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Monday, February 07, 2005

I just got my latest spam from Scriptapalooza. I'm suspicious of all writing competitions. It's just too easy to charge $50 a screenplay, get 1000 entries, give a $10,000 award, and walk away with $40,000.

Here's their latest spam, and what I think of it:

7th Annual Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition

The Writers Guild of America, west
supports Scriptapalooza.

No mention of Scriptapalooza anywhere on the WGA website. If this were an official position -- rather than a nice blurb from an official -- it should be on the site.

With the WGAwest, Write Brothers and Robert McKee all strongly supporting Scriptapalooza, this is the competition to enter.

The Write Brothers are the guys who make Movie Magic Screenwriter, i.e. they are in the business of selling screenwriting software. Anything that encourages people to write screenplays is a Good Thing, as far as they're concerned. I've got nothing against them, mind, they're doing their job. But their endorsement is not disinterested.

First place prize is $10,000

See math above.

All thirteen winners will be considered by Scriptapalooza's outstanding participants.

Considered? Considered??? Hahahahahahahahah. What the hell does "considered" mean?

2004 Entrant 3rd Place Winner SOLD, "Redumption (AKA How to Win Back Your High
School Sweetheart)" was discovered during the judging process by Colin O'Reilly and
picked up by Level 1 Entertainment for low against mid-six figures.

Note that this does not say that the competition had anything to do with the sale. It says that it was discovered (possibly because the writer sent query letters to every production company in town, or had an agent) during the time the judging was going on. The Hollywood Reporter's article that I read on the sale said nothing about Scriptapalooza.

Scriptapalooza FACTS:

We are in our 7th year as a screenwriting competition
All the judging is done by 60 production companies
Entertainment Weekly Magazine calls us 'One of the Best'

Well, that's something, at least. Of course, Entertainment Weekly is not a trade paper, it's a supermarket slick.

We promote the top 13 winners for a full year

On their website?

The top 30 winners get software from Write Brothers

I'd be wayyyy more impressed if the software were Final Draft, which is more the industry standard as far as I know. But bear in mind also, the software costs the Movie Magic people about $15 a box -- they just charge hundreds of dollars for it. So a few dozen promotional copies is no big deal.

Finalists, Semifinalists and quarterfinalists get requested consistently

There are any number of development execs at small production companies who need to justify their paychecks. Of course they request the scripts. But you could send them query letters yourself. In fact for the price of entry to the contest, you could send every single development exec in town a personal letter. Or you could send them an email for free.

The Grand prize is $10,000
We post all the requested scripts by companies on website
We get calls from companies looking for material

"Despite it's [sic] frivolous name, Scriptapalooza is the best screenwriting competition I know."
- Robert McKee

Uhhhh ... what about the Nicholl Fellowship, which is run by the Academy? Project Greenlight (also, incidentally, sponsored by the Write Brothers)? Chesterfield?

On the other hand, why would Robert McKee know what the best screenwriting competition is? He gives good seminars, and he's got a lovely book, but he's not a buyer. Or, for that matter, a screenwriter.

Actually, the best screenwriting competition in the world is the WGA Awards... but your movie needs to get made first.

I think screenwriting competitions (with the exception of the three above, and anything run by a studio or network) are a BIG FAT WASTE OF MONEY AND TIME. If you have a good hook, query letters will get your script read, and if the script delivers the goods, it'll get optioned or bought. If not, nothing will.

If winning one of these other competitions has helped you, let me know, and I'll probably retract the above. [UPDATE: Three months later, no one has.]

Huh... now maybe will they take me off their spam list?



Placing in the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting Competition has opened many doors for me and helped start my career.

But I agree that competitions are a big waste of time and money with the exception of the big three.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:46 AM  

Nice article. What about the Zoetrope screenwriting contest or the Warner Bros? Do you ( or anybody reading) have any info on that?

I'm lining up a 3+ scripts for 2011.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:09 AM  

Very well-written article. I also received the Scriptapalooza email and wondered about it. I found your blog post while googling "is scriptapalooza legitimate". Thanks for clarifying what seems to be essentially a shell game. Just have a gander at the creds for the producers reading the entries. Do I really want my script read by the producer of Halloween: Resurrection? And how accurate are the credentials. They list Scott Stoops as creative executive with credits for A History of Violence and The Ring, 1 and 2, but his IMDB profile only lists credits for a 2010 short film called Who is Roderick Davis?

By Blogger Unknown, at 4:50 PM  

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