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

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  • #16
    Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

    Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
    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).
    Thanks, Greg.

    This is basically what I felt was the right thing to do, and it's great to have the confirmation that I'll be fine.

    After entering, I'll let the script rest for a while, and then I will decide if I can enter it as is (or with minor rewrites) into the Nicholl Fellowships competition or if it needs more work (or if I have new ideas) and enter it taking advantage of the late deadline.

    In regards to the late deadline: I always heard that entering earlier is better, as readers are getting increasingly spaced out the more scripts they have read. A late entry would decrease the chance of placing well, because the readers have gone insane. Do you think this is - to use a Larry David-ism - pretty, pretty, pretty correct - or another one of those internet ghost stories?
    Last edited by Ulysses; 03-31-2014, 11:22 AM.
    "Ecco il grande Zampano!"

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    • #17
      Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

      I'd like to add a few comments about polishing a script, as I think some of the posters and I have a different idea about what a polish is.

      In my book, checking spelling and grammar isn't a polish. It's something you have to do, and it doesn't take that long.

      A polish for me is that the story flows well, that the idea comes out well, and that there are no scenes in there that blunt the script. Polished, in my book, is that you have full control over your characters, and everything they do and say is in line with what I plan. At the same time, I know that you can overpolish, and wear out a script through rewrites. Been there, done that.

      Lack of polish would be that the story works, but there may be a bump. A certain lack of elegance in some areas. Some transitions may not be right. Some scenes get the idea across, but could be better. But no logical errors, no awful dialogue, no scenes that don't belong into the script, no overly long scenes, and as many words cut as possible.

      This is what my reflections are based on:

      Years ago, I used to do walk-on parts in theater and opera. I would be present through all the rehearsals, and I saw the difference between a good and a bad director.

      A good director started rough. You could see big holes in the performance, but you could see cores, around which the performance was starting to crystallize. It was this searching, testing, trial and error direction, led by a great mind, that led to a great performance. I'd say even in an early stage these performances were far superior to the polished performances of the average directors.

      The bad director would start out conventional, but OK, and to the untrained eye his play would look pretty good from the start. But every additional rehearsal would just iron and iron and not add any ideas. The final product was smooth as a stone in a riverbed, and perfectly bland. The actors were worn out by repeating actions and words without the search of the expression.

      And I think this is the danger of polishing a screenplay too much. You sometimes kill the edges that make it exciting.

      So, in doubt, I'd rather have some rough edges, but the spirit of the screenplay is there. Any professional will see that even if he'd like to rip out one or the other pages, make a paper airplane out of it, put it on fire and shoot it out the window so it could set fire to the neighbor's lawn - even such a reader - if he's a good one - will see the strong parts.

      I think trying to be perfect it the worst an artist can do. It will lead to easy to defend work with no actual merits.
      "Ecco il grande Zampano!"

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      • #18
        Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

        Originally posted by Ulysses View Post
        In regards to the late deadline: I always heard that entering earlier is better, as readers are getting increasingly spaced out the more scripts they have read. A late entry would decrease the chance of placing well, because the readers have gone insane. Do you think this is - to use a Larry David-ism - pretty, pretty, pretty correct - or another one of those internet ghost stories?
        Another internet ghost story.

        This was just asked on the Academy Nicholl Facebook page, so I checked 2013 -

        Scripts entered in January through April 1, 2013 advanced to the quarterfinals in numbers slightly less than expected. Scripts entered from April 2 through May 1 advanced to the quarterfinals in numbers slightly greater than expected. (In each case the difference was slight - about two percent down for the earlier entries; about two percent up for the later entries.)

        Year to year, the numbers vary slightly - but early or late entry, your chances of advancing remain about the same.

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        • #19
          Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

          Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
          Another internet ghost story.

          This was just asked on the Academy Nicholl Facebook page, so I checked 2013 -

          Scripts entered in January through April 1, 2013 advanced to the quarterfinals in numbers slightly less than expected. Scripts entered from April 2 through May 1 advanced to the quarterfinals in numbers slightly greater than expected. (In each case the difference was slight - about two percent down for the earlier entries; about two percent up for the later entries.)

          Year to year, the numbers vary slightly - but early or late entry, your chances of advancing remain about the same.
          Thanks, Greg, for this powerful exorcism!
          "Ecco il grande Zampano!"

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          • #20
            Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

            Originally posted by Ulysses View Post
            In regards to the late deadline: I always heard that entering earlier is better, as readers are getting increasingly spaced out the more scripts they have read. A late entry would decrease the chance of placing well, because the readers have gone insane.
            I sat in on a panel where a producer said the opposite. Her feeling was the scripts that come in early aren't as polished than the people who take right up until the deadline to work on their's. So after rounds of boring reads, the excellent ones stood out that much more.

            Both stories are probably just based more on gut feeling and, as pointed out earlier, the math doesn't prove out, but interesting to hear two mutually exclusive ideas put out as the gospel truth.

            I put my scripts in when they're ready. If that's on the first day, I put it in then. If I take the whole time, I take the whole time. Ready in the middle, put it in then. Better than forgetting and letting the deadline slip.

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            • #21
              Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

              If you're a good and imaginative writer with a sound sense of storytelling and a compelling viewpoint, your unpolished work will be a lot better than the "polished" work of somebody with no talent. When I was in college I wrote a script in 3-4 weeks and submitted it to a major contest without any real revisions. It ended up placing in the finals, getting me a nice little paycheck, and attracting a fair amount of heat.

              As the other poster said, it's not about outrunning the bear. It's about outrunning the other campers. And if you've done your fair share of reading at places like Triggerstreet, you shouldn't be too intimidated by the quality of your opposition. If you've got a script that you like and you feel good about its merits, I say let it fly. There's nothing to be lost by submitting a rough draft to a contest apart from the entry fee.

              My biggest successes in contests have been scripts that were rough around the edges, but had standout qualities. If the dialogue, action, concept, and/or characters are great then people will see that even if the overall vehicle is a little clunky.

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              • #22
                Re: Would you enter screenplay in a competition that's not polished?

                Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
                If you're a good and imaginative writer with a sound sense of storytelling and a compelling viewpoint, your unpolished work will be a lot better than the "polished" work of somebody with no talent.
                Sorry, but I kind of hate this mindset. You shouldn't be competing against what you think is the bottom of the barrel. You should be working for a script that even if it wasn't in a contest, people would be excited to finish it.

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