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Trials and tribulations of writing for the market

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Suave View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 May 2018 at 7:51am
Originally posted by Joni Joni wrote:

I would say at a bare minimum, it's worth entering into some competitions. So many people who have been readers talk about how a VERY large percentage of screenplays submitted are not good. Formatted incorrectly, not well-researched, obviously didn't have outside readers help them determine faults, etc. Because of this, I'm always amazed at this comp - the talent level is so high and the majority here really work to get it right. But, I've seen in some screenwriting groups - there are a lot of people that don't want criticism, think they've written the next great thing, and will pay to submit it in competitions even though it's nowhere near ready. That is pleasantly surprising, because it gives newbies like me hope. 

I submitted in a small competition for screenplays no longer than 15 pages. Became one of the 5 finalists, and part of the prize was to have it read on stage by actors in front of a crowd at a film festival. It was comedy, and they crowd actually laughed when they were supposed to, and THAT was all I needed for the motivation to keep going. Winning best overall and audience choice was a bonus. While there, a very small local production company came up and gave me their card and asked to work with me on something in the future. Embarrassed

Enter some small comps, enter some big ones. Then, when you get some wins under your belt, you can hit up producers or agents, etc. There is a LOT of competition out there, BUT from what I've seen - people who actually have a talent (you do) stand out in the sea of those who don't- unless you give up first (because it can take just that right script in the right moment to make it happen). 

Maybe I'm still delusional about it. Maybe that's necessary. But I have always wanted to write screenplays and see my work come to life on the screen. I was always too scared to try, until short screenplay here after flash fiction. I bombed horribly on first one and only did marginally better on second. BUT, I finished a screenplay, and that gave me the courage to keep going. 

It's possible to break in, even if difficult- but in today's world with streaming services and more independent production companies than ever before, the odds are better than they've been in the past.



Sounds like you have a path!  I wish you all the luck in the world on it.  I have run into the ones, like you mention, that do not want criticism in the writing sections of NYCM.  This is my first screenplay contest, but seeing as I bought my software to do I will continue, I love a challenge, but I also like the "My God that is great" when someone reads a story, not many people read a script and know what is going on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Joni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 May 2018 at 8:00am
Originally posted by Suave Suave wrote:


Sounds like you have a path!  I wish you all the luck in the world on it.  I have run into the ones, like you mention, that do not want criticism in the writing sections of NYCM.  This is my first screenplay contest, but seeing as I bought my software to do I will continue, I love a challenge, but I also like the "My God that is great" when someone reads a story, not many people read a script and know what is going on.

That's definitely true. I hope you do keep going. Your first script was great and I'd love to see it expanded. And we'll probably get to see a second from you here too Wink

Just fyi- there's a good, well-regulated group on fb (I think it's London-based) called Bang2Writers. It's similar to here, in that everyone is supportive of each other and people will offer to read each other's full-length scripts or exchange or whatever. It's also got regular tips, articles, etc. Screenplays definitely aren't for the masses to read lol, but that's a good place to find at least some readers. -- edited to add: that group is one of my favorites because it's not just screenplay writers, it's also those that write fiction as well.


Edited by Joni - 08 May 2018 at 8:01am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PennyForThem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 May 2018 at 8:33am
Originally posted by Joni Joni wrote:


Maybe I'm still delusional about it. Maybe that's necessary. But I have always wanted to write screenplays and see my work come to life on the screen.


So much great advice and encouragement in your post Joni. This was my first screenplay and I was wondering, are hook-ups with acting schools a thing to consider? I have actor friends who I know would appreciate new work. It might not be big bucks production but it would bring some of the smaller scripts to life. Just wondered if this is an avenue you, or anyone else, had or would explore?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 May 2018 at 11:00am
Originally posted by Joni Joni wrote:

Originally posted by Suave Suave wrote:


Sounds like you have a path!  I wish you all the luck in the world on it.  I have run into the ones, like you mention, that do not want criticism in the writing sections of NYCM.  This is my first screenplay contest, but seeing as I bought my software to do I will continue, I love a challenge, but I also like the "My God that is great" when someone reads a story, not many people read a script and know what is going on.

That's definitely true. I hope you do keep going. Your first script was great and I'd love to see it expanded. And we'll probably get to see a second from you here too Wink

Just fyi- there's a good, well-regulated group on fb (I think it's London-based) called Bang2Writers. It's similar to here, in that everyone is supportive of each other and people will offer to read each other's full-length scripts or exchange or whatever. It's also got regular tips, articles, etc. Screenplays definitely aren't for the masses to read lol, but that's a good place to find at least some readers. -- edited to add: that group is one of my favorites because it's not just screenplay writers, it's also those that write fiction as well.


You do have a lot of great advice.  It is nice to hear what others have done and found.  these are things I will fall back on once I get to that point.  For now I am just going to start writing one, though that group you mentioned sounds perfect....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wateringcan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2018 at 11:09am
I specifically write scripts, not prose, so I guess I can answer this as a scriptwriter!

