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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SoCal Gun Girls – Optioned! - posted by wonkavite

Listen up, peeps! STS is thrilled to announce that C.J. Walley’s SoCal Gun Girls has now been optioned by Malcholm Reese, owner of MJR Visuals (Washington DC.)  We’ll keep you apprised as things progress.  In the meantime, head on over to C.J.’s personal website here, and see what else he has in store!

About the writer, C.J. Walley: I began writing in 2012 and I’m pleased to say it’s been very exciting so far. I have been fortunate enough to have a short produced by a director in London and Amazon Studios have spotlighted one of my features as a notable project. My scripts place within the top 10% of various major screenwriting competitions and, as I continue to write specs, I am remotely collaborating with a producer in LA on a comedy series, working with a director in New Orleans on a thriller, and blogging for Stage 32. I’m here to do two things, work hard and make friends. My writing has a down and dirty tone, deep emotion, gritty action, wry humor, and features strong female leads. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, then I’d love to join forces with you whatever the scale, do not hesitate to reach out and drop me a line. (CJ “AT” CJwalley DOT COM; http://www.cjwalley.com)

 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Original Script Sunday for April 26th - posted by Don

Over on the Unproduced Scripts page are twenty two original scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Friday, April 24, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 5 - posted by AnthonyCawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 5: Competitions

I decided to enter a few competitions last year with some of my short scripts… And quickly discovered that, as screenwriters, we are spoilt for choice. There’s hundreds of contests out there, with new ones starting every year. So which ones should you be entering, and spending your hard earned money on?

When all was said and done, I collected one 1st place, one Runner’s up, a Third, a Finalist and one Semi-Finalist placing. (In the interest of full disclosure, I also entered five more scripts that got absolutely nowhere. Nada. Zilch!) But I did gain knowledge and experience in the process – and that’s valuable as well.

But, let’s back up for a moment and ask one important question… Exactly why do you want to enter competitions in the first place? For me, it was reasons 3 and 4 from the list below. But different competitions offer different opportunities. It’s important to define your goals at the very start, in order to plan proper strategy. Do you want to:

  1. Get yourself an agent, manager, producer.
  2. Get professional coverage.
  3. Win prizes, such as money/trophies/software/film festival passes, etc.
  4. Add ‘award winning screenwriter’ to your resume.
  5. A mix of various aspects of the above.

Let’s consider these motives, one by one.

1) Obtaining an Agent, Manager or Producer

There are only a handful of screenplay contests that will consistently get you this level of attention – and then only if you place semi finalist or finalist. These are the big players in the game: The Academy Nicholl Fellowship, Page Awards, Scriptapalooza, BlueCat, and a handful of others (that I have less direct experience with.)

But remember – if you’re angling for these big fish – these contests attract thousands of entries. Competition will certainly be fierce!

Page has been around for over 10 years and has a $25,000 First Prize. In 2014, it was won by Matias Caruso, whose shorts have been showcased here on Moviepoet, SS, and in STS.

Nicholl has been around even longer – thirty years and receives over 7000 entries annually. Up to five winners can receive $35,000 fellowships.

Scriptapalooza has been in the game over 17 years, receiving over 4000 entries annually. One major plus: the judges are all agents, managers or producers and the first prize is $10,000.

BlueCat has been around since 1998, attracting over 4000 entries per year. This one boasts a $15,000 grand prize (and $10,000 for the winning short too!)

Not to mention other high profile comps, like Final Draft’s Big Break, Script Pipeline, Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, etc. Score big with one of these, and your feature, short or TV pilot could connect with the ‘right’ people.

2) Get coverage

You can get coverage from a variety of sources – from the free opinion of people right here on the SS boards, to shelling out hundreds of dollars for professional readers (of varying quality.) You can also get it as a result of entering some screenplay contests – which is sometimes packaged as part of the entry fee. Bluecat does that. So does ReelWriters. So when you are contemplating a competition, research if they do a coverage package – and determine if that’s useful for you.

3) Win something

Prizes range all over the map: nice trophies. Free software, discounted services… all the way up to some pretty substantial monetary prizes. Check out what the competition you’re considering offers – and if it’s something valuable to you. IE: is it worth spending $30 to enter a competition for a copy of Final Draft 9, if you bought a copy recently? Probably not – if that’s all that a win will mean.

4) Award winning screenwriter bragging rights

Does this matter? Well, if it’s Page, Nicholl, etc – then yes, it probably does. As for the others… Well, here’s how I think about it personally. When trying to persuade producers/directors to read your scripts, I think ‘award winning’ may help get your script read. (And maybe even read first.) It may also be something a producer might be able to use while marketing your work. I’ve never heard anyone say it’s a bad thing. Though you have to balance that against the cost of multiple entry fees!

