Screenwriting : Scriptapalooza by Matthew J. Kaplan

Matthew J. Kaplan


I hope it's ok to post about specific writing contests, especially when it is not one directly connected to Stage32. Here are my questions:

1. Is it better to submit to a writing contest or apply for the fellowship? (I'm sure both is the best answer, but I have already been submitting my short film to festivals and need to keep within a budget)

2. Does it matter how I submit? (Directly, through ISA, through FilmFreeway)

3. Does submitting with a feedback request increase one's chances?

I'm new to the writing competition world and find the whole thing daunting - all feedback is welcomed. Thank you! Matt

Nathan Smith

I've just started submitting to screenwriting contests as well, personally, I'm only interested in ones that offer connections with industry professionals. I think the only nice thing about submitting through ISA is that sometimes they offer a discount but I don't think it improves your chances nor does a feedback request for I'm sure they are writing it down anyway for the purposes of judging and you're just paying to see their notes.

Anthony Moore

Here are my research and experience with contests:

1) If you live in or near L.A., (or are willing to spend the money to stay) - Fellowship are best. If you live elsewhere and/or are on a budget - Contests are the way to go.

2) Not really. But if you are a member of ISA and enter one of their contests, you may get a slight discount. Film freeway has a few discounts but makes it easier to keep track if you are entering many contests over time.

3) No. Feedback just tells you how to fix your screenplay, usually after the judging has ended. Only a few contests even send you feedback before judging and allow you to resubmit after the first round of judging.

Contest are a good way to build your resume if you win/place but on the top 10-20 will actually help your career.

John Ellis

Honestly, contests are a waste of time and money. 99% of them are pandering to the dream mystique of the "big break." Think about how many winners of even the biggest ones are actually making a living writing. And that's the winners - forget about runners up, etc. Best way is to read and write over and over again; then get on set and work, work hard work, professionally, make connections. Write something small and short and produce it yourself. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Kay Luke

What John Ellis said, with the possible exception of the Nichols Fellowship and maybe the Page awards.

Further, writing for contest and writing for production is not the same. That's why contest winning scripts hardly ever get produced. A lucky contest winner might get a writing assignment, but he has no better chance of selling a script than he does with cold queries.

As for paying for feedback, that's a dubious proposition at best-- what are they going to do? Tell you you have no talent and not to pay to enter again next year?

Dan MaxXx

Dunno. Everyone has their own take on career paths. I'd suggest attend Austin Film Festival next month. Meet your competition and listen to pro peers who have the jobs we want.

Kay Luke

Speaking for myself, I got the job I want.

I don't need to listen to someone else.

Sinatra knows.

Bill Costantini

Hi Matthew,

I strongly disagree with the posters above me who say reputable contests are a waste of time and money. They need to be better informed, if they don't know any better.

Scriptapalooza has opened doors for hundreds of writers, as have many other reputable contests and competitions. They also list the Readers in their competitions, and they all work at high levels in the industry. Their Fellowship Program provides guidance from reputable industry pros - one of them blogs quite regularly on Stage32 - and access to almost 100 producers.

How anyone can be against opportunities for writers/filmmakers in these highly, highly, highly-competitive fields is beyond me, but so be it. But it's your call, Matthew.

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Matthew!

Doug Nelson

There are good, reputable festivals & there are bad non reputable festivals and a whole lot inbetween. Keep in mind that the festivals are first & foremost business - their own profit making comes first. If a contest/festival happens upon a worthy script - they will run with it to the best of their ability and do whatever they can with it to make a buck. That's just the nature of the real world: There are no absolutes.

There are a whole lot of contests/festivals out there of which I think (my opinion only) about half a dozen are really worth their salt. When it comes to promoting noob writers I think (my opinion only) that the remainder range from mediocre to horrible. Generally speaking (no absolutes) I have to agree with John E. Also I think (my opinion only) that Scriptapalooza ain't bad..

Noureddine Hifad

happy to see you back Doug

Dan Guardino

Bill I do agree. I personally don't enter contests because I am not trying to get a job or even sell a screenplay. However I do think a lot of people won't accept material because they assume it won't be up to industry standards (well-written). If a screenwriter can say one or two of their screenplays placed high enough or won a reputable contest I believe they would probably get more people to read one of their screenplays and getting people to read your screenplays is why we write them. The problem with screenwriting is nobody knows what will pay off or when so I believe people have to try everything they can these days because of the competition if fierce.

Jason Mirch

Hey Matthew J. Kaplan Thanks for posting! I am the Director of Script Services for Stage 32. I think that regardless of the method by which you enter contests, I think the biggest thing to consider are the prizes for the contests. I mean, really how many copies of Final Draft do we need? And trophies are cool and make us feel good but they aren't getting us jobs. I think the thing that really separates out Stage 32 from other contests is that our winners are set up with real meetings with real managers, producers, development executives and financiers. I personally had a hand in getting two of our last contest winners signed by huge management companies based off their projects and meetings I set up. Would these writers have achieved success on their own? No doubt. They are incredibly talented writers. But Stage 32 was able to shorten their path to success through writing contests. Anyone who says they are a waste of time is not entering the right ones.

Matthew J. Kaplan

Hi Jason, it looks like there are no open contests. What upcoming contests are planned? Thanks!

Doug Nelson

Noureddine, thank you for your comment but my continued presence here is surely tenuous at best as I don't suffer trolls or snowflakes well. It's just a personal thing with me.

John Ellis

As usual, Dan MaxXx has spoken clearly, succinctly: "Everyone has their own take on career paths."

For me, IMHO, contest are a waste. Others have expressed opinions contrary to that, and I have full respect for every poster. You gotta choose your own goals, take your own path, measure your success by your own standards. I may disagree with some, but I would never belittle a different viewpoint. We're all here spouting our opinions, but Matthew J. Kaplan, you gotta do what seems right to you.

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