Friday, June 02, 2006

NOW WHAT?

So what's next? What are you guys all going to do with those scripts? Have any marketing plans? Going to take the summer off? Going to take some classes?

Me, after taking a 9-month sabbatical to recharge my batteries and earn a certificate in the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, I plan on jumping back into the game again. I've got two new specs nearing completion. And when I say nearing completion, I mean they still need quite a bit more development (which is a kind way of saying they still kind of suck eggs.) My long-suffering agent is probably going to have a cardiac when and if he sees new material from me. (Don't laugh. It's happened before. Agent Bobby Littman, may he rest in peace, left the planet shortly after sending out one of my specs many years ago. Coincidence? Hmm.)

How about you guys? What are you going to do with those scripts you submitted to WOTS? Have you entered them in other contests? Does anybody have anything interesting going on career-wise? Let us know!

--Jim Cirile

34 comments:

Sondra said...

I've been trying to find an agent for so long I'm ready to give up. There's nowhere left to query. I bought the HGollywood Agents & managers directory and queired everybody who does the type of script I have (which ius a romantic comedy) and I got two bites but both were passes. now i don't know what do do next. i'm working on another script but i put over a year into this one and it got a consider from coverage ink so it's got to be pretty good, so what am i doing wrong?

Troy said...

I have been thinking about the UCLA Professional Program myself. I don't see myself moving to LA by this fall, so the online workshop is looking a bit more realistic. I would love to hear what your experience in the program was like and how the online version compares.

Also, I am attending a workshop in Idyllwild, CA in July with Meg LeFauve (producer, Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys), Joe Forte (writer, Firewall) and several others. I attended two years ago as a finalist in the Cinestory contest and it was amazing. There may be spaces left. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Are Red Inkworks and Writer's Digest regarded as bottom of the barrel competitions?

I entered script X in the Red Inkworks competition and placed in the top 50. Comments were very positive for the script and the only criticism was that script X had very lengthy action descriptions. I went through the whole script and trimmed and tightened all the descriptions. After which, I figured I'd be riding high in future contests.

Not the case... except for Writer's Digest, where I placed in the top 100. Beyond that, I couldn't get past round one in anything.

I received feedback from another contest later...and they drove home the point of tightening up the action descriptions. So, I went to town on the script again, trimming those action descriptions even more. I felt like my new action descriptions were pretty tight and reflective of what I was seeing in other solid scripts. The story and dialog was the same one that I had gotten high marks for, and I had even done some nice little tweaking to that as I worked on the technical stuff. I thought, "Okay, now the script is TIGHT!"

The new tight script X couldn't even crack into the quarterfinalists in WOTS. I feel like I am ramming my head against a wall.

So, no offense to the administrators of those other contests, but are these (RI and WD) 'chump' contests? Am I building a false mental picture here? Trying to hit a home run in MLB after knocking what I thought was a big homer in AAA... when, in reality, I had my eyes closed and it was actually 4th grade tee ball?

Jim Cirile said...

Hi guys, let me see if I can answer some of these. First Sondra: Yes, this is hard, but oftentimes a script will be "dead" for the moment and you simply have to move on. Bear in mind that old material can come back to life at any time. If and when you get some forward momentum and you get some meetings, inevitably the question arises, "So what else have you got?" It's then that this old material becomes very valuable. Oftentimes once a writer breaks in with one script, that allows them to set up some of their "catalog." As for agents & managers, check out the article way down at the bottom of this blog. Generally speaking managers are more receptive to reading than agents are, and even more receptive are jr CEs at prodcos. Just make sure your next script rocks the house before you make any submits. If it does you will make fans, and eventually things will begin to snowball. But trying to get an agent without first having fans or a manager is like shooting spitballs at Fort Knox.

Troy, the UCLA professional program was a great experience and I recommend it wholeheartedly. The downside is it costs $4,500. That's a big downside! Plus exorbitant UCLA parking. The online version is great, I'm sure, but probably not as good as being there since you can't meet people and network as effectively. I've made good friends in the program and we're also forming a writer's group, all of which is invaluable beyond the excellent education you get. The instructors in the Professional Program are terrific.

Anonymous, I've never heard of Red Inkworks. That doesn't necessarily mean anything either way, but bear in mind there are a lot of contests out there with zero juice. Now Writer's Digest is a well-respected publication, but their forte is prose, not screenwriting. As for your script, you'll get the mini-analysis soon and that will give you an idea of how close to the target our analyst thought it is. I've been in your shoes many times, and have on more than one occasion thought I'd fixed the major problems with my script only to discover still more later on, usually being pointed out to me by some exec or agent as he shut the door in my face. I've gotten a bit gun-shy now and am tending to not send anything out anymore until I've done about 20 drafts. My personal bar is when I consistently get "considers" from my team on a new script. Until that point, it's a non-starter. So just take some deep breaths and then figure out what your next step should be, either with script X or maybe with something new, so you can step back a bit and get some perspective on it.

