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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Exclusive Interview – An intimate (hot, steamy and snarky) chat with optioned writer Steven Prowse and Anthony Cawood - post author Anthony Cawood

Steven Prowse – Get to know him, love him – and be real jealous!

Interviewed by own Anthony Cawood

Today we’ve the pleasure of interviewing Steven Prowse, who was good enough to answer my questions, both insightful and inane!

Steven has placed in over 130 competitions, winning 25 in the process with numerous quarter and semi final places to boot… he’s also just optioned a true WWII feature for a mid six figure sum to Hollywood!

To super-glue a smile to everyone’s faces, please take a look at dear Mr. Prowse’s IMDB page.

Trust us – this is a guy you want to have burned into your synapses. In a very good way…

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on yourself and how you got into screenwriting?

A: In my teens I was a math geek who hated English. English was way too subjective for my tastes. But I was somehow awarded a Scholarship to Cambridge University to read Math. After that I fell into accounting (this is where you start to feel sad for me) and am currently at CFO level (maybe not so sad). I’ve also played bridge at international level. So there was nothing in my history to suggest I would, could or should ever write.

However, in 1999 I took a year sabbatical and quickly became bored. One can only watch so much daytime TV before one’s IQ starts bleeding through the eyes. One random shopping trip I decided to challenge myself, and all I could think of was to write a novel. English – my nemesis. By the time I arrived home I had the first and last chapters pretty much verbatim, but it took almost the full year to connect the dots.

As research, it included personal tours of the White House, the DoJ Building and the main FBI Building. This was pre 9/11 – I’m not sure such accommodation would be granted now. It also involved getting some FBI agents drunk. Did they really think they could compete with a writer? I learned so much those two nights – especially on the second night when they brought in the professional drinkers. Their loss. My gain. Oh how they’ll talk!

It turned out, to my utter surprise, that I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process, with or without alcohol. The novel, like 98% of written novels, has never been published, though I am tempted to e-publish it myself next year. I never set out to have it published in any case – it was just to keep the brain cogs turning.

After the sabbatical, back to work for another twelve years before taking another sabbatical. I wanted to write again but didn’t fancy a whole novel – quite the investment. I remember snapping at one-too-many movies where it appeared the script had been written by a computer which had simply taken another script and moved some of the words and scenes around. I can’t even remember if it was an action movie or a rom-com.

Screenplays it was then. I preferred it in any case as there is no inner monologue and you don’t take a page describing the scenery. As a result, they are smaller projects (usually around 15-20% of the number of words of a novel), so one can have more variety in a year with different projects. Hence the plethora of screenplays out there floating on the internet vying for attention.

Q: And how many features, shorts etc have you written now?

A: Other than the novel in 1999, I wrote five features in 2013, one based on the novel: a Mel Brooks satire of all things Hollywood, an FBI Procedural, a medieval horror, a true WW2 story, and a low-budget children’s movie. The rest of my spare time since then has been spent revising and editing them – a never-ending process.

I have written a premise for a TV show which has won a first and second place, but I have yet to develop it.

I also have in my head a hopefully compelling and unique 7-hour TV drama. I’ve written down a detailed synopsis, the beats for each episode, but have yet to commit myself to actually writing it in full. If I can garner success with the other projects I have invested so much time, energy and passion into, then maybe I’ll pick it up. I’ve dreamt every episode. I’ve got to the stage where I refuse to expend any more energy on screenwriting, despite the successes.

Q: Did you undertake any formal training, courses or just jump in?

A: Warren Buffet once advised never to test the depth of the water with both feet. What does that billionaire know about anything? I ignored that and jumped straight in.

Q: Any advice for beginner screenwriters based on what you learnt with your first few scripts?

A: Please note that any answers I give forthwith (and above) are based on two-and-a-half years of intensive competition entries. Despite any successes, a certain amount of jaded, tired ennui will seep through. Please filter accordingly.

Feedback, patience and a thick skin rule in equal measure. Do not think your first scripts, and certainly not the first drafts of any scripts, are any good. 99.9% of the time they won’t be. The temptation once the wonderful first draft is done is to throw it and money into competitions and sit back vaingloriously awaiting the inevitable praise and offers that will come your way.

Send it to friends who will be truthful with you. Spend some money on independent reviews, even if they only offer feedback of a few pages. It will be cash well spent in the long run. Enter it in competitions that also provide this service as part of the entrance fee if you like. As I said, English is subjective and there is nothing worse than yourself appraising your own work.

Also, be careful over the first few scripts not to inject your personal favorite sayings, phrases and habits in different scripts. It’s an easy unconscious slip. Always focus on producing different, defined characters that are not similar cuttings of you.

Q: You are massively successful in screenwriting competitions, I think I counted 25 outright wins for all five features, plus nine 2nds and over a hundred official selections. What prompted you to go the competition route?

A: Exposure. Being a first-time screenwriter it was the only way to attract any attention from agents, managers or producers. The spam query letter, despite it being professionally sculptured, rarely (if ever) succeeds, not even with boutique companies.

Q: How did you assess and select the competitions you entered?

A: At the beginning I didn’t. It was pretty much a costly scatter-gun approach – the competition version of a spam query letter. Of course, I did the research and found out the top competitions and entered them but, in the beginning trying to get placings on my CV, it was a question of width rather than quality. I pretty much entered everything. There was also the hope of a quick placing for my own comfort that I must be doing *something* right. Many screenwriters do this. We are insecure.

