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Friday, September 12, 2008

Bummed About Competition Season Results?

Dear Wave-inatrix: I entered three scripts into several competitions this year and I didn't get past quarter finalist on any of them. I'm discouraged and depressed. What should I do? Maybe I just suck.
-Depressed in Detroit

Dear Depressed:

It's natural to feel the sting of disappointment after having given competition season your best shot - three shots in your case. A couple of things to remember: competitions are subjective, they really are. I know plenty of good writers who didn't place this year and to me, this is no reflection of the material. I know writers who didn't place in one year, entered the self-same script the following year and did place. But I do think it's a good opportunity to take inventory of the situation and see where your writing is and where these scripts fit into the scheme of things. I would take each script in question here and ask the following questions of the material:

Why do you feel this is an important story to be told?

Name 3 movies like your script – when did they come out and how did they do at the box office?

Why is this a better, more unique, more powerfully told story than others like it – because there have been others like it.

What is the centrally entertaining theme?

Why should an actor choose these roles?

What is the approximate cost of making this script into a film?

Is this a Friday night opener or a Sunday matinee?

How will this story do overseas? DVD sales?

How does this story speak to the zeitgeist – two years from now?

What is the unique hook in this script? Is it in fact unique?

Are you willing to put the time into this script, knowing that there are writers in Hollywood half your age* with twice the connections? Is your faith in the story that strong?

You need not one good script but several. Every one better than the last. For every script you write, you should do this homework and research. You need to know why you're writing the script and why it's got, as far as you can tell, a realistic shot at the market.

Don't get mad. Get even. Take stock of your material and yourself as a writer.

*Or twice your age.

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