Harry said...

Jim,

Do you have reaction or take on contests that give zero reply to entrants? I think it's great that you are a contest that gives feedback. I've entered some contests (and not cheap ones) where I have not advanced and get zero response. I am only left to guess that I did not win by time passing or by being industrious and finding the winner list on their site that does not include my name and do the math. It makes me really angry to spend $50 and not even get a short "Thanks for entering. Sorry to say that you didn't advance." I want to bark my frustration at the people running the contest, but feel that I will only make enemies. Instead, I just sit and stew, and feel taken.

Jim Cirile said...

Harry, honestly, I think they suck. That's the main reason we started Writers on the Storm. I mean seriously, it's not that hard to be civil to someone who's sending you money! Check out my I Hate Contests! rant down below on the blog for my own similar experiences.

That said, we have to send out about 800 mini analyses next week, and that's something of a logistical feat for our small team, but heck, it's not a big deal either. It simply means we have to do a little work!

--jc

Anonymous said...

For those of us who entered the contest via Coverage, Ink analysis: Will a seperate reader provide the mini-analysis, or will it be derived from the initial Coverage, Ink analysis?

Jim Cirile said...

There is no mini analysis for folks who submitted scripts to Coverage Ink. Coverage Ink clients receive the full analysis not the abbreviated one. The entry into the contest is a freebie. The script will not get read/critiqued twice (unless it advances to the next round.)

A. C. said...

Mostly I'm going to be sitting on pins and needles waiting to see if i advanced in 3 different contests. I made quarterfinals of AAA last year and this new draft is much more solid... i hope!

Anonymous said...

So, got my mini analysis and laughed my ass off.... Are you kidding me?

The analysis has a horoscope feel to it and I wouldn't be surprised if someone else has the identical analysis.

I realize this whole process is subjective, but I'm having great difficulties in buying this analysis. I paid some $500 odd dollars to have my script read by the who's of who of the industry and his structural feed back was nothing like yours.

Either he gave me 15 pages of b.s. or somebody's else is trying to. And, for what? So, that I can pay for coverage?

Now, I have entered A Feeding Frenzy Competition before yours, so as to secure a different perspective. And if they come back with similar structural observation, I will write you back with an apology.

But for now, I'll stick to my hunch that you did not read my script and merely threw back some cookie cutter response.

So much for your suspicion of Contests---- you've just strengthened mines.

Sincerely,
Disillusioned and Disappointed

Anonymous said...

I'm also completely disappointed with the "mini-analysis" I just received. Four lines of vague comments that mean nothing, followed by a huge ad for the Writer's Boot Camp. I'm grateful to be a quarterfinalist, but this feedback doesn't help me at all and also makes me wonder if the script was read. Even at a "mini-analysis" level, the reader should be able to make a comment that is specific to the script and/or characters.

Anonymous said...

By comment that is specific to the script and/or characters, do you mean something like this---

Script gets off to a rollicking start and has vivid imagination on display. Comedy here generally on-target. But Marcus is not the strongest protagonist. What exactly is his goal, his quest for the movie? All movies are, at their heart, about a protagonist who wants something desperately and is willing to go to great lengths and jeopardy to achieve it. Script needs a through-line - a clear goal for Marcus to pursue, to keep it from meandering and becoming episodic. Good effort and lots of potential!

Yeah, I hear ya.... that's exactly what I was hoping for. I was thinking that the mini-analysis would first and foremost serve as solid proof that the script WILL get read. And second, it will help contestants get some feel of what a professional reader thought of their script.

But with vague comments that can be applied to just about every script, what is one to think? Well... one is to think that most of the scripts did not get read and that our lovely friends at Writers on the Storm are laughing all the way to the bank--- to the tune of $31,745.

Jim--- your rants about contests is absolutely brilliant--- you had me, that's for sure....

Anonymous said...

Jim, are the quarterfinalists going to be read again by different people?

If not, then you already know who is going to win based on anyone who rated excellent in all four categories.

Hopefully this is not the case.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

is anyone willing to post their mini analysis comments? would be interesting to see if everyone got basically the same feedback.

Anonymous said...