Of course, as the placings and wins started to mount up I had the width, so quality became more important. Enter Phase II. Now I tend to avoid the pure internet-based competitions. There are some good ones out there that are not connected with a land-based film festival, but most are worthless by name, just by number. Now I research the history of the competition (I never enter a competition in its first year – it almost certainly won’t carry any weight), try to find comments from previous entrants, etc, etc.

Q: What’s the biggest you’ve won in your opinion?

A: A trickier question than one might think. In terms of potential exposure, it would have to be the long-running and popular Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival for the true WW2 story. Not only did it win Best Historical Screenplay, but was awarded a Special Jury Award as well. Potential exposure, yes, but nothing came of it.

In terms of ‘biggest’ from a personal point of view, and possibly the biggest surprise, it would have to be Best Screenplay for the same true WW2 story from the Female Eye Film Festival based in Toronto. This festival focuses on the advancement of women as directors, screenwriters and actors. I was lucky enough to attend last year and the dedication they spend trying to promote women at all levels in the industry is quite awe-inspiring.

Come the awards ceremony, I obviously did not expect to win, even though the script focuses on the true story of an all-woman air-regiment that basically bombed the crap out of the German forces, and the battles to have the regiment formed in the first place. No one with male genitalia had won in any category in its twelve year history. Yet I did. I really wish I had refrained from Writers’ Drink before the acceptance speech…

Q: What’s your favorite competition and why?

That’s an easy one. ReelHeART, based in Toronto. The enthusiasm and energy of the organizer, Shannonn Kelly, the fact that the top three nominated scripts get a full table read (an invaluable experience), the fact that unpaid actors rehearse these scripts time and time again and that they are integral to the whole festival…it just energizes you to a level you never thought you could attain.

Q: And what have you learnt from your incredible run in competitions?

To be honest, that most competitions (the internet ones) are there simply to make money from wannabe screenwriters like myself and do not care for their career. Skimming the market. Many boast great judges, great connections and that the winning script will be sent to their contacts. Maybe that is kosher, maybe it is not. Who can tell? But most agents / managers / producers will not have heard of these competitions nor care. As I said, there are exceptions of course.

But it’s a symbiotic relationship. I accepted most were not worth a damn but wanted some sort of recognition, any recognition, and wanted to build up that list as well. And it worked – like getting letters after your name from a bogus on-line university. I finally got noticed not by an agent, but by Network ISA as you mention later.

You say it is an incredible run, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I really can’t tell. Although I have a large number of wins / placings, for every one of those there are three competitions I failed to place in. Given the average number of scripts entered into a competition is around 600, perhaps a 25% success rate is something, I guess. With a machine gun in a crowd, you’re bound to hit some.

Also, as I said, grow a thick thin is a rule. There are several competitions I have entered that, given previous successes, I was a shoe-in for. Yet I never reached the first round. English. Subjective.

Q: Have the competitions themselves given you options/sales etc?

Nothing. Just USD 700 in cash, a few trophies, a few certificates, and many e-mailed jpgs saying ‘Winner’.

Q: I believe the volume and consistency of the competition successes brought you to the attention of the development team at Network ISA, how did that play out?

There are several websites out there that promote the concept that agents / managers / producers regularly scour them looking for the Next Best Thing, but there are rare successes. Interestingly, more than one website lay claim that Snow White And The Huntsman, which sold for over USD 3m due to a new overly-ambitious studio head at the time, was because the script was on their website. It was on many websites. Be wary of that.

Unless it’s a micro-budget, do not expect any interest. Obviously there are many, many exceptions, but just prepare yourself for a lack of interest. As I said, a thick-skin is one of the rulers. Chip, chip, chip away. Do not expect Thor’s Hammer with one mighty blow, no matter how good you think your script is.

On Network ISA however, instead of being just a dating site / data dump / hosting site like Blacklist and most others, they have a spot-the-potential (‘Development’) team headed by Max Timm that search through what is registered on their database, search through the post-your-success page, spot the potentials and then pro-actively engage to make the script and log-line better and then send it out to their contacts.

Now a lot of their post-your-success page is “I reached the quarter-final of something you might have heard of!” Well whoopee-do. I hate to say it, but nobody cares. Luckily, because of my costly scatter-gun approach, the number of wins and official selections became very high and as a result I became noticed by the Development Team. The investment in insignificant competitions worked – at least for me. Like everything in commerce, the success of a product is a mixture of how inherently good it is and the marketing campaign. I can only comment on my own approach.

Q: What have they done for you so far?

A: Max sent the script to a Hollywood studio, and after several months, it is now optioned for a mid-six figure amount.

Max has also helped on loglines for the other projects, and introduced me to an agent who, free of charge, helped out with the negotiations for the option as noted above. Wow.

I still don’t have an agent of manager, despite the success, so my only message to the audience is not to expect to get one.

Q: I understand it’s an invitation only scheme the ISA run, any tips for getting the invite?

A: Simply do enough to get noticed. Network ISA is a “tell us what you’ve achieved in competitions” database as opposed to the other more simplified “Here’s my screenplay and my log-line” dating databases that freckle and infest the internet. It turned out that my approach to competitions and their looking for potential was a perfect storm. It won’t work for everyone, it just happened to work for me.

Q: You are a ‘mature’ screenwriter and have come to the industry relatively late, do you think that helped or hindered?

A: Age only seems significant if one is a female actor. There are many reasons screenwriters rarely appear in front of the camera. Age is just one of them. I, for example, have the perfect face for radio.

