The past few weeks I've been working with the Writers on the Storm Top Ten. I've had lengthy chats with each of them -- talented writers all -- and we've been going through the scripts with my feedback, and in some cases, with the feedback from the CI analysts who covered the scripts.
What I've discovered is pretty interesting. The first thing I noticed is that two of our winners have Masters Degrees in Screenwriting, while another two went through the UCLA Professional Program (our winner, Bob Rhyne, starts next week at the UCLA Professional Program.) And another one of our Top Ten has taken classes at UCLA Extension and Writers Boot Camp. That's six of the Top Ten who have had higher education in screenwriting. Mind you, we had no idea of this going in, and contest judge Hal Ackerman, co-head of the UCLA Screenwriting Dept., insisted that the scripts be anonymous -- we tore off the cover pages before we sent them to him. Interesting, eh?
A few of our top ten are represented; but only a few of them are actually satisfied with their representation (big shocker.)
But here's the most interesting thing. The very talented Keli Rowley, who wrote the animated comedy/adventure Danny Longlegs, told me she placed 3rd in this year's Scriptapalooza contest. That's two strong contest showings in a month -- a true testament to that fact that cream rises. But when I spoke to Keli, I'd discovered that Scriptapalooza had already sent her script out to their list. This baffled me. No slight against her or her script, but why would any contest do this?
We've spent the better part of a month developing the top ten scripts with our Writers on the Storm winners so that when the scripts go out, they can put best foot forward. Some of the writers embraced the process and really dug in; a few others were less interested in doing so; that's fine in either case. But here's the thing: we are putting our reputation on the line when we send out that list (later this week.) It is VERY important that these scripts be as good as they can be for both the writers' sakes and our own. In the case of every single script, we found issues that could and should be addressed. As a result, our top ten scripts are ALL better than they were a month ago. So the scripts we are sending to the town we are confident in.
It boggles my mind how a big contest like Scriptapalooza can simply throw their scripts out there to the town. Again, no slight to the writers. I'm sure their scripts are good enough as is to attract attention. But are they as good as they CAN be? As a writer, wouldn't you want to do every single thing you possibly can to make your script as good as it can be BEFORE it goes out?
Anyway, that's not what we're about. We are going to do everything we can to get these writers attention, and that includes helping them up their game and their craft and marketing savvy. Because damn it, that's what a contest should be, don't you think?