Although I won this blog spot last year, I wanted to wait until results were received from many screenplay competitions before offering a perspective that might be beneficial to other screenwriters. Over the past year, four of my screenplays received more than 50 awards and selections from around the globe and I have an Oscar-winning producer attached to one of them. But this did not occur through an agent or screenplay competition, it happened because of relationships. I will admit that the dozens of ‘laurels’ on my title pages add credibility for investors, but outside of this, there are no studios, agents or managers beating down my door. Writers should become accustomed to the ‘silent pass’ norm that is Hollywood, regardless of how many prestigious competitions they have won.
As for the ‘readers’ and ‘analysts’ scoring writers’ works, the majority are paid little to review scripts and many have never produced or written a screenplay. Notes you receive can run the gamut and some will reveal a reader’s lack of experience and therefore understanding of your project that took years to construct. The more sophisticated your screenplay, the more difficult to attain constructive feedback from qualified people. Readers read and writers create.
As a former actor with hundreds of TV and film credits, I can state emphatically that any writer only wishing to ‘sell’ their work and not stay on for the rewrites will be kicking themselves when they see the final product that others have screwed up. “When a committee designs a horse, the result is a camel.” Many competitions and their readers focus on the ‘selling’ aspects of the work and score your screenplay according to a set of parameters typically acquired from seminars or classes. I can’t count the number of poorly-written green-lit projects I worked on as an actor, as evidenced from much of the junk that eventually makes it to the screen. Hollywood is not in the business of making great films; it’s in the business of making hits. Period.
A script is from the writer’s mind and is the writer’s property until the writer decides to give it up. Screenplays are malleable, evolving and ever-changing works of art, until someone takes away your brushes.
I would advise any aspiring writers reading this to persevere, as eventually, the cream will rise to the top and hopefully, someone will open the bottle.