My feedback seemed pretty solid. I mean it was just a couple of lines but it confirmed what i kind of expected, that i have too many characters and my main character gets kind of lost because of it. i can definitely see that. i was trying to do kind of an ensemble thing but i guess it didn't work too well. the reader did say i had a 'snappy style' which felt good. i dunno, seemed ok to me.

Bob Dylan said...

"Rejoice O young man in thy youth..."


-Ecclesiastes

Anonymous said...

RIP
B. Preston

Portia Jefferson said...

Once again thank you all for entering our contest and thanks to all who have written comments on this blog. We are grateful for all feedback.

We worked very hard on the contest and want to improve any areas that we can. As writers who, over the years, entered many contests ourselves, we were always frustrated by the complete lack of response we would get from other contests. You send in your entry fee and hear nothing from the contest, except a form letter. With the mini-analysis we wanted to give entrants a snapshot of what the reader thought of the submitted script. I can assure everyone that every single page of each script was read by our professional readers. Professional readers in this town get paid a minimum of $50 to "cover" a script. While this mini-analysis certainly isn't "coverage", it is feedback and we had to hire professional readers. So, the comment above by "anonymous" stating that we are "laughing all the way to the bank" is far from the truth.

As with the industry in general, our contest did have a level of subjectivity to it. Some readers feel an affinity toward Romantic Comedies or Period Dramas... others like broad comedies. But that's just the way it is. We evaluated each script carefully on its own merits and made sure that each script was given careful consideration. We WANT to find good scripts.

And yes, perhaps some comments are similar, but a good number of scripts entered in our contest had structure problems. Also in a good number of scripts, it was hard to identify who the protagonist was and what goal he or she was actively pursuing. It's the nature of screenwriting that writers struggle with the same issues.

We are exploring other ways of giving entrants helpful feedback in the next WOTS. We do want to be of help to writers trying to make it in the business and will re-double our efforts to make the WOTS experience a valuable one for all. If anyone has any suggestions, please let us know. You can also contact me at wotscompetition@aol.comif you have any further questions.

Thank you!

Jim Cirile said...

Thanks, Portia. I'd like to address a couple of issues raised here.

First and foremost, if anyone feels dissatisfied with the mini-analysis or with Writers on the Storm in anyway, please contact me directly at coverageink@aol.com. I will personally read the first 20 pages of your screenplay and let you know what I think, and then way my impressions with the Mini-Analysis. If any of our readers gave a useless or generic Mini-Analysis then I want to know who it was. I want everyone to know that we will bend over backwards to make sure that every single person who entered Writers on the Storm has a positive experience, and even more importantly, maybe now feels inspired to look under the hood of their screenplay and take it to the next level.

Now as for the quarterfinalists, yep, we have different readers reading all of them. They are not privy to what the previous reader thought and approach every script with no first impressions. And for the fellow who said we already know who the winners are, that is not the case at all. UCLA Co-Head of the Screenwriting Dept. Hal Ackerman along with myself, our top 3 Coverage Ink analysts and select industry friends will be reading the top 10 and judging the winners. I personally have no idea who got the best scores in the first round since Portia and the team handle all that.

Everyone please contact me with any issues: coverageink@aol.com.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you are actually pleased with the 'snappy style' comment? What does that mean exactly? My analyst observed that my script had a "snappy dialogue." I haven't the vaguest clue of what this means and probably don't care to as it is just a lot of crap.

Portia--- thanks for your response, but let us be honest of what has happened here. You cannot send off a bunch of crap and call it an analysis. It is insulting to your contestants who believed in you. As for suggestions for the next WOTS, just don't make promises you cannot fulfill cuz it makes the organization seem grubby.

Jim--- thank you for the offer to read the first 20 pages, but I feel that is precisely what your pple have done to produce such "mini-analysis" or as I see it, very vague and general observations. And you reading the first 20 pages would only produce the same "mini-analysis", so no thanks. Just be true to yourself and to your contestants the next time.

Anonymous said...

Jim, Portia, if some readers feel an affinity toward Romantic Comedies or Period Dramas (as Portia has pointed out), could the next WOTS allow the entrants to specify the genre of their screenplays so they might be read by a reader whose passion lies with that paticular genre?

Jim Cirile said...

That's a great comment just above, and the answer is YES. We're rolling out "Genre Match" at Coverage Ink in the next few weeks. This is simply a text box where you enter the script's genre when you order, so that we can make best effort to give it to a reader that specializes in that type of material. So for next year's WOTS we should be able to do the same thing. Bear in mind that readers do not have the luxury of picking and choosing what types of scripts they read and thus must become proficient in ALL genres--although obviously some are better than others. Like with me personally, while my thing is comedy and adventure, that doesn't mean I wouldn't be able to give good notes on your drama.

