Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

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  • Friday
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
    Over the years, thrillers have done quite well in the Nicholl competition, and a number have earned fellowships for their writers.

    If you visit the Nicholl ceremonies page, you can read log lines for winners going back a number of years and for finalists for a few years.
    Cool. Thanks Greg.

    Leave a comment:


  • nguyensquared
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    I think this may be more due to the fewer number of entries in the Thriller category in general. There's a fascinating infographic that breaks down the scripts by genre in past years on the Nicholl's Facebook page:

    https://www.facebook.com/NichollFellowships/

    I believe Dramas generally make up something like over 40% of the total submissions (Greg can correct me here), which tend to incorporate more of those "human interest" components you mentioned.

    Originally posted by ScreenRider View Post
    Thrillers are a minority of the winners though. Even when genre scripts win or place, they seem to have some other element, like a female lead in a traditionally male role, racial or contemporary issue.

    I get the feeling that a thriller, no matter how good the concept or execution, would have a hard time getting noticed without these added elements.

    Leave a comment:


  • ScreenRider
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
    Over the years, thrillers have done quite well in the Nicholl competition, and a number have earned fellowships for their writers.

    If you visit the Nicholl ceremonies page, you can read log lines for winners going back a number of years and for finalists for a few years.
    Thrillers are a minority of the winners though. Even when genre scripts win or place, they seem to have some other element, like a female lead in a traditionally male role, racial or contemporary issue.

    I get the feeling that a thriller, no matter how good the concept or execution, would have a hard time getting noticed without these added elements.

    Leave a comment:


  • gregbeal
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Originally posted by Friday View Post
    I keep reading this opinion on many different forums and message boards that Nicholl is not interested in your commercial thriller. Is that true? That type of fare does better with Page, Final Draft and Screencraft. Certainly, I hope that's not the case, since not every writer even knows how to write a Greg Allman/Cher biopic and their passion is in thrillers or action....but, I've seen that comment said so many times of many boards (other than Done Deal) that I just had to ask that question.
    Over the years, thrillers have done quite well in the Nicholl competition, and a number have earned fellowships for their writers.

    If you visit the Nicholl ceremonies page, you can read log lines for winners going back a number of years and for finalists for a few years.

    Leave a comment:


  • gregbeal
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Originally posted by nguyensquared View Post
    Would "based on a person's life" be considered an adaptation under the Nicholl's guidelines? I can see how something like that could fall under some scrutiny since you can't be sure how much the writer really contributed versus what was taken from source material.

    Heard about you passing the torch, Greg. You'll be missed for sure! I had the pleasure of seeing both you and Matt Dy in person at the AFF event held in the Linwood Dunn Theater last year.
    Thanks for the kind words.

    No, basing a script on a person's life is not an adaptation - unless your script were based on a single source about that person. So long as a script is based on multiple sources and doesn't rely heavily on one source, it should not be considered an adaptation.

    Leave a comment:


  • nguyensquared
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    I'm skeptical that this is the case. I'm a reader for a few contests and the pile is daunting to say the least. Good material will rise to the top regardless relatively speaking, and what really makes one script more engaging than the other is often genre agnostic from my experience. As an aside, "engagement" can mean great concept as well as great craft (preferably both).

    That being said, there's no reason why a high-concept commercial thriller can't be as engaging as its lower-concept character-driven ilk (if you have a high-concept AND strong characters, that's screenwriting gold)

    Originally posted by Friday View Post
    I keep reading this opinion on many different forums and message boards that Nicholl is not interested in your commercial thriller. Is that true? That type of fare does better with Page, Final Draft and Screencraft. Certainly, I hope that's not the case, since not every writer even knows how to write a Greg Allman/Cher biopic and their passion is in thrillers or action....but, I've seen that comment said so many times of many boards (other than Done Deal) that I just had to ask that question.

    Leave a comment:


  • nguyensquared
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Would "based on a person's life" be considered an adaptation under the Nicholl's guidelines? I can see how something like that could fall under some scrutiny since you can't be sure how much the writer really contributed versus what was taken from source material.

    Heard about you passing the torch, Greg. You'll be missed for sure! I had the pleasure of seeing both you and Matt Dy in person at the AFF event held in the Linwood Dunn Theater last year.

    Originally posted by gregbeal View Post
    As some folks may know, I've retired and so no longer have any connection to the Nicholl competition. Still, I have some sense of what scripts reached the finals over the years - and overwhelmingly they were not biopics.

    On the following Nicholl list, "historically based" refers to scripts dealing with historical figures and events and not to scripts set in the past featuring fictional central characters.

