My Black List Experience

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  • #91
    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post

    Just to be clear in all caps: THERE ARE A FEW CONTESTS/FELLOWSHIPS THAT ARE PROBABLY WORTH ENTERING.
    Okay then. You were mistaken. You don’t agree with Bono 100%.

    Yes, there are contests that are not worth entering. This is why a writer needs to do research before entering a contest. Nicholl and Austin are the top contests, but there are other contests that have been valuable to writers. Done Deal member slupo obtain representation from winning the trackingb competition. There are other members who have obtained representation from contests other than the top 3.

    Yes, the majority of working writers didn’t break in through contests, though there is no doubt some did, so why discourage a writer from taking that route if he doesn’t solely rely on contests?

    Jeff, I’m surprised you knocked my list of Nicholl winners because they were, as you said, “going back, what, 25 or 30 years?”

    You know there are some Nicholl Fellowship winners who are obtaining representation and work to this day.

    For example, take Done Deal member Wenonah Wilms. In 2001, she was a 30 year-old stay-at-home mom raising 3 young boys in Minneapolis when she got inspired to write screenplays. Over 17 years she wrote 22 screenplays. For the first 16 years, she entered 12 screenplays into the Nicholl and other contests.

    This is the type of writer Bono was talking about feeling sad for, who entered contests over and over again, but her persistence and her belief in herself paid off where she was a 2018 Nicholl Fellowship winner for her script titled: “Horsehead Girls.” She received $35,000 and an agent at UTA.

    After her win and receiving top representation, and now that her boys are all grown up, she was thinking of moving to LA for her screenwriting career.

    Sure, for the majority of the 5,000 to 8,000 writers entering contests, only a small amount will turn that quarterfinals and higher advancement into obtaining representation and work. So, this is why it’s suggested to writers to use as many routes as possible to break in.

    If Wenonah was discourage from entering contests, she may well be still sitting in Minneapolis writing query letters.
    Last edited by JoeNYC; 01-26-2021, 11:48 AM.

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    • #92
      For everyone else that can hear me -- I'm literally encouraging writers to believe in themselves and not just do contests forever -- and that is upsetting to some members.

      I didn't say NEVER enter a contest. But it's easy to hear what you want to hear.

      I don't think you can find a many pro screenwriters who never entered a contest. But they didn't become pros because of those contests.

      I don't know why some members try so hard to not get simple points.

      Comment


      • #93
        I bet Wenonah was ALSO writing query letters AND entering contests...

        https://www.wenonahwrites.com/

        According to this she won many contests and had many things produced, so this doesn't really hold up as Nicholl was reason she was "discovered" since she had success long before 2018.

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        • #94
          Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post
          Okay then. You were mistaken. You don’t agree with Bono 100%.
          Neither Bono nor I said never to enter a contest. I agree with his analysis of the relative worth of contests as a way of breaking in.

          You sent your teen romcom out to multiple professional readers, then paid for three evaluations from the blacklist, and now you're going to nine contests. IMO, that's a waste of money and time. If you had a screenplay you loved and were sending it in to Nicholl, Austin and trackingb while you were also trying to get it to agents, managers, producers and executives, no rational person would say "boo."

          And it looks like Bono was ahead of the curve with Wenonah Wilms's story. It looks like she had at least five short films produced before her win with Nicholl. That's not someone who sits behind her desk and fires scripts into contests. That's someone who's hustling and busting her ass to break in.

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          • #95
            Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post

            Neither Bono nor I said never to enter a contest.

            You sent your teen romcom out to multiple professional readers, then paid for three evaluations from the blacklist, and now you're going to nine contests. IMO, that's a waste of money and time.
            What does the following statement from Bono imply: "I get sad when writers of 10 plus year experience are still entering Nicholl or any contest over and over again... I just don't think that's the way in."

            Jeff, you said you agree with this statement 100%. 100% means fully, not partly with later stating, well there are a few contests worth entering. I showed with Dues, Wenonah and I'm sure there are others that this statement is bunk. Sorry, Bono, I do get the spirit of your post, but as articulated, it seemed harsh to the 10 plus year writers.

            Jeff, you bring up entering 9 contests as a waste of money. You know that I mentioned in previous posts it was only to do research on contests to write a thread at the end of the 2021 contest season. You don't have to worry about me financially. I have the money. I've never entered a screenplay in more than 3 to 5 contests. Last year I entered my "American Slaves" screenplay in 4 contests. With the negativity from sc111, I'm not going to do a thread on contests, so I won't be entering 9 contests.

