Check out these screenwriting contests and don't forget to subscribe to the Script Angel blog to receive regular updates to this list:
Writers' Couch (Cascade Pictures) - Deadline: ongoing - Screenplay 80-140pp. UK residents and unrepresented writers only.
Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition - Deadline: 9 October 2013 (late) / 7 November 2013 (final)
Cinequest Screenwriting Competition - Deadline: 14 October 2013 (late) / 11 November 2013 (WAB Extended).
[Great summary of Screenwriting Contests, with deadlines & links]
I use this blog primarily as an extension of my business card. Sharing in a kinda snarky, somewhat entertaining, pseudo intellectual way, what’s going on with my writing. And my love of bewbs, because they are soft and awesome and I’m all about things that are awesome.
But today, it serves a therapeutic purpose. I need to vent.
And the topic of said venting is the ‘rules’ of screenwriting. The subject of endless debate among (primarily amateur) screenwriters.
I say primarily because I do see some gurus, consultants, mentors and of course, any dude who — took a writing class — went to a McKee seminar — skimmed a screenwriting book at Borders (that was a thing once, like rolling up your pants leg & dueling with pistols) — having some specific rule or another about what you can and cannot do in a screenplay.
What are some of the rules, you ask? Hmm, off the top of my head…
NEVER Bold. Underline. Italicize. Use ellipses… more than one hyphen – -
Only write what you can see.
Only use day/night for time.
Don’t put action in character parens.
(What are you doing using character parens anyway?)
IT DRIVES ME F*CKING NUTS!!!
Recently, I’ve seen the debate carried on in a private online screenwriting group I belong to, that I’ll just call Write Club, since I can’t talk about it. It started with a nice, simple question. “I’ve seen more and more scripts bolding their sluglines, is that something you do?”. Holy shit, you’d think someone had asked if it’s okay to put babies on spikes, or worse, opined on Obamacare. The rule mongers came out in force, swarming the thread like… stuff that swarms. Sorry, I can’t think straight, a rage stroke has affected my parietal lobe.
I had to unfollow the post, sip a nice saucer of warm milk, and put on Ru Paul’s Drag Race to calm my nerves… don’t judge me.
Let me tell you something. Go pick up any professional script and you’ll see every one one of these and other rules broken. Oh, but you say, that’s only for the pros. Once you break in, you can do what you want. Until then, follow the rules! Always. Without exception. Or die.
Name one successful artist who said, I got to where I am today by following the rules. Can you? What, Emily Post? Fine, you got me.
Listen, of course it’s important to understand the rules. But I only consider them using the wisdom of the great sage Morpheus.
“There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
Do you understand that? You do, great. Can you explain it to me? I got totally confused by the third Matrix movie.
Anyway, back to rules. Okay, so you like rules. Or maybe you need boundaries, because your parents had the bowling alley put up those bumpers so your ball didn’t go in the gutter. Whatever. I’ve got you covered.
Here are the three rules I follow, and they’re pretty simple. Ready?
The first two, obvious. Make sure the reader understands the story you’re trying to tell. And do it in an interesting way.
The third one, that’s the only real ‘rule’. There are industry standard templates for screenwriting, with very specific margin settings and font/size. So that when anyone picks up a script, they know about one page equals one minute of footage. It’s like that Unbreakable Vow between Snape and Malfoy’s mom, or keeping quiet about what happens in the champagne room. You just don’t do it. Or you die.
So, I’m done. Vent spewed.
Now, back to bewbs!
Let me just say, I’m a loser.
Dozens of ‘thanks for participating’ certificates and all the Revenge of the Nerds films confirm that.
I can also confirm, that while winning isn’t everything, winning is better.
Yesterday, the film I co-wrote as part of the 2013 Baltimore 48 Hour contest won for Best Film!
For those unfamiliar, the 48 Hour Film Project is an intense short film competition that takes place in cities worldwide – 120 and counting. You have just two days to write/film/edit an under-seven-minute movie. If that isn’t tough enough, it must be based upon a randomly selected genre, and include a required character, prop and line of dialogue — you know, to prove it wasn’t shot last winter (snow drifts in July, dead give away… unless you are green screen wizards, in which case, kudos for Best Special Effects.)
I’ve worked on eight or so 48 Hour Films, almost always on the writing team. Most have made the ‘Best Of’ for Baltimore or D.C., and received awards here and there. Stuff to be happy about, for sure.
How about a win though? Nope, wasn’t in the cards.
Now, I know, art is supposed to be it’s own reward. I get it. But I’m American. The duty to compete is in our Constitution or something. Christ, we host hot-dog eating contests when parts of the world are starving. Okay, that last statement makes me sad and hungry. And get’s me back to my original, conflicted thought.
Creative work, especially when unpaid, is an endeavor based upon belief in yourself. You can be proud of it, your colleagues can love it, friends, family, all that jazz… it’s great (and folks, please keep encouraging the artists in your life, unless they made Sharknado… what am I saying, I freakin’ loved Sharknado, more please…)
But ultimately, you want that hardware – you need that hardware (heard best in Jack Nicholson voice) – the big shiny trophy, that headline article, those Facebook Likes and of course, 140 character tweets to your awesomeness.
When someone googles the word ‘winner’, you want to be part of those 416 million hits, just like Jamie Foxx is, who’s song ‘Winner’ appears on the first search page, while ironically peaking at 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
What I’m saying, in my snarky way, is that winning… provides validation.
vali·dation n. To establish the soundness of; corroborate.
We all want that outside authority to say hey, you’re on the right path. Quitting your job, cashing out your life savings and risking homelessness to pursue your dreams… got you this, an 8×10 sheet of paper with the word ‘Winner’ on it. Congrats. You could have gone to Office Depot and printed one up, but here, I saved you the trip.
So to the Baltimore judges, I say, thanks for saving me the trip.
But I’d feel way more validated if you had put gold stars on the award. Just sayin’…
You can find more details about ‘Cordially Invited’ and watch the film in this post.
The film I co-wrote for the 2013 Baltimore competition won for Best Film last night. (Also, Best Actress and Graphics.)
Congrats to the entire cast and crew, they were amazing to work with. And I’m proud to call many of them my friends as well.