Scripts are not meant to be read. I mean, they are, because that's how you sell them, but the purpose of a script is to be acted. Your dream as a scriptwriter is not that someone reads it - that's just a necessary means to an end - it's that someone performs it and that someone sees it performed.

And actually I think scriptwriters have an advantage here. You can make your own short films - cameras are quite affordable now, you can put on your own plays and shows above pubs or wherever, and at least in the UK there are *a lot* of competitions and opportunities for scriptwriters, most of which are paid.

But anyway, I think it might just be a different kind of dream. I am specifically attracted to telling stories through a dramatic medium and don't find it satisfying to tell them in a literary way - I'm also more attracted to being told stories dramatically rather than reading them (although I do still like reading - it's just that no book makes me feel the way I feel about cinema).

Also, I can't speak for the US since I don't live there, but in the UK scriptwriting is fairly entrepreneurial. As others have said, competitions - even if you win a major one - don't necessarily translate to success. I did quite well in a competition years and years ago and got some minor paid work through that, so competitions aren't useless, but your better bet is probably making something yourself. Whether it's staging a play and getting it on at a festival or making a short film, or putting sketches online, the best way to 'get noticed' is by getting the audience first. It's also just nice to be able to see an audience react to what you do. But as others have said, try not to think about outcomes because it will just ruin it for you!


Edited by wateringcan - 09 May 2018 at 3:42pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TamDWil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2018 at 5:00pm
I'm working on breaking in with television writing and I read scripts to learn about the process of screenwriting and improve my understanding of the choices that were made to make the final product. To me, they're just like books in the way you see a scene play out and you incorporate the mechanics into your own story. It's exciting to read how people tackle the same subject. 

But for me, I don't push to write for the market. To me it's just too fickle and volatile, I mean you can keep track of it and make a guess if something you've written will be well received, but I admit I'm not that patient and really want to write the stories that I would love to see on the screen. 

I'm not sure they will ever get picked but right now the urge to improve and get my work out there is larger than the urge to just find a way in because I think just getting my work out there will improve my chances of getting in. (Strange logic is a go! lol)

Originally posted by wateringcan wateringcan wrote:


Also, I can't speak for the US since I don't live there, but in the UK scriptwriting is fairly entrepreneurial. As others have said, competitions - even if you win a major one - don't necessarily translate to success. I did quite well in a competition years and years ago and got some minor paid work through that, so competitions aren't useless, but your better bet is probably making something yourself. Whether it's staging a play and getting it on at a festival or making a short film, or putting sketches online, the best way to 'get noticed' is by getting the audience first. It's also just nice to be able to see an audience react to what you do. But as others have said, try not to think about outcomes because it will just ruin it for you!

It's pretty much the same in the US. You have to network and constantly work on making your name known. Even winning isn't a guarantee that you'll stay in the industry's favor. There are a few contests like Screencraft, or places like BlackList that seem to go further than just holding a contest or holding your screenplay in their database. And if you work through them you'll have a better chance of getting noticed.

But I agree about not worrying about outcomes. The creating and connecting part is fun in its weird way, getting seen and things made is a bonus.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RedSquares Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2018 at 2:26pm
I don’t consider myself a good writer, or writer at all for that matter. I am a filmmaker Smile(said with pride, although I still have a day job to pay the bills) NYCMidnight is a writing contest, not a filmmaking contest.
My two cents on this competition: unless the stars align and you get a judge who “gets” your script, the competition is just to hone your skills and get your ego stroked by the community of fellow writers.
If you want your script produced, write for virtually zero budget. Emphasize emotion and write so reader can “see” it. But don’t give too much camera directions, because to a director it is irritating as hell. And look for filmmakers.
I loved  some scripts that didn’t win. I also read some winning scripts and my thoughts were like “WTF?!” Subjective view, that’s it. Aside for gross grammar and formatiting issues, The same is for the judges. The competition is here to make money for the organizers, while giving writers an opportunity to compete. If you have kids in sports that rely on subjective judging, you know the feeling. 
I write my script and I know how I am going to shoot it. However, I lack in dialogue. I would love to find someone to work with, but usually end up winging it myself. For my last competition i approached one of the writers from here, but they were too busy with the short story. Oh, well.  I don’t promise a break through, I do t even promise the script being produced, but at least it would be shot(postproduction could be a b$$$h sometimes) Personally, I am ok giving away screenwriting credit, if I get to direct.  (PM me if anyone interested, I have short film competition coming up in July) 
I like NYCMidnight because it puts pressure  on me and I work Best under pressure. It helps me as a screenwriter because I get to read excellent short screenplays, and learn from very talented people. I go in not bringing my hopes up, but if I make to a next round, my ego rejoices SmileSmileSmileSmile


Edited by RedSquares - 14 May 2018 at 2:45pm
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