Q: One of your recent, multi-award winning, screenplays has been optioned by Hollywood for a significant fee, what can you tell us about the screenplay?

A: Right now, female-led scripts are at the fore. They are looking to make The Expendabelles as a parallel to The Expendables, as an example.

There was a project for this true story about 15 years ago, but that script parachuted in a male, US lead to make it commercial, but luckily that plane never took off. Hearing about this aborted take-off of the actual facts, is what spurred me to write my own commercial version with as little distortion from the truth as possible. These women earned that. Here’s the log-line:

“With wood and canvas biplanes, no radio, no lights, no defenses and no parachutes, just bombs, these WW2 Soviet pilots terrorized the German front line night after night. They just happened to be women. A true story.”

To be honest, because I tried to deviate from the truth as little as possible, I feel more like an editor rather than a screenwriter. There was so much I needed to embellish, so much heroism I needed to cut, in order to get the big picture (pun intended) across to make it cinematic and therefore share the diluted truth with the maximum audience. I just hope I did them justice in the long run and that the equation worked.

Q: You’ve written a number of screenplays, what do you think set this one apart?

A: A multi-women action lead, where the women are not defined by how men perceive them? Priceless. It’s time is now. Prior to that…well you had Ripley solo in the Alien franchise, a few women in horror sequels, but that was pretty much it. The emphasis on ‘pretty’.

Q: And how did the option come about?

As mentioned, the Development team at Network ISA noticed the continuing successes of the WW2 story, as well as my other projects, and got in touch.

Q: Did you need or use an agent to negotiate?

Initially I used a lawyer in the UK, but he turned out to be as helpful as a one-armed wallpaper hanger. Luckily Max Timm introduced me to an agent friend of his who gave great advice at no cost re negotiations, which ultimately I handled myself. As a seasoned CFO making all sorts of third-party agreements, I hope I manged to avoid most of the traps.

Q: What’s the current status of the project?

A: Early days. No financing, directors nor cast in place yet. As to how many options are turned into films I have no idea. Watch this space.

Q: What have you learnt through the process?

A: Count to 10. Then learn how to count to 1,000.

Q: Any interest in your other projects as a result of your first option?

A: As you may have noticed, the title of the option has not been publicized anywhere, not even in this interview. No doubt it’s easily discoverable with Google, but the production company does not want it as yet actively advertised.

Somewhat frustrating both for me personally and Network ISA’s Development Team, but it does mean there is yet to be a cascade of dominos.

Q: Have you used, and if so what are your thoughts on notes and coverage services?

A: I have only used them as part of a competition – never in its own right. Perhaps that approach is a mistake in hindsight. Overall though, I would say costly, an investment, but invaluable. Many sites seem to have feedback generated by a computer. “Where’s the character arc for person #3? According to Save The Cat (“STC”) this plot point should be a page earlier”. Ack. Many really take the time and invest in your project. Many churn it out unthinkingly. It truly depends on the particular judge you get on the particular website. Despite any advertising by websites, it is a throw of the die.

I hate STC (Google “Save The Cat”). It should have been killed 4.5 times according to Schrödinger. One should write by wrote, not rote. Personally, I would have bombed the f***er and left no doubt.

Q: And do you use these if available in the competitions you enter?

Not now, but I have come to the end of my competition entries. See above.

Q: Do you have a favorite genre?

No, but I have ‘unfavorite’ ones. I will never do a straight relationship kitchen-sink drama for example. Nor I will not entertain a screenplay that deals with a person’s spiral into decay. If I want disappointment and anxiety in my life, I’ll use my memory. Some use screenwriting as a cathartic experience, I use it to fly with possibilities from a lighter platform.

I will only do screenplays where there are multiple beats where the audience gets warm / fuzzy / I should have seen that coming, dammit / LOL moments. In other words, entertainment as opposed to a journey. Commercial? Perhaps, but that’s me. Every writer has their own personal landscape the audience doesn’t see. That just happens to be mine.

Q: How do you approach structure in your scripts? Do you follow any particular method?

A: For me, and only me, let it mull / ferment / mature for a month. Patience. Write down the clever phrases, the beats, the pay-offs (along with earlier moments leading to it), the profound, anything that comes to mind or in the middle of the night.

*Only* then start to write it. Copy / paste in your ideas above wherever they fit into the script.

What you end up with is a movie through your own eyes. Almost certainly not commercially viable – audience of one. If you want your project to be shared, ie. viewed by others, you now need to take a long time, step back, and re-write it from the perspective of the audience. This I think is the hardest part of the writing process. Try your best to turn it from subjective to objective. Much of “self” needs to be discarded.

STC is pretty much the rule book for screenwriting for the machine-industry and, for me, is the most insidious thing ever written. Most people in the industry, overwhelmed by wannabees like me (screenwriting is easy!), simply use this as a rule book almost like a spam filter rather than seeing the underlying structure and story.

The scripts that stand out are the ones that do not follow the STC formula, yet to break into the industry you must be seen as a relatively risk-free investment – in other words you followed STC. Quite exasperating.

Q: What’s your favourite film? And script, if they’re different.

A: Film? Script? Luckily the same answer. Once Upon A Time In America. Not the butchered cinematic version that cut an hour, but the full version now available everywhere.

To make gangsters sympathetic characters is one of the greatest achievements in screenwriting and it is no surprise there were more than seven people involved in the screenplay.

The direction, the art direction, the cinematography, the acting and the music – rarely has it come together so well. The fact that the screenplay cuts back and forth between different decades without insulting the audience is an extra boon.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting advice you’ve been given?