            You bring up the Black List as added with other things like contests and professional reviews that it was a waste of money. Using the Black List wasn't for feedback. I believe using the Black List for feedback is a waste. I used the Black List to market my screenplay, but it failed to garner the needed overall average score of 8 to go out on the e-mail list to the industry professionals. This is what you and Bono advocate, didn't you? Be active.

            As for the professional readers, I posted in the ANNOUCEMENT forum for three comedy writers to swap feedback with for my teen romantic comedy. I had 100 views, but not one member asked to swap feedback, so I was forced to pay for professional feedback. When I posted my action adventure for feedback, there were 300 views, but only one gave me feedback. Cyfress was gracious to volunteer his time and energy to give me in-depth, thought out notes. Thank you, Cyfress.

            Edited to add: trackingb contest is not one of the top three. It's one of the top 10, but not 3.

            In my opinion, the top 5 contests are: Nicholl, Austin, Page, Launch Pad and Final Draft.

            Comment


            • #96
              Joe -- You can talk to me directly if you want too, but I think Jeff is a good PR man for me.

              If Mickey Fisher had listened to Joe's advice and only entered the top 5 contests Joe listed in post #95, he never would have won Trackingb Contest and launched his career. See I can play this game too Joe!

              I'm just trying to encourage all writers to push themselves. That's all. Enter all the contests you like Joe. You call it "harsh" I call it "tough love". I think you should query one of those scripts to reps. Or the next one you finish. You've gotten enough feedback to prove you should take that next step. If you want to do contests AND query, go for it. But I'm simply saying, I want you and others to make it. And to make it, you have to try all avenues. Not just one. And contests are only one way in. And a way I don't think is the best way.

              But honestly you are going to do what you want. I'm really talking to the other writers reading this post that haven't made up their mind or become a pro writer already like Jeff.

              Comment


              • #97
                Originally posted by Bono View Post

                If Mickey Fisher had listened to Joe's advice and only entered the top 5 contests Joe listed in post #95, he never would have won Trackingb Contest and launched his career. See I can play this game too Joe!

                I think you should query one of those scripts to reps.
                When I mentioned those 5 top contests, I'm not saying those are the contests to enter. Previously, I mentioned that a writer must research contests to see which one is best for the screenplay he has. For example, some contests are good for high concept scripts and not low concept, and vice versa. Part of my research and the thread on contests would have gone over this aspect, but I lost the enthusiasm for that contest topic.

                Jeff also mentioned that I should at least query while I enter contests. In fact, finalact4 also suggested this is what I should do, but I'm trying to be patient. My teen romantic comedy concept is not high concept, so it would be tough to garner interest from an industry person through a cold query letter. I would like to have some heat attached to the script and query letter, such as an advancement in a respectable and credible big contest.

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                • #98
                  You don't get heat from a script contest except a small few may help. Plenty of managers/agents have said they barely look at Nicholl finalists or care. That's how little some of these top contests mean to the Hollywood Players. They frame it like everyone cares, but that's not true.

                  You've got to generate your own heat. That's the key to this argument.

                  Actually what first helped me was I queried my spec on a Sunday to a producer we all heard of and he responded in one hour and wanted to make the movie. So of course that never happened and didn't get option money -- long story -- but his name opened a lot of doors in my query letters. Not all doors. Mostly it gave me confidence to keep pushing the script.

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                  • #99
                    Originally posted by Bono View Post

                    Plenty of managers/agents have said they barely look at Nicholl finalists or care. That's how little some of these top contests mean to the Hollywood Players.
                    This is not the take I get from managers/agents, but if it is true, then I'm screwed.

                    Bono, you keep pushing queries. The concept/logline is the king/heart of the query letter. For a great majority of industry professionals looking at query letters, they are looking for a unique high concept pitch. Anything less, especially without being vetted, does not interest them. Developing a writer is expensive and takes up a lot of their resources. It takes away their time and energy toward the writer clients they already have. So, for them to take on another writer, first the concept must be an eye opener, and then the requested script must be executed well.

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                    • Listen, I'm just using that as an example of how little most contests mean to reps vs referrals. Even if they read every Nicholl Finalist, still low odds of that being you or me. So it's a little hyperbole on my end to make my point.

                      My current rep read 2 things I wrote and wanted to write something new together as he liked my voice. So sometimes it's about the next idea.

                      But yes that's why Jeff and I also said (and others) that high concept ideas help you in every way. At every point in scriptland, it's about the idea.

                      Anyway -- I feel you're looking for reasons not to query at this time. So no matter what anyone says, that will be your conclusion that it doesn't work for you even though you are literally rewriting a romantic comedy, one of the most popular genres ever.