5) All the above (or any combination)

Hey – wouldn’t it be grand to win a competition and really score? Get the prizes, the coverage, the bragging rights – and have your work seen and produced? Well, one can definitely dream. And if you back it up with hard work… those dreams do sometimes come close enough to reach…!

Researching Competitions and Lists

Okay – so you’ve decided competitions are worth a try. But if you’re not ready to tackle Nicholl, where can learn about the smaller fry? Here are a few handy links that I’ve used in my searches – complete with details on submission requirements, deadlines, etc…

1) Movie Byteshttp://www.moviebytes.com/

2) InkTiphttp://inktip.com/competition_directory.php

3) FilmFreeway (Film Festivals too) https://filmfreeway.com/

4) Without A Box – (Film Festivals too)https://www.withoutabox.com/

* It’s worth pointing out that some Film Festivals – like Austin, Nashville, etc – have screenwriting comps within their festivals. Getting into the finals of these often includes free passes for the festival as well.

Finally, let’s end with a few tips – garnered both from my own experience and common sense:

1) Thoroughly research any competition you are thinking of entering. How long has it been established, who runs it? Are there any complaints online? If you have serious doubts… spend your money elsewhere.

2) Does it have a genre bias and does any bias fit with your script(s)? If so, use this to your advantage.

3) Does it offer different categories for scripts, e.g. Drama, Horror, Comedy? In general, the more categories the better. That means that your horror opus won’t be competing against indie dramedies. (Especially good if you get a reader whose favorite film is Juno!

4) Do all scripts have to have a certain theme? I found an Australian comp where all the films had to involve dogs!

5) What can you afford? Competition entries can mount up fast. Always spend wisely. Look for discounts via sites like FilmFreeway and MovieBytes. And take advance of early entry discounts, too.

6) Do you want your script tied up? Most competitions have “no option” entry requirements. If your script’s been optioned/sold, that disqualifies it from competition. Now, that’s no problem if you’ve just landed a $10K option. But what if someone wants to option it for free, or $1? Remember, too, that many competitions have very long entry windows. Your script could be ‘considered’ for months.

7) Read the rules carefully. Make sure you understand all the requirements, and any rights you’re potentially signing away. (For instance, winning the Disney Fellowship or entering the Amazon Studio competition requires certain compromises.)

8) This should go without saying, but make sure you send in the best version of your script possible. And I don’t just mean the strongest story. I mean proofread the script within an inch of it’s life. Why spoil your chances – and waste your money – with a poorly formatted script, strewn with typos and littered with grammatical errors?

9) Send a properly formatted script in PDF format. Word docs and other files are a strict no-no.

10) Don’t forget to take your name and address details off the script title sheet if the competition asks for it (Page does, for instance).

So what now? Get out there and research! Pick your competitions wisely. Polish your script until it shines. Then submit…. And let it go. It’s in the hands of the judges now….

About Anthony: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Bad SF Can Teach Us About Writing Screenplay Description – Repost from CHIPSTREET - posted by wonkavite

What Bad SF Can Teach Us About Writing Screenplay Description

You wanna write screenplays?  Seriously?  Hopefully for a living?  Well, one thing you’ve got to do is perfect your art. Write. Rewrite.  And keep plugging away… nonstop. Keep polishing your craft until it shines!

…and be open to lessons learned from those who’ve been in the trenches, and blazed the same trail that you seek.  STS is happy to be reposting a series of articles from ChipStreet.  Folks, this is a terrific website – we recommend that you check it out in more depth!  (Original article available here: http://chipstreet.com/2011/06/24/what-bad-science-fiction-can-teach-us-about-writing-screenplay-description/)

About Chip: Chip Street is an IMDB credited indie screenwriter, director, and art director. His short films have screened at festivals, and his feature screenplays have been optioned and sold. He is a screenplay analyst, competition finalist, screenplay judge for a major industry competition, screener for an International film festival, founder of Write Club Screenplay Challenge, and a respected blogger on the art and business of screenwriting. He’s been published or cited by The BlueCat Competition Newsletter, Script Magazine, JohnAugust.com, Bleeding Cool, NoFilmSchool, ScriptTips and IndieWire.com.

*******

What bad science fiction can teach us about writing screenplay description

Originally posted on June 24, 2011 by Chip Street

Why too much detail destroys screenplay description – and pisses readers off

I just finished slogging my way through another script as a judge for a screenplay competition.

