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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Contests - Screenwriting and Filmmaking  ›  Contesting the contest Moderators: Don
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Anon
Posted: July 29th, 2018, 5:18am Report to Moderator
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Has anyone here actually got any benefit from entering a contest?

Ive only enter the Nicholl a couple of times. Last year script made the semis. Last 120 or so from 7000. This year same script with minor improvements didnt even get a positive review. Absolute bottom of the pile. Ah, annother disgruntled writer I hear you say. But im Far from disgruntled.

Since last year that script has got me -

An option
Meetings with many high profile production companies
A commission

And another script got me repped. Looks like im Not eligible to enter again but even if my burgeoning career falls on its ass - very possible - dont think I would.

So my question is- is there any point in them? If you have a good script, why not role the dice sending it to prod cos, agents etc? That is free and yes - you might get a bored reader that cant be bothered to appreciate  your work. But thats what youre PAYING FOR in a comp.

So I ask agai n, what is the point? What are they doing you cant do for free? This is a legitimate enquiry and im Happy to be proven wrong. But to me they seem at worst money making schemes and at best a role of the dice you can do for free anyway?

Opinions?
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StevenClark
Posted: July 29th, 2018, 7:53am Report to Moderator
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Some of the high profile contests like Nicholls or Page, especially if your placement gets you reads, an option and meetings, is definitely worth it. Why should prodcos just take your word for it when they can see the results of a contest and know, based on that, your script is not trash? So Id say, yeah, why not? Take a chance.

And send out queries. Time consuming, yes! Ive gotten several reads doing that. No options yet, but at least youve gotten your foot in the door, so to speak. Ive had a dialogue with a few different producers, just talking and picking their brains, etc. Not everyone in Hollywood, or wherever, is a hard ass.


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eldave1
Posted: July 29th, 2018, 10:31am Report to Moderator
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It's not one or the other. It's an entire toolbox.

- Enter three of four prestigious contests.
- Get your work out on the web (sites likes this, etc).
- Create a list of production companies/management agencies that seem to do a lot of work in your wheelhouse and query them.
- etc.

So contests by the own - no. Combine them with other efforts.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Anon
Posted: July 29th, 2018, 1:24pm Report to Moderator
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So im still interested if anyone on this site with its many members have benefitted from a competition. Or have more had success  saving the money and knocking on doors yourself?

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Angry Bear
Posted: July 29th, 2018, 9:58pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Anon
So i�m still interested if anyone on this site with its many members have benefitted from a competition. Or have more had success  saving the money and knocking on doors yourself?



We've had several people seeing success from major comps here. Most famous one is probably Mr. Z who was the finalist in PAGE a couple of years back and wrote this Hollywood movie.  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4348012/?ref_=nv_sr_1

So, for some people, comps definitely pay off.  


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Anon
Posted: July 30th, 2018, 2:06am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Angry Bear


We've had several people seeing success from major comps here. Most famous one is probably Mr. Z who was the finalist in PAGE a couple of years back and wrote this Hollywood movie.  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4348012/?ref_=nv_sr_1

So, for some people, comps definitely pay off.  


Very cool. Always meant to watch that. And it was a result of his comp placement?
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: July 30th, 2018, 2:52am Report to Moderator
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It's all about profile building and making connections. If you send out a spec script to a producer that has numerous awards attached to it, it me persuade them to at least read the first ten pages.

Sometimes the connections and benefits are not obvious or direct. I was in the finals of Shriekfest last year. This gained me an interview on Shriekfest radio which was heard by a director who then checked out my website and found a script he liked. He optioned it and it's due to start filming in October.

The more avenues you explore and seeds you plant, then the more waves you make and maybe, just maybe get noticed.



For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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AnthonyCawood
Posted: July 30th, 2018, 4:35am Report to Moderator
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It depends on what you class as success... if your semis in the Nicholl got your script optioned then it's a success?

As noted, we've had a Page winner from this community go on to bigger and better things in Hollywood, though I think he'd have got there anyway as he's a great writer...

But, I think it varies writer by writer, some will make it with the help of competitions, some will find another route as Dave suggested.

There's plenty of writers on here with shorts and features optioned/made who've not won any of the major competitions...

Personally I've won a couple of smaller comps for cash, so my winnings are greater than my entry fees and both winning scripts (shorts) have been bought and made... and my bio says Award-winning script writer which I think helps get reads at times.



Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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Anon
Posted: July 30th, 2018, 6:12am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AnthonyCawood
It depends on what you class as success... if your semis in the Nicholl got your script optioned then it's a success?




The semis placement wasn't related to the option. Or anything else moving me forward. But it seems you're at least making something out of comps, so good on yer!
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RJP
Posted: July 30th, 2018, 10:22pm Report to Moderator
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You hear a lot of that online. Yeah but has anyone actually got their movie made after winning that contest? Stuff like that. Dont fall into that trap. It is very hard to become a professional screenwriter. There are film schools pumping out graduates every year and thats on top of all the regulars that have been doing it professionally already. Its sort of like putting down a fashion student for winning an award like: well does she even have her own clothing line though.

We know Nicholl scripts have been made into movies. We know Nicholl placements lead to getting signed. But asking the hundred or so regulars on the Simply Script forums if anyone has made something from a contest placement is asking a very small group in the large scheme of things.

When you got Semis in the Academy Nicholl, you were pretty pumped right? It made you feel like you had the right stuff. Thats why I enter contests. Because I want some way of gauging my skills so I can improve. And sometimes contests get it wrong, I understand this.
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Anon
Posted: July 31st, 2018, 1:53am Report to Moderator
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Hey RJP. Yeh I hear you. And I know how long and hard the road is. But for me personally, it wasn�t a contest that got a foot in the door. It was networking and getting a script in front of an agent that would actually read it. He didn�t offer me representation but liked it enough to read my next two scripts and eventually that was my fist pump moment. It was then another two years of hard work and many crushing disappointments before anything came of being repped. And still nothing has been made so on it goes with loads more work on top of a day job.

But what interests me is if people have a much better shot with queries and networking than they do with contests. Statistically are they much better served spending their money going to writers events etc.?  I thought there might be enough writers on here to at east get a sense of that. By all means enter contests if on top of everything else you have the cash - but people certainly shouldn't� Gauge how good their work is on how far they get. A contest is not guaranteed to tell you if you have the right stuff. Shit will get through and great scripts won�t. This site is a better measure of how decent a script is, I think, and it�s free.

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Anon  -  July 31st, 2018, 2:14am
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: July 31st, 2018, 2:30am Report to Moderator
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Maybe slightly off topic but I've not gone down the producer route much yet for two reasons, I've only recently moved into TV pilots and features after several years learning via writing shorts, so I haven't had anything to sell as such. Second reason, I haven't a clue where to begin.

People talk a lot about contacting agents, producers etc but how do you find these people, how do you know which folk to contact? I trialed IMDB Pro for a month and the answer didn't jump out at me. You still have to know who to search for and the few folks I did manage to research and find, didn't have contact details on IMDB Pro!!

Any suggestions welcome, if you think this should be a separate topic then I'll cut and paste it into to one, but to steer it back on course I'll say competitions have helped me figure out if my writing is heading in the write (pun intended) direction.

When I started I was rejected or didn't qualify for anything. Then I started to crawl up the ranks so I got that buzz and I knew I was  improving. Yes it's subjective, but when you get more yes and less no that's a sign your voice is resonating with more than it isn't; which is a good thing.

Then this year I got a nice surprise, actually prizes! I got $1200, a trip to London and attended a 3 day Story Seminar by Robert McKee.

But yeah, now I'm moving onto pilots and features so I will be needing to do the networking and contacting thing as well as the competitions. Scary stuff! I'm heading to the London Screenwriting Festival in London in September, so hoping to make a few contacts there.


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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Anon
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Quoted from MarkRenshaw
Maybe slightly off topic but I've not gone down the producer route much yet for two reasons, I've only recently moved into TV pilots and features after several years learning via writing shorts, so I haven't had anything to sell as such. Second reason, I haven't a clue where to begin.

People talk a lot about contacting agents, producers etc but how do you find these people, how do you know which folk to contact? I trialed IMDB Pro for a month and the answer didn't jump out at me. You still have to know who to search for and the few folks I did manage to research and find, didn't have contact details on IMDB Pro!!

Any suggestions welcome, if you think this should be a separate topic then I'll cut and paste it into to one, but to steer it back on course I'll say competitions have helped me figure out if my writing is heading in the write (pun intended) direction.

