Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

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  • Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

    I know, one wouldn't want to send a screenplay out that's not polished and as good as it could be.

    But what about a screenplay competition?

    I have a screenplay I feel has a strong story and a strong idea, but has a few hiccups in scene flow.

    I'd still like to enter it as it's a good contest of an institution, that's only open to students and ex-students, and I expect the numbers not to be so crazy high (and maybe a little bit more thought will be given to scripts that pass the first sniff test).

    So, would you say that entering a screenplay into a competition would prevent me to submit the polished version to the industry because it's "already been out there"?
    "Ecco il grande Zampano!"

  • #2
    Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

    You're wasting your time and money because it will be going up against scripts that are polished and ready. It's more than just a bit of hubris to think your script at 80% is better than other people's 100%.

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    • #3
      Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

      Originally posted by dave22 View Post
      It's more than just a bit of hubris to think your script at 80% is better than other people's 100%.
      Yeah, but his 80% just might be better than others' 100%, especially when most people's 100% is really more like 50%.

      However, if you know it could be better, Ulysses, then make it better. Work on it right up to the deadline.

      If you can't make it better in time, but if you think you have a shot and you're confident in it, then, yeah, you're only out some bucks.

      I'm out some bucks every time I hit the crack pipe, and it hasn't hurt me none.

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      • #4
        Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

        Originally posted by Ulysses View Post
        So, would you say that entering a screenplay into a competition would prevent me to submit the polished version to the industry because it's "already been out there"?
        Uh, no.

        Nobody in the industry is going to go back to a competition to find that version of the script if you've already submitted your polished version to them. Nor would they likely consider 7-8 competition readers (at most) having seen it as "already been out there".

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        • #5
          Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

          Ulysses:

          Surprised this needs to be said, but you always want to submit the best version of your work possible to anyone, be it a competition or an industry rep. If you want to enter it in the competition, then work right up until the deadline if you have to to make it presentable. If you want to send it to an industry pro, send them the most polished version you have; doesn't matter if a lesser version has already been entered in a contest.

          I did have an experience last year that was a bit of a fluke. I had a script that I wanted to enter into the Nicholl (after already submitting two). I actually finished writing it at the very last minute of the competition -- and I do mean the very last minute. I submitted it at exactly 12:02 a.m. PST.
          (A funny thing: I'm in NYC, and at 10:00 p.m. EST I was despairing over having only two hours left to write. Then I remembered the deadline was midnight PST, and thus I really had five more hours to work on it, lol).

          The next day, I read the script and realized that there were several typos, several scenes that could be better, and an entire flashback sequence that wasn't necessary. I figured it had the least chance out of the three of placing in the competition. Of course, it ended up being the only one to make the Quarterfinals. I chalk this up to overall strength in structure, story, and character development. This is likely because I have a tendency to spend a significant time upfront in the prep process, which often means I don't need to spend as much time in the rewrite process.

          I got lucky, but I don't plan to have the same thing happen again this year. I think my script could have made it to the Semifinals if I had spent more time fixing it, which would mean I might have gotten more requests from producers. This was partially confirmed by reader notes I received (a new thing from Nicholl last year), pointing out some of the obvious flaws I made, such as the flashback. As for the producers that did request the script after QFs were announced, you can bet that I sent them a revised and polished version.

          Bottom line: Always submit the best version you are able to to everyone.
          Last edited by UpandComing; 03-30-2014, 07:48 AM.
          "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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          • #6
            Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

            Having read for contests and prodcos in the past, I can say that obviously you try to read past typos.

            Which happen anyway.

            A was reading a friend of mine's script recently, and it was a great example of how a typo can hurt you. There was a typo on the first page, and then an aside to the reader which she intended as a joke, but in the context of coming a page after a typo, came off as lazy.

            It can only hurt you to have typos in your script. Those injuries are rarely fatal.

            Nobody in the industry is going to be aware that your script was entered into a contest unless it placed, or you tell them.

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            • #7
              Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

              Everybody seems to agree that entering a script in a competition doesn't count as it "having been out there".

              If I write another draft to be the final draft, I can still submit it to agents.

              So the worst case scenario is: it doesn't win. (there is no entry fee)

              In regards to "not polished": I can polish the script as is - and avoid awkward typos (those typos that are a real word and don't show up in the spell check, but change the meaning of a sentence)

              The reason of my concern: I'm basically putting in another floor. It'll be a new level of relationship between the main characters.

              On that new floor the elevator doors may be a bit sticky, and one or the other window may not open. The work crew may have left behind a few empty beer bottles and an abused copy of Hustler magazine. But the view should be fine.
              "Ecco il grande Zampano!"

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                A was reading a friend of mine's script recently, and it was a great example of how a typo can hurt you. There was a typo on the first page, and then an aside to the reader which she intended as a joke, but in the context of coming a page after a typo, came off as lazy.
                Great post.

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                • #9
                  Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                  try handing it it out first.

                  Solicit reads. Reads from your peers. And get their feedback --paying close mind to grammar issues rather than to story/plot notes (since you feel the story is strong enough as is) -- then submit to one with an adequate reputation, taking the results as nothing more than a learning experience.

                  Since you feel strong enough about your story, as is , then this can be deposited as a learning experience for you -- to see what's right, and/or wrong, with how you're delivering your stories.

                  the above is only to be considered as plan b

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                  • #10
                    Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                    I only enter my screenplays into competitions that are polished.

                    My website:www.marjorykaptanoglu.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                      Originally posted by Margie Kaptanoglu View Post
                      I only enter my screenplays into competitions that are polished.
                      Shoulda known Margie would be the one to run with that...

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                      • #12
                        Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                        Originally posted by DangoForth View Post
                        Shoulda known Margie would be the one to run with that...
                        Sorry, couldn't resist.

                        To answer the question, "Would you enter a screenplay that isn't polished into a competition?", I would say no. That's if by "polished" you mean checking carefully for spelling, grammar and format errors. I would never submit without doing that, as it doesn't take me much time. I'm being careful about those things as I go along anyway.

                        But if you are asking if I ever submit work that is not yet as good as I want it to be (or as I think I can make it), the answer is yes, if the deadline is right now and I have no more time and it's a significant contest. In that case I hope it's good enough and if not, I can always submit a hopefully improved version next year. But it's surprising how often my first version does better than later versions that I think are better, so what do I know?

                        My website:www.marjorykaptanoglu.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                          Would you enter a car that wasn't at top performance in a race?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                            Originally posted by UnequalProductions View Post
                            Would you enter a car that wasn't at top performance in a race?
                            you don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the guy you're sharing the tent with

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                            • #15
                              Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                              Originally posted by Ulysses View Post
                              . . . it's a good contest of an institution, that's only open to students and ex-students, and I expect the numbers not to be so crazy high (and maybe a little bit more thought will be given to scripts that pass the first sniff test).
                              Not sure how entering this competition could hurt you in any way, whatever the quality of your script. Especially when you mention no entry fee in a later post.

                              As was already noted, the industry won't know that you've entered and mostly won't realize if you place or win (unless you tell them).

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