The worst? “Write for yourself” – you’ll have an audience of one. The best? Patience, think of the audience, and never think a screenplay is finished.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters on SimplyScripts?

A: To anyone, persevere. Expect blocked walls. Try to step back from your first draft. Get, welcome, and respond to feedback.

Q: Any advice for writers who think they have the next $500 million hit script if they could just get an agent/make a connection?

A: Think again, you arrogant self-absorbed fool.

Q: What projects are you working on now and when can next expect to see your name on the credits?

A: Nothing as of now.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?

A: There is no right answer, no correct path. All I have done is to explain the footsteps *I* took. I only have experience to give you with only a little wisdom. I doubt anyone can give general wisdom in this field.

– Steve (Editor’s note: we’d add “love and kisses” Steve. But we figure we’ll leave that up to him!) 🙂

About reviewer Anthony Cawood: 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.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Screenwriters Lecture Series - post author Don

Thanks Rebecca for the heads up on the Screenwriters Lecture Series from BAFTA Guru – Inspiring Minds in Film, TV and Games.

Lectures from notable writers such as William Nicholson, Charlie Kaufman and John Logan.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 8 - post author Anthony Cawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 8: Scriptwriting Software

If you ask a bunch of screenwriters what software they use, you’ll get a cacophony of different views. Each one strident and strong. No matter the software, they’ll claim it’s the best. It’s industry standard, they say. You’d be mad not to use it. It’s the tool that makes writing… easy!

Needless to say, an article that examines the main contenders would be great. So here is my offering and personal experience – with opinions thrown in for good measure.

** Note – as I always do – it’s best to travel to the official websites of each: look at key features, current prices, file formats, supported Operating Systems and other details. Research is a very good thing. Especially where software is concerned.

First up, we have:

Final Draft

Price – $250

Demo – 30 Day Free trial available

Mac/PC – Both

Mobile/Device – Available for iPad and iPhone

Pro Advocates – Darren Aronofsky, J.J. Abrams, Robert Zemeckis

Final Draft considers itself the industry standard. In fact, it’s used by scores of professional screenwriters – but not all of them.

It’s feature rich to say the least. Anything FD doesn’t include probably isn’t needed.

It has over 100 script templates, integrates index cards well and even has a feature that reads the script out aloud – with different character voices!

FD’s also very customizable, with reports coming out of its ears. Plus, it imports and exports in a plethora of file types and formats.

One of the other good features – IMO – is the ability to save to Dropbox. That’s great if you use multiple devices, as it ensures you’re always working on the most up to date version of your masterpiece.

Yes, Final Draft does pretty much everything. It even has iPhone/iPad versions, currently on sale for $14.99.  (Note: mobile versions sync scripts with Dropbox. Scripts can also be stored locally, emailed, printed etc.)

The only real downsides to Final Draft? Well, the price – though it’s often discounted – and the relatively slow development timetable for enhancements.

You could always just buy the iPad version and play with that if the price tag puts you off!

Website: http://www.finaldraft.com/

Movie Magic

Price – $170 (current sale price)

Demo – 5 Day full demo available

Mac/PC – Both

Mobile/Device – Not currently

Pro Advocates – Paul Haggis, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, Evan Katz

Another high cost option that purports to be the industry standard. MM has a bunch of pro-screenwriter endorsements and it’s apparently the preferred format of WGA West.

From a features perspective, Movie Magic has much of the same as FD: including Text to Speech, a ton of templates and online collaboration features. And – this software has extensive (and free) support and a couple of features not found in FD.

It does, however, feel a little old these days – an overhaul seems overdue. And the inclusion of other popular hardware devices would be nice.

Downsides: price and lack of a mobile app (though their website says that’s in consideration).

Website: http://www.screenplay.com/p-29-movie-magic-screenwriter-6.aspx

Celtx

Price – Basic – Free

             Standard – $9.99 per month

            Plus – $19.99 per month

Mac/PC – Online application – yes to both.

Demo – Standard & Plus have 15 day free trials

Mobile/Device – Yes

Pro Advocates – Kirk Suttles – Head of Production at Lifechurch.tv

Celtx used to have a desktop version, but they’ve gone completely online of late (if you have the desktop version, it isn’t supported anymore). But if you just want a basic online screenwriting product, then the free edition is perfectly fine. Many people happily use Celtx for spec scripts.

The Standard version comes with more production type features, such as Shot Blocking, Scheduling, Budgeting, etc. The Plus version has even more features, including Live Chat support. They have a big focus on collaboration and team working as well – that’s not just a FD/MM thing!

Website: http://www.celtx.com/

Fade In

Price – $50

Demo – Yes

Mobile/Device – Yes (including Android)

Pro Advocates – Craig Mazin

Though a newer entrant to the market, Fade In is feature rich for the price and has some unique advantages (like Android support, a Linux version, EPUB exports etc) that make it a definite contender. It also has Dropbox support, so you can switch between desktop versions and mobile devices easily.

Fade In also also seems to have a really responsive developer, Kent Tessman – who happens to be a screenwriter too*. Additional features are added quickly and frequently, something that Final Draft and Movie Magic have been criticized for (frequently) in the past.

*Check out Kent’s great script, Chrome Noir on the Black List Table Reads podcast. It’s well worth a listen!

Downsides: I think it has fewer features in total than FD or MM, but I’m not sure they’d be missed!

If you are new to screenwriting and want a solid desktop based program, then I think Fade In is worth the look.

