The Writers Store recently held an intriguing Screenwriting Contest. An industry screenwriting veteran — in this case, Simon Kinberg (screenwriter of Mr. and Mrs. Smith) — would provide a logline that contest entrants would then need to craft into the first 15 pages of a screenplay.
Here was the logline provided:
A spy who has spent life wining and dining young women suddenly gets a major surprise when his daughter knocks on the door.
Let’s Do It
It sounded like a lot of fun, and implied an action comedy genre, so I decided to enter it. So did over 1,000 other people. Which meant the odds of making it to the top 10 was less than 1%. Difficult, but not insurmountable (my kind of challenge).
What’s the Frequency Kenneth?
According to the Writers Store, there were so many “stellar scripts” that they “came close to increasing the final count to 20.” I believe them.
Unfortunately, like many contests, the screenwriters aren’t privy to the final judging criteria. Maybe they were looking for a very specific genre? Maybe they were looking to appeal to a specific demographic (e.g. kid-friendly)? Maybe they were looking for something similar to a previously released movie?
If anyone at the Writers Store has any insight into this final process, or even the other 11-20 names that were in contention, I’d love to hear from you.
At any rate the top 10 finalists beat me, so well done!
If any of the finalists (Araby Patch, Sarah Newman, Mary Krell-Oishi, Leo Sardarian, Jacob Snyder, David Steiner, Kenneth Lemm, Yuri Shallan, Bob Giordano, and Alex Berger) feels like sending me their submission to read, I’d love to check them out (I promise I won’t blog about it).
UPDATE #1 (August 2, 2011): Nine of the finalists’ scripts are now available for download.
UPDATE #2 (August 2, 2011): For those entering the current round of the Industry Insider Screenwriting contest, here’s a great tip from Dana Hahn, Industry Insider Contest Coordinator, who was kind enough to provide it to me:
“The main thing that we’re looking for in our contest is the quality of the writing, and a unique take on the logline.”
– Dana Hahn, Industry Insider Contest Coordinator
Thanks Dana! And good luck everyone!
For those interested, here’s my submission entitled BLOWN. I think it’s really good, yet it didn’t qualify. So, if your 15 pages didn’t qualify either, don’t feel bad about it. It’s not necessarily a reflection of your writing. You win some; you lose some. That’s just the nature of the game.
Want me to read your screenplay? Please take a look at my script services.
Your piece definitely had all the elements, and some funny-ass jokes.
Where do I start with this contest. So frustrating and untransparent and it’s like a Black Hole (who knows what’s going on in the Writers Store)?
Never heard of this kind of contest – a Book Store starts a screenplay contest?????? Very suspicious and bias! Maybe you did not hear me, it’s insulting – A BOOK STORE STARTS a script contest?????? If that’s not the biggest conflict of interest in the world, well knock me down and wiggle all you money from my pocket…
Clearly a conflict of interest? Now of those 990 folks who lost, why on earth will they ever want to buy any books from this store after losing. I see it this way – any bookstore where I lost in a contest, sorry I will not buy your books because you don’t have good taste for good scripts. I will go to http://www.amazon.com. You treated me like shit by not choosing my script and also not giving me some notes for $40 and worst of all we don’t know who are the judges and what makes them so qualified…
The Writers Store, got 1000 applicants and only 10 get feedback/notes. What did they do with their 40dollars *1000? How come the other applicants did not get notes or a grade sheet? How come Gordy of BlueCat can afford to give notes on the entire script?
The operator of this contest is Jesse Douma(OWER OF THE WRITERS STORE), really, he made a bad call on this one.
And I send over 10 emails for Jesse to disclose who are his script/story consultants for this Insider Contest. Some of these guys charge over $200. Highway robbery!
Jesse when are you going to advertise the BIO of all you story/script consultants. All top story consultants publish their BIO on the net. Maybe I should post them!
What a joke.
I AM NOT ENTERING THIS CONTEST – INDUSTRY INSIDER CONTEST BYE THE WRITERS STORE.
I WILL NOT BUY ANY MORE BOOKS FROM THE WRITERS STORE.
I WILL DELETE MY PROFILE ON JESSE DOUMA’S http://WWW.STORYLINK.COM
SAD DAY. NOT A GOOD WAY TO START THE NEW YEAR.
I WILL ASK JESSE DOUMA FOR A FULL REFUND.
Freaking out and depressed how we lost $40 on this unfair contest,
Thanks Scott, I appreciate it!
I feel your pain. But at the same time, I’m thankful that the Writers Store held this contest. An opportunity to hang out with Simon Kinberg is better than no opportunity, right?
It was a cool exercise too — writing a script from someone else’s idea. If you become a working writer, those are the opportunities that you’ll be most exposed to.
Besides, it’s not wasted time. Everything you write, sharpens your skills that much more. And if the stuff you wrote was really good, which I’m sure it was, then you can cannibalize it to use in one of your future screenplays. I know I will.
It’s too bad that all of the writers don’t get notes, but that’s very common in the majority of contests you’ll enter unfortunately. Honestly, I’d rather the Writers Store focus their efforts on weeding out the so-so scripts and focussing on the top 100 scripts or to winnow down. Which is what they probably did.
The Writers Store has been providing all kinds of products for screenwriters for a long time now, and in some cases is the only place you can get certain things. So I’m definitely thankful for all they’ve done for the screenwriting community.
I could have sworn I read some bios of their analysts. They look like they really know their stuff.
We’ll get ’em next Marnie! Keep the faith and focus that energy on writing. I know it’ll pay off for you in the future.