                      I guess my question would be, what's the harm? You send out 100 queries and see what happens?

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Bono View Post

                        I guess my question would be, what's the harm? You send out 100 queries and see what happens?
                        I understand this point. It's just that I'm no longer an anxious newbie. I'd like to be patient and make sure I get the query to be as strong as possible.

                        One added strength is being able to say it advanced in a big contest. That's all. There is no deadline to rush a query out. If anyone, or I had a unique high concept and the writer's feedback said the screenplay is strong, then sure, there's no need to wait for results of a contest. Send out the queries.

                        Comment


                        • Some things to consider...
                          • your script needs to appeal to the contest's preferences
                          • knowing what those preferences are will save you time, and more importantly, money
                          • contests can be a way into the industry, but they are by no means a guarantee
                          • in contests you are competing with amateurs, forget the top 20% you need to be in under the top 5%
                          • keep it real-- what contests offer you is an opportunity-- that's what winning MEANS
                          • either you can write or you can't. full stop. knowing that should sustain your efforts
                          • if you don't know you can write, you have work to do... then again, there's always work to do
                          • my third screenplay was a semi in a contest-- zero reads, zero leads...
                          • what works? placing in the top 5 of first tier contests, winning a fellowship, finding a mentor, querying producers and managers, networking with other writers, working in production, networking at industry functions, tweeting, facebooking, keeping an open mind, taking classes, getting an internship if you're not an adult with financial responsibilities, hard work, perseverance... they ALL work.
                          I agree with sc111 doing well in a contest doesn't mean you're a good writer and not placing in a contest doesn't mean you're not a good writer. It's subjective. It's one person(s) opinion. Think about how many movies some people love and some hate. It's that.

                          If you don't know anyone in the industry, I know, it sucks. But keep trying. If you believe, you keep trying. Be realistic. Yes, for sure. But also dream about what you want. Chase it.

                          You have one life to live and once you're dead, who gives a fuck what anyone else thinks?
                          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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                          • Joe you said, above:

                            With the negativity from sc111, I'm not going to do a thread on contests, so I won't be entering 9 contests.
                            Negativity?

                            I addressed your statement that you were entering 9 contests as a service to the Done Deal community -- a survey of sorts -- to share what you learned to help new writers and keep the boards alive.

                            I questioned if this effort at community service would be appreciated by members after spending that amount of money. You know -- like opening a soup kitchen for the down and out, financed out of your own pocket, then no one shows up and the soup goes sour.

                            Mine is just one anonymous opinion in digital world. Don't let me stop you from your 9-contest plan.

                            As for my general comments on contests -- these are conclusions I came to for myself, alone, based on my one experience plus what I've learned from others' contest experiences. From these conclusions, I formed opinions and shared them as others have, here.

                            I have no idea why you were so personally offended by me. You say you want to keep the board alive with discussions. Well, discussions lead to different opinions yet when opinions differ from yours, you take it personally.

                            And as I think about it, you regularly say you're putting in effort for the new and young writers on Done Deal. Yet more often than not, the members who join discussions are, in terms of screenwriting, shall we say long-in-the-tooth. The people participating in this thread include a pro writer and writers who have or had reps and other types of successes.

                            (New and young writers! If you're listening -- jump into the discussions, will ya! Show Joe some appreciation for his efforts!)
                            Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Bono View Post

                              Sorry one of them might have been my review.


                              Sorry I missed this earlier comment LOL! Maybe you did review it -- the title I entered in Blue Cat was: Keep Your Legs Crossed. A comedy/rom com. Does it ring a bell?
                              Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                              Comment


                              • No I didn't read yours. I just looked it up and found that I read 6 scripts not 2 like i recalled. 2 out of 6 got a high score from me. But my high score could be 4 points lower than your high score. I love your dialogue and I give it an 8 and you might give it a 9 or a 7 and feel the same way. It's interesting to look at it now and read old contest reviews about my own scripts.

                                But the top scripts I really enjoyed I gave a 48 and 46 too, but it was out of 60 -- so that means lesser script could have gotten higher scores from other judges as it's all subjective and the same set of readers aren't reading every single script. So you can see how easily and how random it can be. You can have a great script -- and a reader that hates it. Or you can have a bad script and a reader that loves it. So that's why I say the real contest is if you give your script to someone and they say, not only do I like it, I want to work with you on trying to get it sold and made.

                                In fact to prove everything is subjective -- I'm reading an Ebert book that has his reviews of movies he didn't like and just today I see a review on a movie a Done Dealer made.

                                My dream is to get a movie made and get 10% on Rotten Tomatoes because that means at least it existed as a movie people can hate!

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