Websitehttp://www.fadeinpro.com

Storyist

Price – $59

Mac/PC – Mac only

Demo – Yes

Mobile/Device – Yes

Pro Advocates – Michael Brandman, New York Times Bestselling Author

This one is Mac only (including iPad/iPhone). I haven’t had chance to look at it, but to be thorough, I thought it fair to list it anyway.

Geared for novelists as well as screenwriters, this one is a word processor with built in screenwriting functionality. It has outlining functionality, as well. You can add images and things like that to a story, just to give it more color in your mind. You can also create ePub and Kindle books via this software.

In certain ways, Storyist seems to be more of a writer’s tool. But if you are a Mac fiction writer who dabbles in screenwriting as well, it might be what you’re looking for!

Website: http://storyist.com

WriterDuet

Price – Free version (restricted features)

            $7.99 per month (or $99 Lifetime fee)

Mac/PC – Online application (so yes to both).

Demo – Has free version

Mobile/Device – Yes

Pro Advocates – Ed Solomon, Andy Nyman

I believe this is the newest in the collection. Like Celtx, the developers have chosen an online route. But they recently added a desktop version, providing good cross platform support. WriterDuet also incorporates cloud saving to ensure you are always using the most up to date version of your script.

One of the key features of the software is real time collaboration. You can work on scripts with a writing partner in real time – no back and forwards, or issues with version control.

One of the other good things is that the developer – Guy Goldstein – is very accessible and currently has an AMA going on Reddit (screenwriting). So he’s pretty active in general.

No, WriterDuet doesn’t have the production level features of some of its more established competitors. But to perfectly honest: if you’re an aspiring writer engaged primarily with spec scripts… do you need colored revision pages and page locking to get by?

Website: http://writerduet.com/

So here you go. Check out the websites yourself. Try the free versions and find out what you like!

Admittedly, this article isn’t an exclusive list, but it discusses the main tools in use. Apologies if I’ve missed your favourite, but feel free to post in the Comments box!

My personal view? That if you’re just starting out and have a limited budget, then WriterDuet is a good choice. If you are looking for something with a little more and you have the bucks to spend, then Fade In’s the option I recommend. Then: if you want whistles and bells, the kitchen sink and don’t mind paying a hefty price, then Final Draft’s in your sights.

In the interest of full disclosure… I currently use Final Draft on PC and my iPad. But I’ve also written scripts with Celtx, WriterDuet and Fade In. So I’m agnostic with my software! UPDATE: I’ve changed what I use to Fade In on PC and iPad, loving it.

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.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Skripteez – Project Showcase - post author Don

Here is something I ran across. I haven’t had a chance to play around with it, yet. May be a useful tool.

Skripteez is a simple platform for screenwriters and filmmakers to showcase projects. Whether you have a finished project or just an idea, Skripteez wants to provide an easy way for you to express yourself and share your work.

– Don

Monday, July 20, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 7a - post author Anthony Cawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 7a: Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to pick up a ton of useful information on screenwriting, scripts and the market for them. Not to mention a terrific tool for filling dead time: driving, commuting and the like. At their best, Podcasts are informative, funny, provocative and quickly become part of your ‘must do’ schedule.

So – without further ado – here are my favorites. In no particular order…except for the first one!

Scriptnotes:

John August (Big Fish, Frankenweenie etc) and Craig Mazin (Hangover 2 & 3 etc) are the real deal. Working Hollywood screenwriters who write for a living… and who pay it forward by putting out a weekly podcast to share their knowledge, opinions and wisdom. Their insights are quite useful, based on their working knowledge and experience of the industry . And they don’t shy away from difficult subjects. There’s now over 200 episodes, so get downloading!

Note: John and Craig are chalk and cheese from a personality point of view, but this dynamic is one of the many things that makes the weekly episodes an absolute highlight of my week.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/scriptnotes-podcast/id462495496?mt=2

On the Page:

Pilar Alessandra is a professional script consultant in Hollywood. Her weekly show is based around a succession of guests: almost all of whom are screenwriters, but occasionally show runners and producers are added to the mix. The interviews are wide ranging, funny and informative. Pillar definitely knows her stuff and is a real livewire on the show.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/on-the-page-screenwriting/id262077408?mt=2

BAFTA Screenwriters Lecture Series: 

These podcasts consist of records of lectures given by a variety of screenwriters at BAFTA/BFI events. They’re not regular, and tend to come out in a bunch once a year. Currently available are podcasts with Emma Thompson, Richard Curtis, Tony Gilroy, and Charlie Kaufman to name but a few (there’s approx 25 in total).

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/screenwriters-lecture-series/id524739237?mt=2

Curious About Screenwriting Network:

A great service provided by Network ISA. They have regular Tele Seminars with screenwriters, script consultants etc, which are recorded and released as podcasts. Currently there are over 50 that have been made available, and include guests such as John Truby, Robert McKee and David Trottier, and covering subjects like Rewriting (with Pilar Alessandra), Winning the Big Contests and Pitching.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/curious-about-screenwriting/id975005439?mt=2

Selling Your Screenplay:

“Starring” Ashley Scott Meyers, who is an aspiring screenwriter with a couple of sales and produced films to date. His podcast interviews other writers and focuses on how they broke in, how they got their films made and what tips and tricks they can share with fellow writers. Ashley is a genre writer with no airs and graces about his own work. It’s a refreshing attitude and the insights from his guests are great, as they focus on selling your screenplay. (Which is information that all of us writers can use!)

