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Friday, September 5, 2008

The Power of Buzz

The Wave-inatrix has had a recent experience with the power of buzz. This weekend the Silver Screenwriting Competition is moving into the final phase of judging the very top scripts from the hundreds we received at the beginning of this whole endeavor. And we're doing it the old-fashioned way; as a group.

There are two specific scripts that some of my reader/judges have read that they are crazy about. Of course, I can't give away the titles or writers here but I keep hearing look for THIS one and look for THAT one - it's great! And it generates a feeling of excitement - where is that script? Somebody show me that script! If my readers love a script - it has to be good because, with all due respect, they are a bunch of hard-asses. I say that with love. So I'm very excited to read all of this top contenders but particularly ones that have got the readers excited.

We're literally gathering at my cozy house with the scripts in a giant pile with boxes for categories like: WOW! and SEMI-FINALIST ONLY and LET'S DISCUSS FURTHER. This process will be going on all weekend. One room, six readers, 43 scripts. It's like script camp. I should have tee-shirts made: I Survived Script Camp Weekend! What I am looking forward to about this weekend is that I know there are a few absolute GEMS in this pile of 43 scripts. It's going to be exciting finding those gems. And I look forward to the organic discussions of the merits of every script in consideration. Live. In person. If a reader loves a script - that reader has to then back up their recommendation in real time, before a jury of his or her peers.

Maybe it's because it's our first year, maybe it's because I love my job, maybe in future years this won't be realistic given the huge numbers of scripts that come in, but in my mind, this is the way a script should be judged. Not by committee - don't get me wrong - individually and then discussed in a round table. Each script will be carefully considered. If a reader loves your script - they're going to fight hard to see it advance. This is Just Effing Entertain Me writ large.

Don't get me wrong - we're not so special. In the final rounds of any competition, the judging is personal and careful. I guess. I mean, it must be. But what we're doing that is really fun for us is that when heretofore all judging had been electronic and individual and in this case, should continue to be so for another 20 scripts, we decided to toss that methodology out the window in favor of really rolling up our sleeves now to find those great scripts. This year might have been anomalous but we received quite a number of entertaining and compelling scripts. Things could get ugly with all of us fighting for this or that script to pull ahead.

Tell you one thing - two scripts are getting buzz within our group. I have seen neither one but believe me, I'm going to dig through the boxes and pull them out first thing. Then we'll set them aside and see if any other scripts can compete with them for the Grand Prize. This won't be easy.

Wish us luck. Now. Off to the grocery store to stock up on Red Bull and candy. No, wait, we shouldn't be hyped up. Brown rice and tofu? Pizza and beer? Hmmmmm... what do you serve six readers in one room arguing about whose script is the best?

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Anonymous said...

The suspense and drama are killing me, Julie! Hope my script is in the WOW pile. Knowing it will be dissected by professional readers, what a buzz!

naomi said...

Julie, that sounds like an excellent way to spend a weekend-- I'm totally jealous.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,

Any scripts in this pile that will introduce the world , the next Spike Lee or the next script that Scorcesse might like....
Looking forward to your choice.
I know 10 of the writers in that pile.
Can't wait for the result.

Christina said...

When we're at this stage of picking what stories we pass up to the editors at Zoetrope, the meal is pizza and wine, and we usually end up shouting at each other. What happens is that there will be a couple of pieces that some people LOVE and others HATE, and then a couple of pieces that everyone is okay with, but not terribly excited about. I personally would rather publish/pick the pieces that divide the readers and make them emotional rather than the ones that inspire "like"...

Julie Gray said...

We're going stuffed chicken breast, rice and stella artois. :)

Chris said...

i am simultaneously thrilled by and fear this post. i will be existing in a Schroedinger quantum state until Tuesday.

happy judging :)

Mike Scherer said...

Don't. Envy. You. One. Bit!!

Forty-one scripts will be battling for third place??

How will you choose?

Good luck!

E.C. Henry said...

Sounds like fun, Julie.

Serve nachos. I'll be eatting nachos when I watch my Seahawks dispatch of those pesky Buffalo Bills this Sunday. It's all about synergy. I eat nachos. You eat nachos. I just picked my winner. Now you eat your nachos and pick yours.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA