Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

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  • Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

    Am I crazy or guessing right when I get the impression that basically all of the contests tend to favor lower budget scripts that the smaller companies can get behind? Possibly because that's where their 'clout' lies? I might even add, scripts that don't rock the boat much, and so easier to finance?

    I'm not belittling winners, btw! Obviously, you can't beat thousands of entries with a bad or totally unoriginal script. To be clearer, I simply mean I've never seen a historical, epic-type or even a sci-fi that requires a lot of FX, etc. among the winners of any of them. Is this something everyone knows already? (i.e., what 'types' of scripts to enter?) I'd love to hear from some of you who've read for various contests, whether this isn't part of the criteria!

    This is also partly sparked by another ddpers question, regarding all the categories offered in the Page Awards. Do they have the connections for some of those more costly categories? After all, their last Grand Prize winner was signed by Ken Atchity. Some insights, anybody?

  • #2
    Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

    Originally posted by cuppajoe View Post
    Am I crazy or guessing right when I get the impression that basically all of the contests tend to favor lower budget scripts that the smaller companies can get behind? Possibly because that's where their 'clout' lies? I might even add, scripts that don't rock the boat much, and so easier to finance?

    I'm not belittling winners, btw! Obviously, you can't beat thousands of entries with a bad or totally unoriginal script. To be clearer, I simply mean I've never seen a historical, epic-type or even a sci-fi that requires a lot of FX, etc. among the winners of any of them. Is this something everyone knows already? (i.e., what 'types' of scripts to enter?) I'd love to hear from some of you who've read for various contests, whether this isn't part of the criteria!

    This is also partly sparked by another ddpers question, regarding all the categories offered in the Page Awards. Do they have the connections for some of those more costly categories? After all, their last Grand Prize winner was signed by Ken Atchity. Some insights, anybody?
    Dude, most contest wins don't amount to very much. If you're lucky, a win *might* get you some reads but there's no guarantee. As far as what type of script to enter, try one with a good story.
    "I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray." - Prince

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    • #3
      Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

      Originally posted by Furious Anjel View Post
      Dude, most contest wins don't amount to very much. If you're lucky, a win *might* get you some reads but there's no guarantee. As far as what type of script to enter, try one with a good story.


      Cute. Didn't I say that?

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      • #4
        Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

        Originally posted by cuppajoe View Post
        Cute. Didn't I say that?
        You're right. My bad.
        "I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray." - Prince

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        • #5
          Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

          methinks some contests are looking for scripts that their sponsor wants to back. you've got to pay attention to the details or the purpose of the contest.
          To be clearer, I simply mean I've never seen a historical, epic-type or even a sci-fi that requires a lot of FX, etc. among the winners of any of them.
          me also thinks often these more commercial/tentpole concepts are not as personal to the writer and therefore the story suffers from some quality.

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          • #6
            Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

            I don't think legit contests care about the budget - which is completely unimportant to them because they aren't making the film.

            But contests tend to be non-commercial (maybe even anti-commercial), so sci-fi and FX don't matter to them (or may be points off) and serious drama is more likely to do better.

            Contests are like the Oscars - you have AVATAR and HURT LOCKER in the running... and which wins?

            - Bill
            Free Script Tips:
            http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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            • #7
              Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

              Originally posted by wcmartell View Post
              But contests tend to be non-commercial (maybe even anti-commercial), so sci-fi and FX don't matter to them (or may be points off) and serious drama is more likely to do better.
              I just wonder what you base this on, Bill. Personal experience? Surveying several hundred competitions to see what their guidelines are and what sorts of scripts have won year in and out?

              As to points off for science fiction and special effects, I find it hard to believe that any competition that is open to science fiction and effects would do so. It is not true for any genre in the Nicholl competition. And hard genre scripts tend to advance to the quarter/semifinals in about the same percentage as the entries in those genres.

              Probably true that a big science fiction script would not do well in the Sundance Labs competition but then its mission is specifically to find indie scripts.

              We spent many posts discussing dramas regarding the Nicholl competition in a thread earlier this year. As it turns out, dramas tend to win the Nicholl in about the same percentage as the number of entries. Both are close to 33%.

              As often as I keep pointing this out, few seem to pay attention: scripts by new writers seldom sell and are even less likely to be produced. Measuring competition winning scripts on the basis of being produced is a ridiculous standard.

              BTW, the next Nicholl-winning script to be released should be Bragi Schut's Season of the Witch, a horror film starring Nick Cage. The next Nicholl-winning script to go into production should be Jason Micallef's Butter, a comedy starring Jennifer Garner.

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              • #8
                Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

                Thanks for the input, everyone! I had indeed forgotten about the contests that specialize in sci-fi, horror, indies or what have you. Point well taken.

                I was thinking more along the lines of historical, in fact, and was surprized to discover, thanks to another ddper's question, that the Page Awards reserved a category for them. The smaller prod cos (which are the ones, it seems, generally more willing to give contest winners a read) usually won't consider them - not surprizingly, since comedies, thrillers, horror or indy dramas are less expensive, right? So my understanding was it was not a 'good genre' for contests. Does this mean the Page Awards have gained better access or clout?...as far as anyone knows?

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                • #9
                  Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

                  Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
                  BTW, the next Nicholl-winning script to be released should be Bragi Schut's Season of the Witch, a horror film starring Nick Cage. The next Nicholl-winning script to go into production should be Jason Micallef's Butter, a comedy starring Jennifer Garner.
                  things that make you go, hmmmm! gb, are we to believe that this writer had not been paid at least $5000 for all the work he had done prior to this competition? or did he win 5 years ago?
                  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0776885/

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                  • #10
                    Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

                    Originally posted by NikeeGoddess View Post
                    things that make you go, hmmmm! gb, are we to believe that this writer had not been paid at least $5000 for all the work he had done prior to this competition? or did he win 5 years ago?
                    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0776885/
                    He won in 2003, which took a matter of seconds to google and find on the Nicholl website.

                    http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl...s/notable.html

                    Bragi Schut – 2003 Fellow
                    Bragi Schut created and was co-executive producer of the CBS series “Threshold.” He also wrote “Season of the Witch,” currently in production. He also wrote and directed the short film “Charlie Thistle.”

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                    • #11
                      Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

                      thanks.
                      no, i didn't go to their site. silly me.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Don't Contests Seek Lo-Budget Scripts?

                        Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
                        BTW, the next Nicholl-winning script to be released should be Bragi Schut's Season of the Witch, a horror film starring Nick Cage. The next Nicholl-winning script to go into production should be Jason Micallef's Butter, a comedy starring Jennifer Garner.
                        In defense of Bill, even the winning scripts that are commercial enough to get produced are hardly mainstream: a horror film that's a 14th century period costume piece and a comedy that's a "political satire set in the small-town world of competitive butter-sculpting".

                        Those are a far cry from SAW and THE HANGOVER.
                        Steven Palmer Peterson

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