When I started I was rejected or didn't qualify for anything. Then I started to crawl up the ranks so I got that buzz and I knew I was  improving. Yes it's subjective, but when you get more yes and less no that's a sign your voice is resonating with more than it isn't; which is a good thing.

Then this year I got a nice surprise, actually prizes! I got $1200, a trip to London and attended a 3 day Story Seminar by Robert McKee.

But yeah, now I'm moving onto pilots and features so I will be needing to do the networking and contacting thing as well as the competitions. Scary stuff! I'm heading to the London Screenwriting Festival in London in September, so hoping to make a few contacts there.


No not off topic I'd say. One bit of advice I could give is make the most of any relationship you have or can build with a working screenwriter. At the festival you mentioned for instance. But if you can get a repped / working writer to read something - and they believe it to be awesome - then they might well hand it to their agency with a recommendation. Trick is to get your face in front of them (not just fire emails to people you find online) and write something so good/unique they really feel it's worth handing over.

But whoever your contact, I think the face-to-face thing is better than the best letter in the world. I was told about a writer doing well here in the UK when I met with a production company he works with. He was working in a warehouse when he went to an event like the one you mentioned. He spoke to a senior member of this production company, asked if he could send her some stuff, and soon after a 2-page pitch doc he wrote ended up getting him a show made.


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MarkRenshaw
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Thanks for the advice. Gotta up my game at this festival and do some serious networking.


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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RJP
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Quoted from Anon
Hey RJP. Yeh I hear you. And I know how long and hard the road is. But for me personally, it wasn�t a contest that got a foot in the door. It was networking and getting a script in front of an agent that would actually read it. He didn�t offer me representation but liked it enough to read my next two scripts and eventually that was my fist pump moment. It was then another two years of hard work and many crushing disappointments before anything came of being repped. And still nothing has been made so on it goes with loads more work on top of a day job.

But what interests me is if people have a much better shot with queries and networking than they do with contests. Statistically are they much better served spending their money going to writers events etc.?  I thought there might be enough writers on here to at east get a sense of that. By all means enter contests if on top of everything else you have the cash - but people certainly shouldn't� Gauge how good their work is on how far they get. A contest is not guaranteed to tell you if you have the right stuff. Shit will get through and great scripts won�t. This site is a better measure of how decent a script is, I think, and it�s free.


You might be right. Do you live in the LA area? I live in Canada so can only try and network online. I feel like I need a decent placement at the Nicholl or Austin to put on my resume. Know what I mean?

As far as the contest not being a good measure of your skill. You did make the semis of the Nicholl. Thats very hard to do. And you ARE a good writer, you got an agent. I think its this years results that have you scratching your head. I cant fathom either that you made the semis one year and didnt get a third read next...I guess you have to keep in mind that quarters are only top 5% and youre going against droves of past finalists. Like, people are still posting their semi scripts from 8 years ago.

Just curious, you didnt at all mention that your script was a semifinalist before getting read by that agent? A ton of people dont get the time of day by agents. Your placement may have helped you more than you know.
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eldave1
Posted: July 31st, 2018, 12:11pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from RJP
You hear a lot of that online. Yeah but has anyone actually got their movie made after winning that contest? Stuff like that. Dont fall into that trap. It is very hard to become a professional screenwriter. There are film schools pumping out graduates every year and thats on top of all the regulars that have been doing it professionally already. Its sort of like putting down a fashion student for winning an award like: well does she even have her own clothing line though.

We know Nicholl scripts have been made into movies. We know Nicholl placements lead to getting signed. But asking the hundred or so regulars on the Simply Script forums if anyone has made something from a contest placement is asking a very small group in the large scheme of things.

When you got Semis in the Academy Nicholl, you were pretty pumped right? It made you feel like you had the right stuff. Thats why I enter contests. Because I want some way of gauging my skills so I can improve. And sometimes contests get it wrong, I understand this.


IMO - it's not one or the other.

I finished 2nd in a PAGE contest in the comedy category. I got 5 Agent queries from that, 1 request from a Production company - no success.

I've sent tons of queries to production companies/agents. As you can imagine - very low response rate.

I believe that if your query has PAGE Finalist or even better NICHOLLS FINALIST on it you chances of getting a hit are much better.

I also look at contests as part of the "hobby". I'm competing in a hobby I enjoy against other writers. It's ego rewarding to do well. Nothing wrong with that.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Angry Bear
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I can't see how placing in one of the bigger recognizable competitions could hurt, at all. If you can afford to enter, go for it, IMO.

