Sunday, March 21, 2010

 

Script Pimp 2010

Think you got the best screenplay going? Then Script Pimp is looking for you!

Now in its 8th year, the 2010 Script P.I.M.P (Pipeline Into Motion Pictures) Competition is searching for the best stories told by the best screenwriters worldwide. Entries are judged by literary managers, producers, professional analysts and writers, and development directors from the film industry.

The competition is open to adults 18 years old or older and entries must be original. Submissions should be feature-length screenplays, and all genres, styles, lengths, etc. are welcomed. There’s no limit on number of entries allowed and simultaneous submissions are allowed (i.e. you can enter other screenwriting contests with the same script).

The deadline is May 1, 2010 and there’s a fee of $50 per entry. Submitting scripts in PDF, Final Draft (.fdr), or Microsoft Word (.doc) is preferred.

There will be four Grand Prize winners receiving $14,000 total in cash and additional prizes. Twenty finalists will receive $3,200 total in cash and additional prizes. All finalists will receive a $250 travel voucher to attend the Script Pimp Awards Ceremony July 2010 at Writers Boot Camp in Santa Monica, CA.

Complete competition guidelines are available online at the Script Pimp site. For any questions, contact Contest Director Chadwick Clough by email at comp@scriptpimp.com or by phone at 310-401-1155.

Still interested? Get over to Script Pimp.com and enter. Who knows, your script may be the next Tinseltown blockbuster! Good luck!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out!: "From Almost Famous . . . To the Cutting-room Floor," Guest Post by Dallas Nicole Woodburn

FROM ALMOST FAMOUS . . . TO THE CUTTING-ROOM FLOOR

by Dallas Nicole Woodburn

Soon, my face will be on that big screen, I thought, as the plush theater seats steadily filled around me for the red-carpet premiere. I’ll be famous!

Okay, almost famous. Or, maybe, recognizable. Possibly. Around campus.

“Why are you here, dear?” asked the Versace-dressed woman beside me in the center-aisle VIP second-row seats.

I tried, but failed, to hide my smile. “I’m in The Movie,” I said, excitement overwhelming any small dose of humility I possessed.

Okay, so maybe movie isn’t the right word. It was more of a short film; a documentary to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the University of Southern California, where I was a freshman majoring in Creative Writing. As a student with two published books to my name (first editions still available!) they interviewed me twice, for more than an hour each time, asking all sorts of questions: Why did you choose USC? Do you like the writing program? If you see Pete Carroll, will you get his autograph for me?

I spoke about the energy and school spirit on campus, how President Sample (who had come across my second book) wrote me a personal letter welcoming me to the university, and I mentioned I was looking forward to having T.C. Boyle, one of my favorite authors, as a professor in upcoming years. I was thoughtful, I was eloquent, I was charming. “You’re a natural,” the cameraman told me.

Now. The lights went down. I patiently fidgeted through each big-screen interview, until suddenly my face appeared, as huge as Dan Brown’s advance check.

“I’m sooooo excited about having T.C. Boyle as a professor!” On-Screen Me gushed.

The camera cut to Professor Boyle, looking as Hollywood as ever in his trademark red Converse high-tops, a suit-jacket over a black T-shirt, and sunglasses hanging from a bead Zen-like necklace. “I think I provide an inspiration for them,” he said. He paused, then added the punchline – and punch to my stomach: “Because they think, if he can do it, anybody can!”

He laughed.

I cringed.

I waited for the film to return to me – this time Calm Me, regaining face with a more poised comment – but soon the closing music swelled, the credits rolled, the lights came up, and it was Over. Finished. My starring role was reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it line that made me seem like a teeny-bopper with a crush. Meanwhile, my two hours – minus eight seconds – of brilliant interview lay on the digital-age equivalent of the cutting room floor. I might be “a natural,” but I decided, then and there, to stick with screenwriting.

* * *

“If you're writing screenplays, STOP IT!” Ray Bradbury exclaimed, his voice filling the packed auditorium. “Hollywood’s full of $#*&!”

The audience roared, but his words made me shrink. If the great Ray Bradbury has trouble selling scripts, surely I’m full of $#*& for thinking I can.

And yet, here I was nine months later at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, teaching a workshop for young writers – and also slipping into the highly acclaimed Walter Dallenbach’s screenwriting workshop whenever I got a chance. Here, I joined a group of two-dozen other Hollywood hopefuls to read our screenplays aloud for “flow,” all of us dreaming that our script will become the next Sundance surprise.

“I was walking in downtown L.A. last week,” Walter told us, “and I randomly asked ten people what problem they were having with their screenplay. Of those ten people, only two gave me strange looks and said they weren’t working on a screenplay – the remaining eight of them launched into detailed descriptions of their plot holes and character troubles.” A few people laughed. “I’m not joking,” Walter insisted. “Hollywood’s full of $#*&&% screenwriters!”

