Friday, March 28, 2008


So recently I had a great chat with someone about screenwriting contests.

So now I'm curious, all you screenwriters out there -- how many screenwriting contests have you entered? How much $ have you spent on entry fees, xerox copies (before online submissions) and stamps? How many contests did you win? How many notified you that you won? Or lost?

How many didn't cash your entry checks? NOT ONE, huh? Not surprising. It's a racket some of these contests. So enter with your eyes wide open.

I think the top major screenwriting contests are fine and inspiring. But, have you noticed how many gazillion contests are out there now? Where does all that money go that these contests accumulate from hungry writers? Who is reading all these scripts? Do they actually read them? Do they read each and every one that costs us sometimes $75 a pop to submit online or do they just read the synopsis and press delete? Rejection City. (Insert Suze Orman here saying "De-nied! De-nied! You are sooooo denied!")

I've placed in my fair share of contests. I made it to the Finals of the New Century Writer's Awards in 2000 for my spec script "Brutal Pattern". This was the same script that was once optioned by Mike Farrell for Anne Heche (read earlier blog post for full story). Now I would have NEVER known that I made it into the Finals. Do you know how I found out? A male co-worker Googled me and my name and script title came up on the Finals list. So HE told ME.
No way, I said. Get out of here. "Google yourself" he demanded. Now this was around 2001 or so and I had NO IDEA what that meant. Google-my-what? "Come here, ya tech nerd, I'll show you." And he did. There I was. Janet Lawler "Brutal Pattern" A finalist in a contest. Hey, that's my name. My script. How cool was that?! I never win anything (except for Final Draft software once for getting Oscar Trivia right!).

So I ask you all again -- how many writing contests have you entered? Have you ever won? Maybe you won a contest and don't even know it.

Go Google yourself.

1 comment:

Jon Mitchell said...

I'm a British screenwriter, based in Japan.
I got my break on the back of winning a screenwriting contest two years ago. I had zero connections, zero friends in the biz, zilch, zip. So I entered a a script into four contests.
It took first place in the (now defunct) American Accolades and, to my surprise, mentioning this in my cover letters opened more doors than a skeleton key.
Now, I'm a working writer signed on to pen three projects. I'm not sure if I'd be where I am without that win on my resume - it gives you just that little bit that makes you stand out from the crowd...