Confessions of a Contest Judge

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  • #61
    Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

    Originally posted by SuperScribe View Post
    The solution is simple: shoot aspiring screenwriters on sight.


    The solution is simple: shoot ENTRENCHED screenwriters on sight.


    Fixed.


    Gotta make room.


    LOL


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    • #62
      Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

      Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
      I don't see any way to solve the above without remaking the entire Hollywood business model.
      The business model is irrelevant after #6. At that point, it's about the words on the page. That's how others have solved it. Like these people:

      Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
      Do some of the people who do well in these contests go on to success? Sure. The kind of people whose writing stands out, and who work on their craft enough to win contests, will tend to be the ones to move to the next level. But it has little to nothing to do with those contests.
      The only thing it has to do with contests is that they figured out that in order to stand out a script has to be written very well from beginning to end. It seems obvious, but we've all read scripts that aren't good so we know not everyone is at that level. Since more contest winners go pro than losers, obviously the contests are more right than wrong.

      All contests have their own issues and some are worse than others. We can hate judges all we want, but ultimately they're offering advice we'd be stupid not to follow next time we put money where our pen is.

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      • #63
        Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

        Originally posted by killertv View Post
        The business model is irrelevant after #6. At that point, it's about the words on the page. That's how others have solved it. Like these people:



        The only thing it has to do with contests is that they figured out that in order to stand out a script has to be written very well from beginning to end. It seems obvious, but we've all read scripts that aren't good so we know not everyone is at that level. Since more contest winners go pro than losers, obviously the contests are more right than wrong.

        All contests have their own issues and some are worse than others. We can hate judges all we want, but ultimately they're offering advice we'd be stupid not to follow next time we put money where our pen is.

        killer, I'm not going to debate you. You either read for contests and you feel as if you are justified for throwing screenplays in the trash after page three, ten, fifteen, or whatever. Or you know someone who reads for contests and they do this, and you are defending them.


        This is the plain fact. Other than Nicholl, and maybe a half dozen other competitions, screenplay competitions are about making money off of writers, NOT discovering new talent. NOT providing a door to the industry.


        And your comment relating that the Hollywood business model has nothing do with everything after number 6, I simply point out that...


        Number 6 follows number 5. Which follows number 4. And is part of the entire equation. Which if taken on the whole, provides a CONTEXT for the entire discussion we are having. If you want to take parts of my post out of context, then I'm not going to respond to any more of your posts.



        If you can't see the truth in what most have posted here and agree on this topic, I'm not going to continue trying to convince you.




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        • #64
          Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

          Originally posted by killertv View Post
          apologies... i'm not defending the practice so much as advocating the need to understand it to write through it
          Fair enough. Though I think everyone tries to make their writing the best possible, so you may be preaching to the choir on that one.

          Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
          Do some of the people who do well in these contests go on to success? Sure. The kind of people whose writing stands out, and who work on their craft enough to win contests, will tend to be the ones to move to the next level. But it has little to nothing to do with those contests. No one who's anyone gives a shit about 99% of them.

          The contest that counts is selling a script or getting hired. All of this "contest season" and handicapping of the various contests is nuts. Work a script until it's perfect. Query the hell out of it. While you're doing that, be writing the next script. If Austin or Disney or Nicholl or trackingb rolls around, send your latest script in if you've got 50 bucks to burn.

          Save the money you would have spent on entry fees on the other ones and take an extension class at UCLA. Or take a trip so you've got something to write about.
          I get what you're saying, Jeff. I'm with you. And it's unfortunate that the surest way to figure out which contests are just out for your money is after you've given it to them.

          But it's hard to rule out contests, especially with so few avenues open to aspiring writers.
          Looking to take the "Bono" off my screenname.

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          • #65
            Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

            @ProBono, when people post "I thought the first ten was just for production companies and it shouldn't apply to contests I pay to enter" then the choir doesn't know the song.

            Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
            killer, I'm not going to debate you. You either read for contests and you feel as if you are justified for throwing screenplays in the trash after page three, ten, fifteen, or whatever. Or you know someone who reads for contests and they do this, and you are defending them.
            Read my previous posts regarding friends who read. I don't read for contests but have read a lot for work. As someone who applies to some contests, I care about hearing where others have gone wrong so I can do better. The more judges are vilified, the fewer will share about their experience. That helps no one.

            As a reader, I don't have to justify throwing out a script before finishing it. The script justifies itself by not entertaining. It's called entertainment for a reason.

            Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
            This is the plain fact. Other than Nicholl, and maybe a half dozen other competitions, screenplay competitions are about making money off of writers, NOT discovering new talent. NOT providing a door to the industry.
            I didn't say competitions are non-profits. I just said that most generally include some kind of exposure as a prize. Like Jeff said, most real players don't care, but some people do get a benefit from the experience from a wide variety of contests, some of which may be suspect.

            Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
            And your comment relating that the Hollywood business model has nothing do with everything after number 6, I simply point out that...


            Number 6 follows number 5. Which follows number 4. And is part of the entire equation. Which if taken on the whole, provides a CONTEXT for the entire discussion we are having. If you want to take parts of my post out of context, then I'm not going to respond to any more of your posts.
            I may be misunderstood here. I'm saying #7 & #8 don't matter if the script at #6 isn't good enough for #1.

            Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
            If you can't see the truth in what most have posted here and agree on this topic, I'm not going to continue trying to convince you
            I agree that the ideal is for every contest to hire expert judges to read every word of every page. That isn't the reality so it doesn't matter to me - all I care about is how to write for the real world, which judges scripts similarly to contests. Either I can write well enough to impress a contest judge or I can't write well enough to impress an industry reader.

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            • #66
              Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

              This is my last reply on this topic.


              The one real truth here is that there aren't enough readers in Hollywood to read all the screenplays that pour in. And that is why a few weeks ago we had a post exposing a blog where the reader was actually proud to "process" 85 screenplays in 3 hours. Eliminating some screenplays based ONLY on what was on the cover. In fact, bragging that she eliminated screenplays because the writer DIDN'T live in LA? Wow!



              Yes, good screenplays are found as Jeff pointed out. But I assure you, just as good screenplays are found, good screenplays are over-looked.



              As I said before, I agree that there are times when a good or a bad writer can be identified quickly. Even in 3-10 pages. That doesn't justify a competition eliminating a sceenplay by ONLY what is on the cover.



              Heres a question: Suppose the number of screenplays are doubled? Instead of getting 6,000 screenplays, a contest gets 12,000? Are they going to double their reading resources? No. They are going to read LESS of the screenplay, and accept the windfall of cash coming in.


              And that is what is happening. Nicholl (a classy organization) had to limit submissions to 3 screenplays per entrant. Otherwise, I would have entered 5 in their competition, and no doubt they would have had 8-10k submissions this year.


              Given the situation, I think Nicholl made a good call. I don't see other competitions going that direction. I see them just accepting the 12k submissions, and not even pretending to read the screenplays.



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              • #67
                Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
                Heres a question: Suppose the number of screenplays are doubled? Instead of getting 6,000 screenplays, a contest gets 12,000? Are they going to double their reading resources? No. They are going to read LESS of the screenplay, and accept the windfall of cash coming in.

                And that is what is happening. Nicholl (a classy organization) had to limit submissions to 3 screenplays per entrant. Otherwise, I would have entered 5 in their competition, and no doubt they would have had 8-10k submissions this year.

                Given the situation, I think Nicholl made a good call. I don't see other competitions going that direction. I see them just accepting the 12k submissions, and not even pretending to read the screenplays.
                Sorry, Ken, once again what you've posted about the Nicholl competition is not correct.

                We did not limit submissions to three per entrant in order to cut down the total number of submissions. If memory serves, that would have amounted to several hundred scripts fewer in the last year of unlimited entries.

                If the Nicholl competition had a greater number of entries, we would hire more readers. (If entries doubled, the following year the final deadline would probably move a month earlier.)

                Over the past decade, the cost of reading has remained about equal to the total amount of the entry fees. Prize money and other costs far exceed the cost of reading.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                  Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
                  2. Talent is not the only (and possibly not the most important) factor involved in who gets the paying gigs.
                  Originally posted by KenRichards
                  The solution is simple: shoot ENTRENCHED screenwriters on sight.
                  God damn do I want to live in this world. I've been doing this for a lot of years, have had some success, and I still kill myself to get every new job. Pre-pitches, pitches to the producer, notes on the pitches from the producer, more practice, more rehearsal until you've practically broken the whole thing before you pitch to the studio... and then you're one of three (if you're lucky) or a dozen people in there pitching.

                  And then - every job can eliminate a buyer. If you bone an assignment (or they think you do!), that producer is never going to put you up for a job again, because you just slowed down or killed their project. Same from the studios. And since all the mid level studios are dead, there are about six major buyers, so every time you burn a bridge you kill fifteen percent of your employers.

                  And then - even if you do a great job - if the movie bombs, you can still be in trouble.

                  And on top of all that... you fight to get your quote up, and then it works against you. Do they hire you, or do they hire a guy that costs 20% as much as you do? Are you really worth it? Or are you priced out of your next job?

                  Again, I wish I lived in this beautiful place where "entrenched" writers just get hired over and over again while everyone else is shut out. If someone can figure out how to get to this place, please let me know.