Thanks for your note!
I agree with Marnie. When I started in the chase, 10 years ago I was applying to every script contest in this Universe. Now I apply to only 5! And I am not going to apply to this one again.
I wish the guy who started this INDUSTRY INSIDER CONTEST would be more open.
Could he tell us the judging process and who are the judges and to give some notes to all the entrants. Could he prove all the scripts were read and graded. For heaven sake we paid $$40.00 dollars to read 15 pages. What is the hell wrong with this. LOTS! It robbing from the poor and laughing in our face.
You wouldn’t believe how pissed I am at this contest.
Trevor, maybe you could interview him/her and ask him set the record straight and why he’s not giving us some notes or grid score or one/two sentence notes on the our submission. We paid $40.00 for only 15 page submission. Ladies and Gents, think about this contest, it is utterly unfair and pure “robbery”.
If he really cared, he would. Just like Gordy from BlueCat does.
It seems that much of your anger is directed at the fact that you did not receive any notes on your script. Now I don’t want to come across as a Writers Store apologist, but I don’t remember there being any mention of writers receiving individual notes on their scripts.
If they had advertised that, and had not provided it, that’s one thing. But that’s clearly not the case here. You know what they say happens when you assume something?
The $40 (I paid $50) was expensive, but the prize for this contest was very innovative. It offered a chance to not only meet a screenwriter that most of us admire, it provided an opportunity to get representation at one of the most respected agencies in town. An uncommon price for an uncommon prize is fair, I believe.
The only thing I wish they were more transparent about was the final judging criteria. But even then, wishing and expecting are two totally different things.
In this industry, you’ll often go out for an assignment where you’re pitching your idea and are up against any number of other writers or writing teams. If you don’t get the gig, you may have absolutely no idea why. That’s just how it works. You need to keep soldiering on and perfecting your pitch and your writing… and soon you’ll be the one on the inside.
Keep writing and I look forward to reading about your future successes!
Thanks for the feedback.
Hi Trevor – Your script was a very entertaining read! 🙂
PS. Out of interest – what process did you follow to take the logline to the 15 pages? eg, Did you work through a more comphrehensive story scenario then hone in on the best way to set it up? Or did you just focus on making your 15 pages as good as can be without considering where the story might go?
I appreciate the feedback. Glad you enjoyed it!
My process for this one? I definitely fleshed out the broad strokes for a full story… The ending, a couple of key twists, a trickster character, the main plot, some additional key characters that would have joined us in the following sequence, etc. Basically the main beats of the story.
I think if you don’t have a definite direction in mind for the first 15 pages, a seasoned eye can tell. I know I sure can. But I certainly didn’t spend time fleshing out a full scene by scene outline, because there was always the chance that I wouldn’t make the “top” 10 and… well, here we are. 🙂
Great question. All the best!
I definitely got my money’s worth as far as the writing exercise goes. It gave me an excuse to put aside my stalled screenplay and try my hand at a different genre without the emotional baggage attached to my “personal screenplay.” It gave me the satisfaction of finishing something by a deadline. I liked the fact that the contest rules stated that “screenplays will be judged on the overall merit of the story.” It sounded like the judges wouldn’t be nitpicking format errors etc. I would like to think I made it into the top twenty. Why not reveal all twenty finalists if it was such a hard choice? At the very least it would be helpful to receive a form letter rejection email, so you know you got a fair reading. I’m sure some of us wonder if their script somehow got lost in the shuffle, like Citizen Kane’s Rosebud, discarded accidently.
I felt the same way. The contest was definitely a welcome break from the script I was working on.
Maybe it’s best that we never know the final names. Then we can all say to ourselves, “I know I would have been a top 20 finalist!”
But seriously though, my submission must have been in the top 20. 🙂
Hopefully the momentum from the contest helped to get your personal screenplay rolling again. All the best!
I just entered the contest for this year. Are you? The one about the bachelor party.
I liked your first 15. Having not read the others and not the one that won I would say your script was for adults PG 13 and they may have been looking for something more family.
If I’m wrong there is no reason you should not have been top ten well done.
I have no problem with these contests enter if you want don’t if you think it’s a scam.
Thanks for the feedback on my submission! You’ve inspired me. After I finish my next script, I may go back and complete this one. People seem to really respond to it.
And you’re right, I think they were looking for something more family oriented. Too bad they didn’t offer more insight into their judging criteria in advance.
I decided not to enter this latest contest they held. The logline sounded way too similar to another script already in production — RICKY STANICKY.
Check it out:
But I’ll be rooting for you to take a top ten spot. All the best!
true everyone needs recognition for their story ideas. as such i don’t mean to portray a disgruntled image. but it’s sure like gedn impaled on the fence when you’re just an inch way from opportunity. + it’s bloody expensive 40 bucks is. i signed in agreeing to the terms.. yet i feel immensely disappointed when my script hadn’t got the treatment I thought it deserved. Well Trevor, your being chosen, you definitely know something the rest of us loser don’t. would you be interested in having a look at my script? well i have nothing to gain here as per se but i think you’d be a fair judge and jury. and i think i’d rather let you determine and state your thoughts on it than any other git. thanks man. write to me email@example.com (Trevor or any experienced Screenwriter out there) and I’l email it to you. thanks again! peace
Just sent you an email, as per your request. Let me know if you’re up for it. Cheers!
certainly my friend. thanks immensely! peace
and the email hasn’t reached me yet (probably). but considering your time of (the above) post, i wonder why. but just to give you a heads up that i haven’t received it yet.
(it’s firstname.lastname@example.org again.)