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Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Great Place for a Screenwriter to Get Their Manuscript Read


Sometimes we writers get a little... focused on our level of the writosphere and we forget that the writing family has a lot of relatives, the novelists, the poets, the lyrists, screenwriters... flashers (flash fiction) and more.
I could never be a screenwriter. I just have too many words floating around and could never break it down for screen. With that said, I do love watching movies and tv shows so I wanted to take a moment and share some information that may be of interest to those writers of a visual kind.
Scriptapalooza is an internetional screenplay competition that reviews 1,000s of scripts and has some great industry support. Scriptapalooza president, Mark Andrushko, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me on this event.
1.Can you tell me a little bit about how Scriptapalooza came to be?

About 9 years ago, a lot of my personal friends were writers and always telling me how discouraged they were with screenplay competitions - they would send their script to competitions and hear nothing back and what really annoyed them was that they didn't know who was reading their script if anyone? Basically the other competitions would say, "Read by Hollywood producers," well who are these people? Because they never mentioned any info on the judges...What Scriptapalooza did was we listed on our website every company that reads, the person's name and their title. We have over 70 producers, managers and agents reading every entry that comes in.
2. I see it's the 9th annual - how has the event grown since its first year?

The first couple of years were tough; we were cold calling producers to read our winners, now everyone calls us to see the winners, runners-up etc...
3. How many entries does the Scriptapalooza usually receive?

Anywhere between 3500-4000 per year.
4. There are over 70 production companies and agents listed as the entities reviewing the scripts. Overall - what are they looking for?

Since we deal with so many companies, they are looking for everything...we have producers that just want horror or animation. Basically every genre is needed by all these 70 companies.
Is there a percentage of how many entrants see something come from participation in the competition?

The good thing about Scriptapalooza is that if you win 1st place or you are just a Semifinalist, your script will be pushed for an entire year.
5. It sounds like you have some exciting news about past entrants, like Craig Clyde. How do you think their participation has helped develop their project or improve their craft?

We open the doors for them, they write great scripts, and we have the connections to get them a meeting, an agent, get their script optioned, sold and eventually made.
6. The Scriptapalooza has some fantastic support from writer's groups and entertainment agencies, how has that impacted the competition?

It validates everything we do...Robert McKee has said that Scriptapalooza is the best screenplay competition out there, Writers Guild of America west and Writers Guild of Canada both endorsed us...so it feels good, people are recognizing that we work for the writer.
7. What do you think is the most important component of a successful script entered into the competition?

Great storytelling and great dialogue.
8. What words of advice do you have for writers trying to break into the industry?

I'm very honest with everyone, it's a very difficult business to get into, but if you're a great writer you'll float to the top eventually.
9. How can entering contests and competitions help advance the writer's career?

Competitions are good way to get your work out there and see what people think. But make sure you only submit your script to reputable competitions, such as Nichols and Scriptapalooza. They are many competitions are there that don't really do anything, do your homework and judge for yourself before submitting.

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