Anonymous said...

Mine was just fine, actually pretty good i think. the reader said my script act 2 was one long chase scene, so it definitely got read (it is true, it is one long chase scene.) Reader suggested I need some character-focused downtime intermixed with the action setpieces to make sure we're reinforcing on Bill's goal (to get the converter) amd to better develop his burgeoning relationship with Maya which right now, they get together at the end but we don't see that develop. Reader said "need to show the sparks on the screen developing between them, little moments, coy comments, looks, so it's clear the attraction is building in intensity." I'd say that's a good note right there and that alone is worth my $ even if I didn't make it to the quarterfinals

Anonymous said...

Hey, just wondering if all mini-analyis has been sent out.

Still waiting for mine.

Thanks.

Jim Cirile said...

Hi Anonymous, all the mini-analysis have been sent. If you sent an SASE it will come by mail. If you did not send an SASE but sent us your e-mail address it will come via e-mail. If you did not send an SASE and did not provide an e-mail address we will mail hard copy at our own expense.

If for any reason anyone doesn't get their Mini-Analysis in a couple days please e-mail Portia at wotscompetition@aol.com.

Anonymous said...

Anoymous with the long chase scene--- your Script definitely got read buddy, so congrats!

Mine was like full of vague words and made no reference to scenes, characters, acts, the story--- NOTHING! That, to me, is clear indication that the script did not get read in spite of Jim's and Portia's audacious assurance.

Anyway, all the best to all of you aspiring screenwriters...

Anonymous said...

I think it's time for someone to come out in defense of WOTS. I have been reading this blog, so I didn't expect much from my mini-analysis. I received mine today and thought each one was just as advertised -- a "mini" analysis of each submission. The problem is that pesky word mini. Too subjective, Jim. It seems that many entrants thought mini meant a fifteen-page coverage complete with a personal phone call from you.

First of all, this is the first contest tailored by screenwriters. They have included a blog that basically welcomes skepticism and criticism. They offer you "mini coverage." They thanked you for entering (most contests don't even do that. Fade In, I'm looking at you). They didn't charge all that much. $35 bucks. Come on. Did you see what Austin was charging this year? And finally – THEY READ OVER 900 SCRIPTS IN A TIMELY MANNER.

Give them a break, guys. How about a thank you for an excellent and professional contest? Suck it up. Your script didn’t make it. Nicholls doesn’t have the guts to offer a forum for you to vent on. Let it be, regroup, and get back to writing.

Jim, it's a great competition and I’m looking forward to ’07. In the words of the immortal Kris Kristofferson (when he comforted the booed Sinead) "Don't let the bastards bring you down." Thank you to Jim, Portia, and the rest of the WOTS staff & readers.

Jim Cirile said...

Hey, thanks, man. Guys, we are trying hard here. Again, if anyone feels their script received vague or useless mini-analysis, then please e-mail me. I will be happy to read the first 20 pages of your script and get back to you with my comments. If one of our readers was slacking I want to know about it. And I will be happy to read your scripts with no prejudice. So just e-mail me!

And yeah, definitely next year we'll post several Mini-Analyses instead of just the one sample so that folks are very clear on exactly what it is. The idea was always to just give a paragraph of general impressions.

--Jim

Tom Eng said...

NOW WHAT??

After I submitted my script to Coverage INK to enter the competition, I took a much needed two week break. BTW, the Coverage INK analysis was very good.

During my break, I ordered several Screenwriting Expo DVD's which gave me a new perspective on screenwriting craft.

FYI, inbetween revisions, I like to review screenwriting craft and learn new techniques. Just when I think I know everything, there's always more.

My script is going through a revision right now. I cut out scenes that didn't move the story forward. I've fixed a number of plot holes and inconsistencies. And I'm using a number of the advanced screenwriting techniques. They make a difference.

When I'm done with the revisions in a couple months, my script will be closer to ROCKING.

My goal: Three recommends from industry readers by April 2007 (two more revisions)

Later this year, I'll submit my script to the following competitions:

> American Zoetrope Screenwriting Competition

> American Screenwriters Association, International Screenplay Competition

And I'll get analysis/development notes for my revised script.

Right now, I'm still in the Writers Storm, Nichols, and ScriptPimp competitions. We'll see how it goes.

Oh, one intangible that keeps me writing through thick and thin: I have a great passion for writing and for the story I'm telling. It's a story that I was meant to write. I truly believe that. And hopefully that comes through in the plot, the characters, and the theme.