I have never sent out a query letter. I'm interested in what they look like. Just a one page? How much to include as far as info goes. Do you tell them all about yourself and your accomplishments or just info about the script in question?


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eldave1
Posted: July 31st, 2018, 1:15pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Angry Bear
I can't see how placing in one of the bigger recognizable competitions could hurt, at all. If you can afford to enter, go for it, IMO.

I have never sent out a query letter. I'm interested in what they look like. Just a one page? How much to include as far as info goes. Do you tell them all about yourself and your accomplishments or just info about the script in question?


Here's a sample:

My name is David Lambertson.  I would like to submit my feature-length script to you for your consideration. This script one the Silver Award in the 2017 PAGE International Screenwriting Contest.

Title:  The Beginning of The End and The End.

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Logline: A battle of wits ensues when a jaded, arrogant divorce lawyer moves into an office adjacent to a strong-willed marriage counselor. Ironically, a building fire that interrupts their battles sparks a relationship.

Comps to other Films.

A more condensed version of When Harry Met Sally. It has the witty dialogue of that film along with the physical comedy of Bridesmaid.

Production Considerations

The film should be able to be produced on a modest budget.  It is based in Los Angeles and most of the film takes place in a single location (Emily and Georges Offices). No special effects.

Target Audience.

A romantic comedy for adults. Suitable for either the big screen or small screen.

A brief synopsis of the story follows. I would like to send the script to you for your consideration. I can be reached at:

dlambertson@hotmail.com
Phone Number

Thank you in advance for you consideration.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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ReneC
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Contests alone will rarely help you aside from the prizes, unless you place highly in the Nicholl. What they do for you is establish your credibility as a writer. Agents, managers, and producers don't have time to read every unsolicited script sent their way to determine if the script or the writer are any good, which is part of the reason many don't accept unsolicited scripts at all. Winning contests, especially the big ones, means someone who knows what they're doing has put their seal of approval on your script, and by extension on you as a writer.

That's where querying to agents and managers or submitting to open calls for scripts comes in. The more accomplishments you have to say you are a quality writer, the more doors will open for you. You still have to pitch your ideas and sell yourself, but you'll get those opportunities, as long as you've been vetted by someone the industry can trust.

Another excellent accomplishment is to make your own sale. For querying, that's number 1 and 2 on the list of desirables, the big sale or the small sale. After all, agents and managers want to make money from you, so if you can bring in money you're their kind of client. (By the way, for querying, it's suggested you put the one or two best accomplishments right in the subject line, such as "Nicholl Finalist" or "Blacklist rated 8.5").

The other great thing about contests is they give you a deadline. Writing for yourself has little accountability, but if a contest deadline looms over you it tends to make you finish and polish it where you might normally lose steam and not finish it or tuck it away, perhaps to never see it again.


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Anon
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Quoted from RJP


You might be right. Do you live in the LA area? I live in Canada so can only try and network online. I feel like I need a decent placement at the Nicholl or Austin to put on my resume. Know what I mean?


Yes I hear you. And a good placement may help from what other folks are saying. I live in the UK so all meetings I have are London based. And I'm 200 miles away from London so that sucks! It's a 2hr train journey each way and it costs me a fortune going back and forth every couple of weeks. But still cheaper than living in London. I know there are Canadian based production companies that might accept submissions, though. One that I know of is Goldrush - who I've had contact with - but can't attest to their quality. Check them out.


Just curious, you didnt at all mention that your script was a semifinalist before getting read by that agent? A ton of people dont get the time of day by agents. Your placement may have helped you more than you know.

Funny thing - but like I said in the first post - it was a different script that got me the agent and that didn't place in the Nicholl at all (I entered both scripts both years).

I guess what I think - like others have said - best not to rely solely on placing in comps. You may never win the Austin or Nicholl but have a kick-ass low budget genre film that some prod-co would love. And it doesn't have to be a prodco - maybe you could send it to a Advertising Director - most of them are looking for a low-budget script to be their first film.

I bet SAW or BLAIR WITCH woudn't have got shit in the Nicholl but boy did they make a shit ton of money.



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RJP
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Quoted from Anon



Thanks for the advice. And congrats on getting in agent. It's got to be really hard to land one if you live outside of Hollywood.
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