    2017 - three of 10 finalists historically based.
    2016 - one of 12 finalists historically based.
    2015 - zero of 12.
    2014 - three of 10 (though it's a stretch to include US of F-ing Awesome).
    2013 - two of 10.
    2012 - two of 10.
    2011 - zero of 10.
    2010 - one of 10 (though the one is a fantasy adventure that features historical figures).
    2009 - one of ten.
    2008 - one of ten.

    Of the 14, only the Judith Regan/O.J. Simpson and Ted Bundy scripts could have life rights issues. Since the latter is in production, rights issues must have been solved.

    Leave a comment:


  • Friday
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    I keep reading this opinion on many different forums and message boards that Nicholl is not interested in your commercial thriller. Is that true? That type of fare does better with Page, Final Draft and Screencraft. Certainly, I hope that's not the case, since not every writer even knows how to write a Greg Allman/Cher biopic and their passion is in thrillers or action....but, I've seen that comment said so many times of many boards (other than Done Deal) that I just had to ask that question.

    Leave a comment:


  • catcon
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    What a thread!

    As for me? It's good to be poor. None of these fests or contests are an option for me these days.

    Just this week, for instance, it came down to tossing something to the Nicholl for their early bird deadline (I've never had a placement, in a dozen submissions), or the copyright registration of my latest. The script is already out there being read, as a result of aggressive pitching.

    I decided I better do the copyright, both to keep my lawyer happy and to keep my eye on the ball - that this is a business, not a gold ribbon chasing event.

    Leave a comment:


  • grumpywriter
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    I had the same exact experience at the same pitch fest you are talking about. For one pitch, the only thing the junior exec and I talked about was how long it took to drive from SF to LA and the best way to do it. I don't think any of the execs are really there expecting to find a great script, and even if they did, there isn't much they can do to get it made or get traction. Here's the thing -- it's not just that, like you said, EVERYONE has a script — the taxi driver, the restaurant hostess, your gardener — it's that everyone ALREADY WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY has a script, too — the producer you're pitching to at the pitch fest, the director you want to send your script to, the director's agent, the director's assistant, the director's assistant's step-sister, the director's agent's assistant, the agent's assistant's little brother, who just graduated from USC film school, his girlfriend, etc... and they already have tons of contacts and are plugged in and they're writing pretty good scripts at that. If you magically obliterated the entire amateur screenwriting community today and millions of scripts it generates per year, Hollywood wouldn't even notice and its working producers and directors would still have enough material for three lifetimes. THAT's the cold hard truth. But it doesn't mean it's impossible — it's ALMOST impossible, but so much is luck, and I agree that script contests/pitch fests are not really a means to "break in" so much as just motivation to finish a script and get one particular person's (whichever reader it's assigned to) opinion on it.
    Last edited by grumpywriter; 02-19-2018, 12:15 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • gregbeal
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Originally posted by EdFury View Post
    The Nicholl, which I don't understand because in my opinion they apparently only need you to write a biopic about someone you don't have life rights for to make the finals.
    As some folks may know, I've retired and so no longer have any connection to the Nicholl competition. Still, I have some sense of what scripts reached the finals over the years - and overwhelmingly they were not biopics.

    On the following Nicholl list, "historically based" refers to scripts dealing with historical figures and events and not to scripts set in the past featuring fictional central characters.

    2017 - three of 10 finalists historically based.
    2016 - one of 12 finalists historically based.
    2015 - zero of 12.
    2014 - three of 10 (though it's a stretch to include US of F-ing Awesome).
    2013 - two of 10.
    2012 - two of 10.
    2011 - zero of 10.
    2010 - one of 10 (though the one is a fantasy adventure that features historical figures).
    2009 - one of ten.
    2008 - one of ten.

    Of the 14, only the Judith Regan/O.J. Simpson and Ted Bundy scripts could have life rights issues. Since the latter is in production, rights issues must have been solved.

    Leave a comment:


  • purplenurple
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    I very much enjoy my old post mentioned and the wild thing about that pitchfest is that is only one aspect of it. Me befriending another wannabe writer for a day was only the tip of the ice berg. The entire event was nuts. Here are some more observations that I hope entertain you about the pitchfest (not to be confused with VP). Now these observations might only be regulated to that one year and I can't say what it was like before or after. I also think they stopped doing it a few years ago.

    Here are some observations of that LA Pitchfest...