Yes, slogging. It was painful. It was boring. Frankly, I couldn’t finish it. I gave it a “pass”.

Because the writer gave me too much description.

Exactly how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop

The screenwriter told us just how many steps a character took to cross a room (11), whether the couch was on the right or the left of the doorway (left), how many seconds a dog barked (5), and precisely how much space is between the lights in an alleyway (30 meters). I learned that the kitchen table is rectangular, and how big it is (approximately 33 inches by 60 inches).

I wanted to shoot myself in the head. For the record, this is not how you want to make your reader feel.

Perhaps because this was a sci-fi script, the writer fell victim to the classic hyperspecificity of Golden Age authors like Arthur Clarke (whose penchant for detailing the precise number of rivets in a spaceship might make for good geekery, but doesn’t make for good Literature [opinion] or screenwriting [fact]).

But consider this: even between the covers of a sci-fi bestseller, there’s such a thing as too many words. Too much specific description. Too much time spent on details that are not story critical, and that actually disrupt the rhythm and pacing of the read.

The Larry Niven reference

Once, many years ago, I had brunch with acclaimed sci-fi writer Larry Niven, and he shared a story about the writing of the bestseller Ringworld. He said that he spent days writing about a detailed and lavish banquet. Every exotic food, roasted creature, colorful fruit, bizarre drink, strange and alien utensil. He loved it, and was so proud of it.

Then he turned it over to his sometime writing partner Jerry Pournelle for some honest feedback. Jerry, he said, was a ruthless editor. Jerry reduced the scene down to two words:

 They ate.

Larry laughed. He said Jerry was right. He didn’t need it. He had to kill his baby.

But I see the movie in my head

I know, I know. The writer saw the movie in her head and needed to share it. Every moment was crystal, the dramatic void of silence as the protagonist thoughtfully crossed the room was critical to pacing and mood. I get that.

I get why the lights were 30 meters apart, I do … because that vision of a black alleyway punctuated with pools of yellow light was mysterious.

So say that. In that minimalist syllable-counting haiku that is (or should be) screenwriting. In the way that makes every word count. In a way that’s artful. In a way that doesn’t suck the life out of it, and devolve into a soul-less mechanical blueprint for the set designer.

In a way that doesn’t make the reader (and that’s your audience) roll his eyes and shut your script on page four after you’ve pulled him out of the story because you can’t get to the fucking point.

And no, it won’t be easy. That’s why not just anyone can do this. As I said in Writing Screenplay Description with Personal Style:

… it’s a tricky balance… Style (with a capital “S”) can’t supersede the screenwriting tenet of direct simplicity. It’s an interesting challenge, to introduce enough of your Style to create a personal voice, while avoiding the hyper-specificity of extraneous detail that slows down the real-time pace, and readers hate.

It’s not your job

Here’s what you need to know, young newbie. It’s not your job to design the sets. It’s not your job to costume the talent, or do their hair.

It’s not your job to choose camera angles, or block the action.

It’s not your job to direct.

Yes, sometimes, it is story critical to drop in a hyper-specific detail like “the couch was on the left”. If you’re writing Memento, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or Run, Lola, Run, those details may resurface, and make themselves important to the story.

But as a reader, let me say this: If you specify that the couch is on the left, or that he takes 11 steps across the room, or the dog barks for 5 seconds, those details damn well better be story points. ‘Cuz I’m going to be waiting for them to justify themselves in some important way.

And they better.

But I like to write all that description

I got the feeling, reading this painful script, that maybe what the writer really wanted to do was write a sci-fi novel.

Then write a novel. Seriously. Maybe that’s what you excel at … maybe that’s what really stokes your creative embers. Maybe sorting out and displaying all those fabulous details, all that texture, is the language of your art. And good for you, dammit. Go forth and do it. Between the covers of a book.

But remember Larry’s story … remember that even there, less can indeed be more.

BY THE WAY: I am compelled to assure you, dear reader, that I did not actually lift any lines verbatim from the script. I paraphrased, to create a representative example. No inappropriate plagiarism to see here. Move along.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cow Boy – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

Cow Boy

An isolated rancher is surprised when a small boy wanders on to his property all alone.

Show it – don’t say it.

Screenwriters who have been in the biz for any length of time know this phrase.  As originally meant, it’s a rule of thumb regarding exposition, and a protection against “talking heads”.  Never have characters sit and explain something, if you can do it visually.  It’s far more dynamic. Keeps your audience’s attention.

