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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Contests - Screenwriting and Filmmaking  ›  The 2015 PAGE Awards Moderators: Don
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Dreamscale
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 4:59pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
10 points out of 100 for format seems about right to me.

A script is just a starting point to invite collaboration.

No literary mistakes will make the final product. There are no slugs in a film. There are no spelling mistakes, no awkward phrasing, no orphans...with the exception of characters such as Oliver Twist.

To dismiss a story just because it is less than professionally formatted would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

If the premise is stil enticing, if the story is still good DESPITE the mistakes..fantastic news. Imagine how good it will be once made into a film and all those mistakes are history?

This should not be read as an invitation to not put efort into format, but writers need also to keep it in perspective. Story trumps format when you are looking for something to film...and therefore will in many readers eyes as well.


Rick, but, here's my usual retort to this...

The way things are now, anyone who wants to 'write" a screenplay, can.  It's not like it used to be 25 years ago, or even 10 years ago.  Because of this, we have 100's of thousands of scripts being written each and every year.

I guess your presumption is that no matter what a script looks like, it's potentially an amazing new story that needs to be made into a film.  Kind of like, a never ending line of potential candidates for an open Vice President position at a local bank, where peeps of all ages show up in sweatpants, shorts, or barefoot and unshaven should be given an interview, cuz you never know, I guess.

I will always dissagree with this.

Your opening page is your calling card in a script.  It's going to show wether or not you know how to write a script, just like a professional resumegets you an opportunity for an interview - and if you get that opportunity, you better be dressed to impress, or you're automatcially out...no questions asked.

I just don't understand why anyone would read more than a few pages of a poorly written script, unless they're being paid to, and that actualkly raises a great question...

Is every single script that is entered in a competition being read in its entirety, no matter how poor or downright terrible the writing is?  If it's bad enough, the actual full read could take many hours to try and understand what's going on.  You get me?


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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EWall433
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 5:41pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin
It's very, very strange that the judges are anonymous unless you pay $80 for a read...


It’s certainly not as transparent as you’d want it be, but ‘strange’ as in, “unlike what I would expect to see”? Not for me. I think any contest that has over 6000 applicants is going to suffer from this. The ‘murk’ as you put it, is inherent in trying to find enough people to judge a MASSIVE amount of screenplays in a relatively small time frame. I wouldn’t put it down to malfeasance on PAGE’s part, I think it’s just really, really hard to run a competition of this magnitude and maintain absolute quality and consistency. I don’t think it’s a scam at all.

As far as first round reader anonymity, I could take it or leave it. I wouldn’t know what to make of most of those names anyway. But I think the writers who are hesitant are all basically saying the same thing, and that is we’d like a greater sense of accountability to ensure we aren’t just throwing our script into a black hole. If any contest could come up with a cheap and effective means of addressing that issue, it would only make them stronger. No one ever looked back at a messed up situation and said to themselves, “if only there’d been LESS accountability…”


Quoted from Dreamscale
Is every single script that is entered in a competition being read in its entirety, no matter how poor or downright terrible the writing is?  If it's bad enough, the actual full read could take many hours to try and understand what's going on.


I would hope so. If the writer shells out money that’s the least of the reader’s commitment. But I can’t imagine any reader who isn’t giving feedback would slow down long enough to make sense of it all. The reader’s time is a freight train, either your script jumps on or it gets dashed asunder.
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 6:40pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dreamscale


Rick, but, here's my usual retort to this...

The way things are now, anyone who wants to 'write" a screenplay, can.  It's not like it used to be 25 years ago, or even 10 years ago.  Because of this, we have 100's of thousands of scripts being written each and every year.

I guess your presumption is that no matter what a script looks like, it's potentially an amazing new story that needs to be made into a film.  Kind of like, a never ending line of potential candidates for an open Vice President position at a local bank, where peeps of all ages show up in sweatpants, shorts, or barefoot and unshaven should be given an interview, cuz you never know, I guess.

I will always dissagree with this.

Your opening page is your calling card in a script.  It's going to show wether or not you know how to write a script, just like a professional resumegets you an opportunity for an interview - and if you get that opportunity, you better be dressed to impress, or you're automatcially out...no questions asked.

I just don't understand why anyone would read more than a few pages of a poorly written script, unless they're being paid to, and that actualkly raises a great question...

Is every single script that is entered in a competition being read in its entirety, no matter how poor or downright terrible the writing is?  If it's bad enough, the actual full read could take many hours to try and understand what's going on.  You get me?