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                  • #69
                    Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                    God damn do I want to live in this world. I've been doing this for a lot of years, have had some success, and I still kill myself to get every new job. Pre-pitches, pitches to the producer, notes on the pitches from the producer, more practice, more rehearsal until you've practically broken the whole thing before you pitch to the studio... and then you're one of three (if you're lucky) or a dozen people in there pitching.

                    And then - every job can eliminate a buyer. If you bone an assignment (or they think you do!), that producer is never going to put you up for a job again, because you just slowed down or killed their project. Same from the studios. And since all the mid level studios are dead, there are about six major buyers, so every time you burn a bridge you kill fifteen percent of your employers.

                    And then - even if you do a great job - if the movie bombs, you can still be in trouble.

                    And on top of all that... you fight to get your quote up, and then it works against you. Do they hire you, or do they hire a guy that costs 20% as much as you do? Are you really worth it? Or are you priced out of your next job?


                    Again, I wish I lived in this beautiful place where "entrenched" writers just get hired over and over again while everyone else is shut out. If someone can figure out how to get to this place, please let me know.
                    Jeff, you almost scared me back to my unpublished novelist roots!
                    sigpic http://blip.fm/Peasblossom

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                    • #70
                      Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                      Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
                      Sorry, Ken, once again what you've posted about the Nicholl competition is not correct.

                      We did not limit submissions to three per entrant in order to cut down the total number of submissions. If memory serves, that would have amounted to several hundred scripts fewer in the last year of unlimited entries.

                      If the Nicholl competition had a greater number of entries, we would hire more readers. (If entries doubled, the following year the final deadline would probably move a month earlier.)

                      Over the past decade, the cost of reading has remained about equal to the total amount of the entry fees. Prize money and other costs far exceed the cost of reading.

                      Well, I guess my reply wasn't my last.


                      Sorry Greg. Seems I do get a few things wrong when I bring your organization into our little debates and I apologize for that. Maybe I should stop doing that.




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                      • #71
                        Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                        Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                        God damn do I want to live in this world. I've been doing this for a lot of years, have had some success, and I still kill myself to get every new job. Pre-pitches, pitches to the producer, notes on the pitches from the producer, more practice, more rehearsal until you've practically broken the whole thing before you pitch to the studio... and then you're one of three (if you're lucky) or a dozen people in there pitching.

                        And then - every job can eliminate a buyer. If you bone an assignment (or they think you do!), that producer is never going to put you up for a job again, because you just slowed down or killed their project. Same from the studios. And since all the mid level studios are dead, there are about six major buyers, so every time you burn a bridge you kill fifteen percent of your employers.

                        And then - even if you do a great job - if the movie bombs, you can still be in trouble.

                        And on top of all that... you fight to get your quote up, and then it works against you. Do they hire you, or do they hire a guy that costs 20% as much as you do? Are you really worth it? Or are you priced out of your next job?

                        Again, I wish I lived in this beautiful place where "entrenched" writers just get hired over and over again while everyone else is shut out. If someone can figure out how to get to this place, please let me know.

                        Jeff, my quote that you have there was meant to be a joke. As I mentioned in the original post, I don't think there is a solution outside of altering the entire Hollywood business model.


                        Certainly I believe that there are enormously talented writers in Hollywood. And that they get work on a regular basis. But I also believe...


                        Well, I won''t restate my position here.

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                        • #72
                          Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                          Yes! No extra period. Nicely done.







                          .

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                          • #73
                            Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                            Originally posted by KenRichards View Post
                            As I mentioned in the original post, I don't think there is a solution outside of altering the entire Hollywood business model.
                            The one that keeps having record year after record year at the box office?*

                            I think that's going to be a hard sell.






                            *Yes, the DVD market ate shit in the last few years for various reasons, mainly technological and the Netflix easy rental model.

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                            • #74
                              Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                              Originally posted by LeadSolo View Post
                              Yes! No extra period. Nicely done.







                              .

                              Not enough white space without it. I'm obsessed with white on the page. LOL

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                              • #75
                                Re: Confessions of a Contest Judge

                                Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                                The one that keeps having record year after record year at the box office?*

                                I think that's going to be a hard sell.




                                *Yes, the DVD market ate shit in the last few years for various reasons, mainly technological and the Netflix easy rental model.
                                By the way Jeff, your mail box is full.



                                There is no doubt Hollywood is a unique industry. In economic terms, it is called an "inelastic" (I believe) market. It doesn't matter if the world is falling apart, people go to the movies. Kind of like drugs. People are addicted to it, so the market will never go away. It almost doesn't even matter the quality, people go to the movies. Or they watch TV.


                                Of course "quality" means more money. But more than what? Even when the quality and the times are bad, the biggies are still rolling in money.

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