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/selling-your-screenplay-podcast/id691691124?mt=2

Third & Fairfax, The WGA Podcast:

This is a new podcast from the WGA West. Only a couple of episodes so far. It deals with WGA news, has writer and staff interviews and is pretty informative for both WGA members and non-members.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/3rd-fairfax-the-wgaw-podcast/id1001323963?mt=2

The Black List Table Reads:

This one is a little different… As Franklin Leonard puts it… ‘it’s movies for your ears’. In essence, this podcast takes well written scripts from the Blacklist and have professional actors voice them in a table read type setting. They work extremely well. The scripts they’ve done so far have been excellent and varied.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/black-list-table-reads/id982082891?mt=2

The UK Script Writers Podcast:

Tim Claque and Danny Stack are working UK writers who provide insights on the UK scene and interview UK based writers, producers and more. Informative and funny for us Brits, there’s almost 50 episodes so far.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/uk-scriptwriters/id384710944?mt=2

As to how to access these resources? Use whatever Podcast app you have on your IOS or Android device, and remember to subscribe so that you get the new episodes as soon as released.

Which is not to say the list ends here. On the contrary – it’s just beginning. There are a bunch of other podcasts that I subscribe to, and find useful to my writing. The best podcasts spark ideas around subjects I like, and act as inspiration generators. My personal ones are Lore, Ted Talks, Mysterious Universe, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews and Paranormal Report. In their own ways, each of these have provided info and snippets that have acted as the genesis for short or feature ideas. Mind you, these are my favorites – catering to my particular interests – so have a look round yourself. See what podcasts exist for your interests and fave genres. Because you never know where inspiration will strike next!

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.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mark’s submitting to Film Festivals guide – repost from SimplyScripts.net - post author Don

Mark Renshaw has put together a guide based on his personal experiences in script and movie festivals.

Please also follow the discussion on this as well as other articles written by Anthony Cawood and P.J. McNeill.

Mark writes…

The below ‘guide’ is based on my own personal experience submitting scripts and short movies to festivals over the past 12 months. Take from it what you will.

You’ve created a masterpiece. Maybe it is a script Tarantino would go medieval on your ass to own, or maybe you’ve managed to get a script produced into an ass-kicking-awesome movie. You’ve written your Oscar speech and hired your mom to be your Manager. What now?

Well, you could enter a film festival to show the world (especially JJ Abrams) what you are capable of. What are your options?

There are over 3000 film festivals worldwide. That number is growing exponentially; a bit like my stomach as I eat those bags of chocolate that are ‘big enough to share’ but I ain’t sharing pal! The point is, there are so many it’s impossible to track. Luckily there are websites which specialise in this area.

Festival Submission Websites

The two main contenders are Withoutabox and FilmFreeway. Both list thousands of festivals, provide various tools to help you create your projects, upload materials and browse/submit to the festivals.

Withoutabox has been going since the dawn of time (2000), you can tell by their archaic design. In 2008 they were bought out by IMDB. So the good news here is you get an IMDB title page/credit for every eligible submission. The bad news; the website is user unfriendly, they’ve been slow to keep up with changes in technology and there have been complaints about overcharging. Personally I don’t like them. I’ve had submissions go missing and others where the status has not updated, so I’ve had to contact the organisers direct to sort things out.

Filmfreeway is the new kid on the block. It doesn’t have as many festivals available as Withoutabox but the list is growing all the time. It’s more modern looking and is constantly adding new functionality in response to feedback. Personally I prefer it. I’ve had a good user experience so far. I wouldn’t be surprised though if Withoutabox buys them out once they’ve reached a certain size.

How much will submissions cost?

Withoutabox and Filmfreeway are free to join, free to use but the entry fee for each festival varies and is based on a tiered system. The key here is to get in early. Some festivals start accepting over a year in advance and most offer an early bird discount. If it’s a Seasame Street festival I’m sure they’ll offer a Big Bird discount, but I digress…again. From this point on the prices rise steadily through a tiered range as time goes by.

To save some cash it is also worth following some festivals on social media, as they do randomly throw out discount promo codes.

Some festivals are free! If you use the advanced search options, you can set the price filter to $0 . Be careful though, some of these are only free under special circumstances, like if you are a student or a wizard with a lisp or something.

Which Festivals should I enter?

This is where you are going to have to do your research. Festivals will gladly accept any script or movie you submit. They’ll gleefully accept your money, while dribbling saliva down their chins like rabies infected baboons. However, as soon as they start trawling through the thousands of submissions, they will reject yours faster than a fast thing that’s been fast for a very long time, if it doesn’t meet their criteria.

Let me put it this way, it’s no use submitting a script about a blind albino transgender Jew in war- torn Nazi Germany, who has a secret love affair with Hitler’s briefcase, to a sci-fi festival is it? And yet you will be surprised how many people pick festivals at random.

It’s not just the genre. Some festivals focus on a certain theme, others specialise in supporting a cause or championing a specific gender. I saw one which specifically said in the small print they only accepted submissions where you could prove it was a collaborative project involving people from different countries. Yet, the rest of the promotional material did not state this rule.

The other aspect to consider, what are the prizes? If you just want to promote your work, get some awards, any festival will do. There’s nothing like bragging rights, right? However if you want a way into the industry, if you are looking to get an agent, win a professional table read or if you want cash, then only certain key festivals offer such rewards. Be warned though, the competition for these is fierce!