Jim Cirile said...

Awesome, Tom! You are an inspiration. Everyone: Tom's got the plan. Follow his lead. He's got the right attitude and the willingness to learn and improve. Go, Tom!

Signman said...

I prefer to stay out of the blog battles, but I think that it's unfortunate that people vent so shamelessly (and anonymously) instead of trying to provide constructive feedback and/or trying to understand the whole concept.

It cost only $35 to enter this contest. Even without feedback, that's the least expensive I've seen. With feedback (however minimal it is) it's a deal and a half. Would it be better to get more detailed feedback and pay more? Slamdance charges $70 for entry with a couple pages of coverage. If you have the money, then that might be better. However, for a starving artist such as myself, I preferred the additional script I was able to enter and double my chances of getting one of them noticed. It's great to get feedback, but having a script advance in a competition is very useful in getting my script read by the people who can help get it sold/produced.

Now, if your 105 pages of pride and joy got rejected, it might be painful, but it happens. It's always a subjective process, but usually the more general the comments are, the more serious a problem your script has. How can a reader focus on a more specific dialogue problem or with a particular character if the core structure of your story is flawed? At least use the ratings at the bottom as a way to focus your own analysis of your scripts strengths and weaknesses. This is the only way you can continue to move forward in a business of relentless rejection.

Anonymous said...

Just a brief suggestion for future competitions...

For those who advance beyond the first cut, I think it would be interesting to get some idea of why you didn't go further whenever you are eliminated -- i.e. did the new reader have a completely different opinion of your script or were the evaluations consistent and maybe a "Consider" isn't good enough to make the semifinals? Perhaps everyone could be emailed after each round with the new reader's ratings for Premise/Characters/Dialog/Structure. I think this would be helpful without being too time consuming for the readers.

That said, I have had a great experience with your competition. I had already paid for a script analysis with another service and the mini-analysis seemed to be right on with the coverage I received. Of course it has to be fairly generalized being only a paragraph in length, however I think it would have given me a good indication of which direction the next draft should take even if I didn't have the coverage. Thanks again...looking forward to future WOTS competitions -- this is as good as it gets for $35.

Anonymous said...

Signman,

People have the right to vent if the they feel like they have been cheated! And my bet is that most people, including myself, who stay anonymous, are fearful of being unfairly labelled something or another for speaking up on what is right. I think we can all agree that the industry is small and that an open rant might potentially ruin one's chance of making it in this industry.

The $35 bucks for a screenplay contest with feedback (no matter how mini the analysis) is a bargain-- NO argument there. But when the feedback turns out to look more like a horoscope, then I think the whole process becomes suspect. I, too, am a starving artist, but would much rather pay $70 bucks for a few legitimate pages than pay $35 for something vague and useless.

It's nice hear that your feedback is great, but I don't believe everyone can purport the same thing. I cannot express just how incredibly vague and insulting my analysis was. My analyst got the tempo of the genre wrong, he/she described my protagonist incorrectly and made several general comments, which can be applied to just about every movie out there. It lacked specificity and there can be no explanation than that the script was simply not read.

I don't believe this is about rejection as I expected fully to get rejected. What turned me on about this contest was that I would find out why I got rejected. I was not looking for coverage, but some specific comments--- like the one, which the WOTS people used as an example.

As for your comment "the more general the comments are, the more serious a problem your script has", my analyst did not have any problems, really and in fact, was very complimenting--- in a very very very vague way that is.

And while WOTS is to be commended for keeping the BLOG, I would think that it is a little too late now to kinda just pull it as it would raise more doubts than anything. There intent all along was to bolster support for their business--- they've just been forced to take a detour...

Jim Cirile said...

My friend, exactly what sort of detour have we been forced to take? Do you think we are afraid of constructive criticism? On the contrary. If so I would have enabled comment approval on the blog and would have eliminated any negative posts! I can do that, you know. That in and of itself hopefully tells you a little bit about us.

So far, only 2 people have taken me up on my offer to personally read the first 20 or so pages of their scripts so that I can comment on whether the mini-analysis was accurate. I've already given out several pages of free notes. I am happy to do it and am reading them without any prejudice. In the one I've read so far I found that I agreed with the mini-analysis, but I also clarified for the writer with specific examples of issues generalized in the mini-analysis.

I have stated publicly if you have a problem, come to me and I will personally deal with it. I'm not sure how much more WOTS -- or anyone else -- for that matter could do beyond that. It is entirely possible that the reader slacked and glossed over your particular script, but I can't do much about it if you don't contact me directly.