But one can take the meaning further, into the realm of dialogue.  Don’t get us wrong: writing dialogue’s a finely honed skill.  But creating a tale told almost completely in pictures? That’s a whole ‘nother range of impressive.

David T. Harwood’s Cow Boy does just that.  Consisting of only two characters – and dialogue only on one side.

The speaking role belongs to the never-named Rancher: a grizzled cowpoke in his seventies.  He lives alone in the country, watching continually over his herd.  But things have gotten strange these days.  Making his rounds in the morning, he finds one of his cows lying gutted in the snow… and human footprints leading away.

The next morning, a visitor arrives on his doorstep.  It’s a young, wild-eyed boy – with a motorcycle helmet on his head.  The kid looks feral and famished, so the Rancher lets him in.  He feeds the child, and asks questions.  But the boy refuses to speak.  Over the next several days, The Rancher attempts again to glean information from his guest.  Where did the Boy come from? Where’s his family?  How has he survived on his own?  Still nothing.  But the Rancher’s used to solitude; the Boy’s company’s a welcome change.  The child will talk when he’s ready. But when? And what will be revealed?

A richly detailed script, readings of Cow Boy evoke visions of a desolate countryside – in all its beauty and isolation.  One can imagine what it would look like on the screen.  And the two roles?  Limited to minimal dialogue, the Boy and the Rancher characters thrive on physical acting. Emotion via body language.  In other words, perfect roles for talented actors, ready to give it all they’ve got.

About the writer: Want to know more about writer David Harwood?  Mosey on over to his blog at davidtharwood.com, or via Twitter and Facebook at FB: davidtharwood, Twitter @davidtharwood

Pages: 6

Budget: You’ll need access to a mid-western countryside, and a few farm animals.  That – and two wonderfully skilled actors!

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ashley – screenplay - posted by Don

Thanks Domenic Migliore for the heads up on his script, Ashley (originally Sprawl). You can watch the film directed by Dean Matthew Ronalds on Amazon Instant Video.*

Ashley – October 11, 2011 final draft script by Domenic Migliore – hosted by: Scribd – in pdf format

A teenage girl, distraught from her vain attempt to connect with her estranged mother, resorts to cutting herself. When she develops an online relationship with an older woman, she learns to accept her sexuality and the endless solitude of sprawling suburbia.

Information courtesy of imdb.com

*I fixed the broken link.

Calling Women screenwriters over the age of 40 - posted by Don

The Writers Lab will bring 8 women screenwriters over the age of 40 together with established mentors from the film industry for an intimate gathering and intensive workshop at Wiawaka Center for Women on Lake George, NY from September 18-20, 2015.

SimplyScripts will fund the submission of Any Women Screenwriter who is a member of the SimplyScripts discussion board who applys for this. Just go to the Discussion board and private message me, “I am applying NYWIFT”.

For information on how to apply, visit New York Women in Film & Television.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Original Script Sunday – April 19th - posted by Don

After a two week hiatus, we have forty seven original scripts over on the Unproduced Scripts page.

– Don

Friday, April 17, 2015

Glitch – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - posted by wonkavite

Glitch

Winner of the Nashville Film Festival Short Script Award!

A desperate wife resorts to extreme measures to ensure her husband gets the lifesaving operation he needs. 

Don’t let the Polly Annas lie to you.  Money, it’s darned near everything.  Especially when you don’t have it. And need it: desperately.  Hollow politician promises aside, that’s a universal fact of life. And just as likely to be true in the future as today.

Take Amber and George’s situation, for instance: living in squalor in a cyberpunk world.  In need of medical assistance.  You see, George needs his appendix removed. Preferably yesterday.  But they can’t afford the operation.  Even the dirty, black market kind.  Which leaves do-it-yourself as the remaining option. Too bad neither of them has surgical training.

Fortunately, there are walk-through education modules you can buy.  Which is about as good as it’s gonna get for impoverished folks like these two.  So Amber plunks a broken down virtual reality gaming set on her head, and rolls plastic across the kitchen table.  A quick injection sends George to la-la land.  Time for that crucial first incision.

Blood oozes. The clock ticks down.  Amber stumbles through the steps as best she can. And it looks like all’s going (relatively) well.  But is it truly ever wise to attempt surgery with last year’s Atari tech?  Not to mention an expired warrantee?

Written by screenplay veteran Anthony Cawood, Glitch is what SF should be.  Gritty, dark and satiric. And electrifyingly entertaining.

About the writer: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Pages: 14

Budget: Pretty  low.  Two actors. And alley and a dirty room.  Oh – and some tripped out Nintendo gear.

Read Glitch

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

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