Rightly or wrongly, I’ve entered three scripts for the Red Planet Prize – (just as well they changed the rules really).
I’ve spent 2007 re-writing all of these scripts, because – let’s face it – first drafts suck the big one (and so do my second and third drafts for that matter). In fact, I’m still ploughing through a re-write on one of these (it’s amazing what you discover when you run through a hastily written first draft: a three page telephone conversation! Argh! A five page monologue! Double argh!)
Anyway, here are the scripts I’ve submitted and some choice comments against each from reviewers far and wide:
NIGHTFALL: There were several things about it I did not fully understand.
DAMAGED: This has a first script feel to it - which isn't a bad thing. (Don’cha just love Trigger Street?)
SUICIDE’S SON: My fave comment of all - The title sounds like a goth band – change that. Thanks Oli – I’m working on it!
Damaged was a finalist here (they insisted on calling me "Christopher" for some reason), but I got bugger all exposure out of it, and every single agent I informed simply went, ‘Meh,’ and fell asleep. I also entered the screenplay competition at the Vail Film Festival, but heard absolutely nothing, even when I e-mailed them a very polite question – however, by then, they already had my $60, so screw you, Chip! Caveat emptor indeed.
All of which means I guess that you have to put your faith in the biggies – Blue Cat (hmmm, think I might’ve shot myself in the foot there), the Nicholl, Big Break, Slamdance, etc.
Problem is, these are all US-based competitions – not a big deal as such, but it would be nice if there were a few more homegrown competitions as well, which is the reason why Red Planet Prize is so welcome (and free to boot – my favourite price).
(There’s the British Short Screenplay Competition of course, but I’ve never entered – personally speaking, the prospect of writing a ten page screenplay fills me with total dread).
Red Planet aside, I don’t know about the whole competition thing to be honest – at least with Blue Cat you get coverage, but this can vary in quality, as Scott the Reader knows all too well. And now with Without a Box, there are literally hundreds of competitions queuing up for you to throw your money at, which simply leads me to the conclusion there’s a ton of money to be unlocked in all those spec screenplays in them thar hills.
I think in future when given the choice between $60 script notes and a $60 screenplay competition entrance fee, I’ll probably go for the script notes. It will almost certainly lead to a better script, which is surely the reason we’re all doing this – right?