What more can I say?

The Page competition divides the script marking process into ten fields.

It's an arbitary, but reasonable system.

You would have scripts barred on grounds of one of them...format.

Fair enough. But you can just as easily argue they should be barred on all other 9 fields as well.

Non-marketable premise...bin.
Poor characters....bin
Generic...bin

etc etc etc

There would be no scripts left in the competiton.

The thing with competitons is that one script has to win. It might not even be any good. Every entry might be poor. There will still be a winner.

They are ,after all, amateur scripts. And as you yourself frequently say...even most pro scripts are crap.

You are right..your script is a calling card. The way you write is a calling card. So is the premise, so is your dialogue, so is every aspect of the writing. A perfectly formatted script can be as useless as a badly formatted one.

Very few competiton scripts get made into films. This isn't because the competitions are poor...it's because the vast majority of scrpts are not good enough, or not suitable for professional production.

I hope that doesn't offend anyone. It's just the nature of the beast.
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oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 7:05pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from EWall433
I would hope so. If the writer shells out money that�s the least of the reader�s commitment. But I can�t imagine any reader who isn�t giving feedback would slow down long enough to make sense of it all. The reader�s time is a freight train, either your script jumps on or it gets dashed asunder.


Am I right? I'm sure some are probably laughing to themselves right now... $39, $79, whatever - that's pretty cheap considering the endless fruits of possibility. Well hold on a sec.

I think it's a valid question to know whether an entry is required to be read in its entirety. Because even if there is an amazing gem of a story in there, if the writing is poor, there's potiental for the story to be lost in translation. On the flip side, I wouldn't want by work tossed in the bin if I paid to have a fair shot.

But you can't really expect a reader to sit there for hours trying to decode a single script that they know in their logical mind it will never see the finish line. We can preach subjectivity all day long, but there's also tangible objectivity in what we do. I'd imagine most of the scripts entered in any competition are discarded after the first 10 pages. Unless they paid for the feedback of course, which raises my question: if I pay extra, does my script stand a better chance of advancing?

Simple question - probably a complicated answer.

Quite frankly, I'm tired of hearing everyone say "story is king". What the hell is an epic story if it falls under the fragile weight of its writing? Would any agent rely on you to consistently deliver the goods? Under a deadline? Would an editor's eyes not pop out, wondering to themselves why you're making their job hell?
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Dreamscale
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 7:15pm Report to Moderator
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Rick, What can I say?  

Well, I can say I do enjoy these types of disussions, because it's clear that there are numerous perspectives and those that partake care enough to try and get their point across.  It may be a rehashing over and over, but IMO, it's not wasted time or efforts.

What I'm saying is that any script that is poorly written shouldn't even be read.  Tough? Cruel?  Maybe, but IMO, true.

Within the first few lines, this will be apparent, 90% of the time.  Within the first page, this will be apparent 95% of the time.  And within the first 3 pages, this will be apparent 99% of the time.

In my earlier example of an interview, if you show up barefoot or let's say frickin' nude, you're not going to even have that interview, unless you've got quite the story to tell.  You may be the perfect person for that job, but for most, perception and first impressions go a fucking long, long way.  And, IMO, writing is the same way.

You say that most amateur scripts just aren't worthy or good enough for professional production - all I can say to that is that most professional scripts aren't either, yet they're made and HUGE amounts of time, money, and talent are thrown into them...and wasted.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Dreamscale
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 7:18pm Report to Moderator
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Johnny, I won't quote you, but I agree 100% with what you said, what you questioned, and what you implied.  I can't see it any other way, to be perfectly honest.

And, in no way is this a knock on PAGE or any other competition.

Maybe I'm brainwashed?  LOL  


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 8:15pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dreamscale
Rick, What can I say?  

Well, I can say I do enjoy these types of disussions, because it's clear that there are numerous perspectives and those that partake care enough to try and get their point across.  It may be a rehashing over and over, but IMO, it's not wasted time or efforts.

What I'm saying is that any script that is poorly written shouldn't even be read.  Tough? Cruel?  Maybe, but IMO, true.

Within the first few lines, this will be apparent, 90% of the time.  Within the first page, this will be apparent 95% of the time.  And within the first 3 pages, this will be apparent 99% of the time.

In my earlier example of an interview, if you show up barefoot or let's say frickin' nude, you're not going to even have that interview, unless you've got quite the story to tell.  You may be the perfect person for that job, but for most, perception and first impressions go a fucking long, long way.  And, IMO, writing is the same way.

You say that most amateur scripts just aren't worthy or good enough for professional production - all I can say to that is that most professional scripts aren't either, yet they're made and HUGE amounts of time, money, and talent are thrown into them...and wasted.


We're both essentially saying the same thing, it's just that you put (in my opinion) an unduly large emphasis on the technical matters.

Professional companies have to make something to pay the bills. They will make the best script that fits their market. Sometimes they won't be up to much...but they have to make something. There just aren't many great scripts.


I'll be totally honest...I can tell 95% of scripts will be shit from their title alone.

"The weeping house of horror" instead of just "Weep"  or something like that.
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eldave1
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 9:01pm Report to Moderator
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A very interesting series of comments.

To me, the issue of whether or not PAGE should dismiss a script up front based on the first few pages of formatting is kind of a non-starter. They simply don't. As Rick detailed, they have several categories of review, none of which are pass/fail. I suspect that this is pretty much how the industry operates as well. Bad premise - the script's not moving forward no matter how well it is technically written. Great premise - it's moving forward with typos and format issues. I don't think it matters what one desires the world to be - it is what it is.

In my view at least, to judge the entirety of anything on a few pages is problematic. I have read scripts that started out slow, but I ended up loving (As Good As It Gets is a good example) and other ones where I thought the first 30 pages were dynamite but the story went totally kaput along the way. In either case, when I was done with the script, it wouldn't have matter a whit to me as to whether the screenplay was absolutely technically correct.

So - back to contests. It seems to me that if nothing else it gives you an opportunity for someone to read your entire script and assess it in a wide range of categories - regardless of whether or not your first few pages are compelling or technically sound. In my view, that's a good thing. If you think it is - then enter a contest. If you think it isn't - then don't.





My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Posted: January 12th, 2015, 10:17pm Report to Moderator
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Yes, story/structure and writing/format are separate concepts. But why are they always at odds with each other? John Truby says, "What you choose to write about is far more important than any decision you make about how to write it. One of his few and only quotes I disagree with.

Great writers are great because they know how to hook up the two concepts, convince them to have sex, maybe even get married and have babies.

I prefer this:

"Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. - Red Smith
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Dustin
Posted: January 13th, 2015, 10:06am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from EWall433


It’s certainly not as transparent as you’d want it be, but ‘strange’ as in, “unlike what I would expect to see”? Not for me.


My point on that... I haven't been clear... is that Page claims that the readers prefer their anonymity to save writers hassling them. Yet, all a writer need do is pay an extra $40 and find out exactly who has read their script.

Is it the case that Page feels anyone paying $40 is less of a reasonable person than somebody paying $80? It seems that way. The readers are protected from the lowly $40 payers because obviously they are more likely to be stalkers.


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Dreamscale
Posted: January 13th, 2015, 11:53am Report to Moderator
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I have a serious question that just came to me as I looked over the "how to Enter" page, on the PAGE Awards website.

There are 4 periods in which one can enter, and each costs a different amount, starting at $39 for Early, up to $69 for Last Minute.

I wonder if the readers of the Early entries are the same ones who read the Last Minute entries...and I wonder if they receive the same money on the Early entries, as the Last Minute entries.

Interesting, huh?

I also wonder if the Early entries are treated the same as the Last Minute entries.  What I mean is that after reading 100's of scripts, each "reader" will have a much better idea of how certain scripts stack up against others, and an Early entrie may stand out for them, but maybe they didn't grade it as high as they now wished they did, based on all the scripts that followed.

Interesting?  I think so.

IMO, it's much like an OWC, only on a much grander scale.  Many times, I read and reviewed an early entry and gave it praise (compared to what I had read so far), only to realize later that it was nowhere near as good as others that followed.  But, when you're using an actual grading scale with points, there's no going back to adjust a score that turned out to be either too high or too low, based on the overall pool.

Hey, trust me, I understand there's no 100% "fair" way to judge things like this, but that's why I said yesterday that professionally written scripts that are also well written should move forward, period, and those that aren't should not.  That way, in the 2nd round, every script will be on a much more equal playing field and those that really shine will stand out and those that merely "look good" will not.

Interesting topics for discussion...


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 13th, 2015, 12:41pm Report to Moderator
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There's little point over-thinking it.

As a screenwriter you either pack up and move to LA and make yourself all the friends you can in the Industry.

