.

Mary Goldman

Hi Bo, Could you be more specific...any constructive ideas to share?

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