Monday, June 15, 2009

A New Kind of Bit Rot

My screenplay Welcome To Akron, which quarterfinaled last year in the Blue Cat screenwriting competition (as well as quarterfinaling in the Austin Film Festival competition and Slamdance, and getting past the proposal phase of Sundance Lab), did not even quarterfinal in Blue Cat this year.

I didn't change one word in the script between the two submissions. Therefore, I blame cosmic ray interference with my script.

This is my own personal example of how capricious screenwriting competitions are. Had my script been assigned to a reader more favorable towards it (and at least one professional reader who has read it has called it one of the best scripts he's seen in years) than the one(s) who read it last year, I might have placed higher this year. Instead, it went to a reader who was less favorably disposed towards it than the reader(s) last year, and it went nowhere.

So remember: the money you apply towards screenwriting competitions should be no greater than what you'd be willing to wager in Vegas, because once you've achieved a level of competence as a writer, what then constitutes a great script rather than just a very good one varies greatly enough from one reader to the next that placing in a competition is as much a game of luck as of skill.


Max said...

Yes, I am very much done with script contests. There are two ways you can write a script: to sell in the open market or to win competitions. I became a screenwriter to sell scripts, not to win a dog and pony show. Most of the competitions are designed to earn revenue for the competitions, not to help the screenwriter. The very same exposure and access can be obtained by diligently expanding your contact network and reaching out to agents and producers.

I say this, of course, after 15 years of banging my head against a wall because it will feel so good when I finally stop.