That is by far the most sensible approach, if you're serious about it,


Or you have to find your own way in by doing whatever you can, which probably includes building some rep through competitions like PAGE. The odds on anything happening may well be against you...but they are slightly higher than doing nothing.
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PAGE Awards
Posted: January 13th, 2015, 2:00pm Report to Moderator
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You guys have raised a bunch of great questions and brought up some very interesting ideas here. In fact, many of these are questions that we continually think about and discuss ourselves, as we always want to make sure the contest runs as well as it possibly can.

Dustin, sorry if I wasn't clear about this, but we don't actually give writers who receive Feedback the name of the judge who evaluated their script.  We only provide the judge's initials for reference and a short bio (reads for UTA or Scott Free or wherever, studied at NYU or USC or wherever, has judged for the PAGE Awards for X number of years, etc.).  This is just so the writer can get an idea of the judge's background and experience.  Even so, I'm afraid some writers have figured out who those judges are and have tracked them down -- either because it's one of the names listed on our website, or it's a judge who once wrote a LOGLINE column for us, or just because the writer's a great sleuth.  Obviously this is something we want to try to avoid, but unfortunately it still happens now and then.

Dreamscale, unless our judges get another major gig or have to leave us for some personal reason, most of them read for us for the entire contest season. And yes, they are paid the same fees throughout. The scaled entry fees are to encourage writers to enter as early as possible, rather than waiting til the last minute -- which most writers would no doubt do unless otherwise incentivized.  And if they did that, it would make it impossible for us to get all the scripts judged in time to meet our announcement dates.  We actually take a loss on early entries, but over the course of the year the entry fees average out to make it possible for us to pay all our bills.

Re scoring: We ask the first round judges to advance the scripts that they believe are in (approximately) the top 25% of all entries. Most of them get a bead on it pretty quickly. It usually takes reading about 20-25 scripts to get a feel for the quality and range of entries. And yes, we do allow the judges to go back and adjust a score if they feel that they made a mistake at some point along the way.  This rarely happens with judges who've read for us for a couple of years, but it does sometimes happen with our new judges -- and obviously we wouldn't want to penalize a writer because they happened to get a new judge.

To advance to Round 2, the first round judge needs to give a script a score of 60 or higher.  That's how the first round judges make these determinations. Right now, our first round is already in process, and pretty soon we will have enough scripts scored to begin reading Round 2.  (Our first two rounds run concurrently.) Then the combined scores of those two judges will determine which scripts are in the top 10% and advance to the Quarter-Final Round this summer.  At that point, the Quarter-Final and higher rounds are all read in a pretty compressed time period -- plus, those judges don't necessarily read the scripts in the order they were submitted -- so the submission date has no impact whatsoever.

And yes, the judges do read each script through.  We need them to do that in order to determine whether or not the script should advance.   Obviously the judges who are writing Feedback have to read those scripts very carefully in order to write good notes for the writer.  But even when they don't write Feedback, the judges need to know how the story plays out, whether the script hits its structural marks, whether it has any interesting twists, what happens to the characters, etc., in order to be able to score and comment on it.  

Of course, I don't sit over the shoulder of each and every judge watching them read each and every word of each and every script, so with some of the really weak screenplays I wouldn't be surprised if the judges start speed reading at some point.  That's just human nature.  And at a certain point an experienced reader does know whether or not a script has a chance of advancing. But even if it's a weak screenplay, they do still have to score and comment on it. And I can tell you that the judges who work for us are a very conscientious group and they take their job quite seriously.  Whenever I've randomly asked any of them about scripts they didn't like, they've always been able to talk about how the story plays out and about the ending, so I do know they've read it through.  

Bottom line, whatever small glitches there might be in the process or whichever choices you or I might personally question, at the end of the day, I think our judges do an excellent job!

There are several more really interesting questions and ideas you guys have raised here which I'd love to respond to at some point, but we have a big deadline coming up on Thursday and my in-box is demanding my attention.  In the meantime, I hope I've helped answer at least a couple of your questions.

Best regards,
Jen

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Dreamscale
Posted: January 13th, 2015, 2:47pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


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Thanks, Jen.  You did address my questions, and I appreciate it.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 14th, 2015, 3:33am Report to Moderator
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Just entering this now.

One problem I've noticed is with the genre categories it makes you choose, in particular:

Action/Adventure
Thriller/Horror

Mine is an Action Thriller.

Doesn't really seem to be a natural fit in either.
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