    1) They invite all of us regular people into a ballroom that is filled with tables and sign up sheets. We purchased 10 pitches (maybe it was more or less). The execs weren't in the room yet. The head of the fest said "On each desk is a company name and a sign up sheet. There is only so much space on each starting sheet. You have twenty minutes to sign up starting now!" Then everyone with an ounce of authority and common sense left the room. It was a free-for-all. It was like you see what a Black Friday sale is like on the news. I remember people vaulting over tables with an air of desperation that struck me as madness. A few times when I got to a sign up sheet it was filled. Also a few times I saw people etching out other people's names and putting their own. I only signed up about a third of the places I wanted to pitch to so I had to go to plan B and C and D. I was ill prepared for the notion I wouldn't be pitching to some of the places I traveled thousands of miles for.

    2) My first pitch was to a 23 year old intern/junior exec/development assistant who was physically stunning. She was getting a massage as I pitched to her. She loved the massage, but not-so my pitch. I remember her eyes being closed and occasionally cutting me off to direct the masseuse to a troubled spot. Sadly, I would have to deal with the massage distraction again later on. They had services for the execs like that.

    3) They had a line you could go on if you had free time between pitches in which you could get a free pitch with someone in the industry if no one was seated before them. Sometimes I had 2 hours between pitches so I'd get on this line and you'd be ushered to a industry "pro" with an empty seat before him/her. That's cool, right? Weeeeellll, not really. The problem was you'd blindly sit in front of someone who is not likely a fit. You have a Sci-Fi fantasy script? Now you're sitting in front of some associate producer who has done a nature show on penguins and is looking for ideas on squirrels (not animated ones). I did this a few times for practice then stopped. It didn't do anybody any good. I had horror-action scripts/premises. Instead of sitting with Lions Gate I was sitting in front of someone who works for Jennifer Love Hewett and is actively seeking a romantic comedy in the vein of "Just Friends."

    4) I saw one guy do pitches with his wife whom he dressed as Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and she looked very attractive. I don't know if it worked or not. Another guy dressed in a huge animal mascot costume. He ended up getting on the local news.

    5) One of my pitches got the attention of a creative exec.' He seemed to really like it. He wanted me to call him on Monday. I felt like I was walking on air. I go out in the hotel hallway and get back on the big line for people who are looking for free pitches. That particular exec' comes out with his entourage and walks toward me. He talks to me as I stand on line! He actually left the pitch fest to keep discussing my script with his assistants. He says he'll call me next week and we need to talk. A hundred heads turn and study me with a mixture of jealousy and envy. People ask me what my pitch is and want to read the script. I know better at this point so I'm guarded. It is assumed I hit it big time.

    *** I didn't. He did call me and he wanted to option it. Then a week later it fell through because he quit to become a writer himself. Aaaaahhhh! He was going to help me get an agent, but used this juice card on himself. Aaaahhh!

    6) I pitched to a guy with real producer credits. A guy who has done a horror film. Finally! I tell him my premise and the protagonists are Native American. He laughs, cuts me off and tells me to try another pitch. I get a sentence into the next pitch and he takes a phone call but tells me to continue pitching. He's not even making eye contact. I got up and walked away. I ended up doing that again when faced with an executive getting massage for the second time.

    7) You get 5 minutes for a pitch. It is timed. The moderators have a bell. Once the bell is sounded you need to leave your pitch because it is someone else's turn. If you overstay you are warned. It throws off the timing of the next person. This happened to me a few times. I'd come over to the table only for the person to be still there and trying to pitch ignoring the bell was rung. You'd stand there while everyone is seated and feel socially awkward. The moderators would frown. The executive at the table (most were interns or lowest rung execs) would look confused. But the person wasn't letting up. One time it was so awkward that when I finally sat down I didn't even pitch. For 3 minutes myself and the executive just talked about what a rude person that person was. And I paid for that. Another time I came over and the female pitching and the female executive listening were talking about a mutual friend. I ended up being told to go away.

    I just had to get those observations off my chest. In re-reading my observation from last year I felt there was so much more to say. The thing about LA is everyone has a script. The taxi driver has one under his seat. The waitress at the hotel bar. Such experiences made me learn that it is very difficult to scramble up the heap. Not impossible. It's as someone says you need to be championed. And as an above poster mentioned is there is so much love for Nicholls but seriously they don't want your horror script.

    I have a dozen weird stories of almost making it and run ins with celebrities, but I've written enough. Hope you enjoy the pitchfest observations.

    Leave a comment:


  • ClintW3
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    It is a seriously genius idea.

    Leave a comment:


  • EdFury
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Originally posted by ClintW3 View Post
    Ummm...are you using that?
    Be my guest. 😀

    Leave a comment:


  • ClintW3
    replied
    Re: Why I Hate Script Contests And So Should You

    Originally posted by EdFury View Post
    a biopic about the Cher and Greg Allman marriage
    Ummm...are you using that?

    Leave a comment:

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