So before parting with your hard earned cash:

  • Read ALL the rules and criteria for the festival. It’s easy to get caught out by a stipulation.
  • Research the festival! The promotional page makes it look super professional and slick but go to their actual website and it may look like something a demented child has hacked together with a hammer and a jar of marmite. Do you really trust your work and money to a festival that can’t even put together a decent website?
  • Review some of the previous qualifying/winning entries. If last year’s winning entry was a black and white silent film showing a slug’s life over 24 hours, should you submit that romantic comedy?

What are my chances?

Here is the mule kicker. Entering and paying a fee doesn’t get you into the festival. It’s gets you a consideration; that’s it. You can pay a small fortune and simply end up with a load of rejections with no explanation as to why.

What festivals will never, ever do, is inform you of your chances of being accepted. The promotional material makes it all sound glamorous, exciting and within your grasp. Just remember it is all marketing aimed at trying to generate as much money as possible.

Let me throw some figures at you – this is based on independent movie submissions only, I don’t have any actual figures for script submissions.

• Manchester (UK) International Film Festival – This is their first year. They’ve had over 1000 submissions with only 20 slots available.

• Palm Springs (LA) Film Festival – Over 3400 submissions.

• Sundance – 200 slots available – woo hoo! Over 9000 submissions – WTF?

With so many entries, it’s hard to fathom how they could possible review each one and give each their full attention. From the stories I’ve heard some festivals don’t. Mere mortals like us have no idea which festivals review each entry fairly and which just take your money and run.

So unless your work has the backing of a big player, a recognised actor or a major Indy studio is involved who could promote your work, it’s worth considering:

Online festivals – They have more slots compared to traditional venues and the festival can run over longer periods of time.

Smaller, specialised festivals – Sure they may not be as glamourous as Cannes but there are less submissions to contend with.

Feedback Festivals – Some festivals provide feedback! So even if they reject it, you’ll know they gave your submission the attention it deserves and you will know why you got rejected. Please note, some festivals charge a hefty extra fee for feedback but some provide this service as standard.

New Festivals – These are trying to establish themselves, they’ll be wanting to make a good impression in their first year, get as many submissions as possible and therefore the rules for acceptance may be less strict.

Super Secret Tip!

If you’ve read this far, well done! You win a straw donkey! Plus, I’ll let you in on something I’ve only recently discovered. The GOOD festivals actually want you to engage with them direct!

Shocking I know. It’s easy to leave the communication between the third-parties like FilmFreeway, I did for a long time and ended up with a lot of rejections. I’ve come to realise that once you’ve submitted your project, the best thing you can do is get hold of the festival’s email address, tell them a bit about yourself, tell them about the project you’ve entered and even tell them how it’s doing/done in other festivals.
I’ve only used this method for the past few weeks and already I’m receiving great engagement from the festivals via email and on social media. Will this increase my chances? Who knows? Time will tell but it can’t hurt to try.

If you have any personal experiences to share please do so.

Best of luck, unless you are entering the same festivals as me! If you do, may your submission supernaturally explode and I win by default.

-Mark

Follow the discussion on the discussion board.

Friday, May 8, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 6 - post author Anthony Cawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 6: Options, Sales and Production

A few people have asked me recently how I manage to sell and option so many short scripts.

My response? I usually laugh, and get embarrassed (what can I say – I’m a Brit!) Anything to move the subject along.

Others have shared their experiences of optioning/selling scripts, and their frustrations regarding what happens next. Or as is often the case – what fails to happen next.

As a result, I thought it would be useful to take a look at both sides of the coin, and share my personal experiences. Note: In this article, I’ve strived to be as ‘full disclosure’ as possible without discussing individual deals. And please keep in mind, this all relates to my experience only. Your mileage may vary.

Sales and Options

According to my calculations, I’ve written 30 short scripts over the space of just shy of 2 years.

19 of them are currently sold, or under option. I say ‘currently’ because I’ve got an additional 6 shorts where the options have technically lapsed. So you could argue the number’s 25.

I’ve also written three scripts specifically at someone’s request. Only one of those has actually made it to fruition. In the other two cases, the “commissioner” of the script proved unable to move the project forward, leaving me with the unproduced work. One of those has since sold to a different producer.

Let me clarify what I mean when I use the terms Sales or Options. Trust me, I have my reasons.

Sale: Someone buys the script outright for money. And a contract exists to formalize that.

Option: Someone agrees to try and pull the resources together to make the script within an agreed-upon window – normally 6-12 months – with agreed payment to follow.

A further note regarding options: these are usually offered by newer producers or directors (sometimes students) who don’t initially have funds available… or just want to ensure they can get the project off the ground before sinking capital into it. Any agreed payment for such deals is often only a percentage of the profits the short may make, rather than a defined monetary amount. This type of deal is often called a Free Option.

Sales have $$ paid up front. A couple include bonus $$ upon start of production, things of that nature. Note: Whenever I can, I make a point to obtain a percentage of the profits on the backend as well. Shorts usually make no profit at all. But I want to be included in case it goes viral, or blows up some way!

When talking with a Producer or Director, I ask if they have a budget for purchasing the script, then go from there. Why? Because I strongly believe a writer’s work has value. We spend time, effort and emotional energy on every script we create. So we deserve to be compensated when it’s possible.

Contract and agreements, I tend to play by ear. Some people will disagree with this strategy – and I do wish to stress I only do this for shorts.

When payment is involved, there’s usually a contract. I don’t use a lawyer or agent – just my common sense. Knock on wood… it’s worked. So far!

With options, I email an outline of my terms to the producer, and make sure all parties are in agreement on the terms.

A quick note when it comes to both types of agreements (both email and signed): don’t be scared to ask for anything you consider right and fair. And never be afraid to say no, if you’re not comfortable with a deal.

As to what contracts contain: that’s always different! Usually, they’re drafted by the Producer/Buyer. On a couple of occasions, I’ve been asked to supply them. In those circumstances, I just retrofit one I’ve already got. If you don’t have one on hand, Googling for templates also works.

For me, the essential elements are these:

  • What rights are you granting to the producer? e.g. Sole and exclusive, region specific or worldwide?
  • What does it extend to? e.g.: is it just this script, or does it grant rights over sequels, remakes, etc (you should definitely try to keep these rights.)
  • Make sure the contract specifies how long it’s for.
  • Make certain payment terms and amounts are included – plus timings and delivery mechanisms (Paypal is one great method– though they do take a cut.)
  • If in doubt about a clause, seek clarity before you sign.
  • Very, very important note: if and when I get to this stage with a Feature script, I’ll be seeking professional legal advice.

Pre-production Frustration

I recently shot the short “Txt M” from my own script – precisely due to frustration with how long it can take films to get made!

So for those who’ve sold/optioned scripts and now wait in limbo. Please believe: I feel your pain

But in the end, there’s very little you can do. Producers and Directors are not doing it to you on purpose (as much as it may seem that way!). No, there’s a whole host of reasons it can take awhile before an optioned script goes into production.

  • They have a window – which just so happens to be 6 months away.
  • Their plans change. Many short film-makers have other jobs. Your short is just their passion project, which can only be done on their off time.
  • Resources and/or finances change. Or disappear.
  • They flat-out change their mind.

Of course, none of those reasons make the process any less frustrating… however how valid they may be. My advice. Patience is a virtue. Practice it. Often and wisely.

As a side note: it’s often interesting to see how willing or unwilling the film maker is to involve you in the process. In my experience, I’ve had audition tapes sent to me for my review. Rewritten scenes as required. Advised on prop selections, etc. Even if the producer prefers you take a ‘hands off’ approach, there’s no harm in letting them know you are keen to work with them, if desired, so as to better understand the process.

Post-production

But once a script is finally produced, everything comes up roses.

Right?

Well kinda. But not really. Among other things, one learns about (drum roll)…

Post-production.

Post-production is where a lot of the magic happens. Film editing. Sound effects. Colour adjustments. Music, titles, credits. And more.

Needless to say, that can take awhile. So you’ll need to practice your patience again.

Please don’t interpret any of this as a complaint. If I didn’t think it was all worth it, I wouldn’t have written 30 shorts and 2 features. I’d have found something to do with more instant gratification.

But it’s good for writers to be aware of the potential bumps in the road. Factor them into your expectations.

Thank God – The Damned Thing’s Filmed!

Yes, that day has finally come. You’ve been sent a Vimeo link, or a DVD of your film. Now you can relax and soak in compliments from your jealous friends.

Right?

Well. Sorta. But then you watch the film – and your over-critical ID chimes in.

Because, unless you directed and edited the final movie, it’s very, VERY likely it won’t be exactly the same as what you envisioned in your mind’s eye.

Reasons for changes are unending. Budgetary concerns. Dialogue can be altered. Casting may not be your taste.

And make no mistake – there’s nothing you can do about it… unless you morph into a director, and insist on making scripts your way.

So focus on the positives!

  • You conceived a great idea – and it got filmed.
  • You had the creative skill to distill your ideas into a successful script.
  • You had the gumption and fortitude to get that script into the hands of a real film maker, who thought highly enough of it to invest time, effort and money to make it a reality.

As a result, you’re now watching something that has your name in the credits. You’re a produced screenwriter, which is no small achievement. No matter how arduous the journey was.

As for my own stuff? Well, I keep plugging away, and will broach every opportunity to push and promote my scripts. But there’s no magic involved. It’s just an established plan that’s worked for me. So far:

  • Have a decent idea. Follow it up with a decent script.
  • Get feedback to make sure that script is as good as it can be. I mostly use Simplyscripts and Stage 32. Both are invaluable to me!
  • Get your script listed everywhere (I’ve discussed go-to links in my previous articles.) But for the record, Simplyscripts and Inktips have given me the majority of my success.
  • Refresh your listings. Change your loglines. Always keep working on the scripts.
  • If someone requests to see one of your works, make sure you use it as an opportunity to build relationships. They may not ultimately want the script they ask for. But they may like your writing, and choose something else you have. Or ask you to write something for them.
  • Always, always – persevere.

And the result? Out of my 19 scripts, 3 have been produced and are watchable (links available on my site.) 2 are in post production (I’m hoping to see them in the next 2-3 months.) 8 are slated to start production six months from now. The rest, further out than that.   And I have a feeling that as least another 2-3 will end up as lapsed options. Sad as that may be…

And speaking of future predictions: I’ve started to concentrate on Feature scripts. Which means going through all the pain, agony and frustration all over again. But in new and interesting ways.

I’ll keep STS posted. Perversely, I’m looking forward to it!

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.

Friday, April 24, 2015

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

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.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Android Night Punch – With Commentary!!! - post author Don

In November, I talked about Chris Salom’s film Android Night Punch. A lot of folks had various questions of Chris on how he and his team pulled off writing and filming the movie in three days. Now, your questions can be answered with Android Night Punch With Commentary!!! by Writer/Director Chris Shalom, Producer J.S. Johnson, and actors Simone Swan and Kieran McGreal.

Talk about it on the Discussion Board

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