* * *

The final night of the Santa Barbara conference, T.C. Boyle – wearing his trademark ensemble of red high-top Converse sneakers and T-shirt/suit jacket – read a sneak snippet from his latest book. Incredibly, the guy still doesn’t know who I am, even aft er I sent him a copy of my book, introduced myself at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, and cornered him in the English department elevator, where I lamely stammered “Y-y-yes” when he asked what floor I wanted.

Even though a number of his novels have been made into feature films, Boyle echoed Bradbury’s comments, saying: “I don’t fool around with screenplays. I sell the rights and let Hollywood deal with it.”

Later, T.C. – who had been introduced by his full name, Thomas Coraghessan Boyle – signed books. I joined the long line of eager fans, hoping he hadn’t yet gotten a restraining order against me for stalking. Fifteen minutes later, I was staring at my nervous reflection in Boyle’s mirrored sunglasses, while he read my name from the sticky-note placed on the book’s title page to speed up the process. “Dallas . . .” he said, the syllables rolling slowly off his tongue, as if perhaps I was indeed vaguely familiar, then noticed my “Young Writers Program Faculty” name-tag. “How were the kids?” he asked, gesturing to it with his pen.

“I had a lit agent talk to them yesterday,” I said, trying to coolly, and finally, make a memorable impression. “He told the class he’s interested in anything – fiction, nonfiction, thrillers, romance. Anything except science fiction or fantasy. Then, he went around the room and asked each kid, one by one, what kind of book they’re working on, and, one by one, they told him, ‘Fantasy. Science fiction. Fantasy. . .’ Nothing but science fiction and fantasy, all twenty-four of them!”

The moment stretched seemingly as long as a Peter Jackson movie, and then . . . he laughed. Thomas Coraghessan Boyle laughed.

“You’re a natural,” T.C. said. I beamed, even though I knew the compliment was pure Hollywood: full of $#*&.

* * *

Dallas Woodburn, 22, is the author of two collections of short stories and a forthcoming novel. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in the literary magazines Monkeybicycle, Arcadia Journal, Cicada, The Newport Review, and flashquake, among others. She has also written articles for Family Circle, Writer's Digest, Motherwords, and The Los Angeles Times. Find out more about her nonprofit literacy foundation and youth publishing company at www.writeonbooks.org and http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com/

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

 

Tip for Screenplay Writers (and NaNoWriMo Writers Too)

"I've been doing something that I thought I'd invented myself and then I discovered in a conversation with Jim Cameron and then I read in an interview with George Lucas where he talked about the trick that Francis Ford Coppola taught him and it turns out everybody's doing the same thing. We never read what we write. I know that sounds preposterous but the point is you don’t edit while you’re writing. We don’t even dare look at what we're writing until it looks like there's around a hundred pages. It sounds nuts but when you have a hundred pages and then you finally look at them, you have the aesthetic distance to edit yourself."

-Steven Souza, screenwriter

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Friday, May 02, 2008

 

At the Movies

Certain things happen over and over in movies that just don't reflect real life. For some Friday fun, we'll take a look at a few of these silly Hollywood clichés. Here are a handful of examples from a longer list called Things We've Learned from the Movies:

* During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

* The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.

* In school, teachers will always be interrupted mid-sentence by the end-of-class bell.

* Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

* It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

* A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

* Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.

* If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.

* The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

* A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince in agony when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

* All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.

* Once applied, lipstick will never rub off - even while scuba diving.

* Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning, even though the husband and children never have time to eat them.

* Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

* Building ventilation ducts are always clean.

* Grocery shopping bags are made out of brown paper and there is always enough shopping to fill two bags exactly.

*Large loft-style apartments in New York City are well within the price range of most people - whether they are employed or not.

*At least one of a pair of identical twins is born evil.


Maybe you have some of your own ideas to add to the list.

--MP

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

 

I Support the Writers' Strike, But. . .

I support the writers' strike. I do. And not only because I am a writer, and I know how hard it is to make any money. I have followed the strike a bit, and after signing my own book contract for the first time recently, I realize how every penny counts. Every right that you give away to a publishing or production company counts. Let's face it, without writers, without a lot of you that are reading this blog, all the magazines, newspapers, blogs, Web sites, books, TV shows, and movies we love wouldn't exist. These works become a part of our daily lives. They enter our dreams, our dinner discussions, even our blogs. Even reality TV shows need writers. Someone has to write Survivor host Jeff Probst's brilliant questions and explanations of the competitions. Have you seen him ad lib as a guest host on Regis and Kelly?

But the reason I bring up this strike today is one of the best television shows that I have watched in a long time is in trouble. I don't watch very much TV, and I TIVO everything I want to watch to save time on commercials. Anyway, I'm not sure if it's all because of the writers' strike or if it is not getting the ratings it needs (although it really should. REALLY, please read on.) Women's Murder Club (ABC), which is based on James Patterson's book series, is an excellent show. It caught my interest one day when I was home and vegging out, watching some daytime TV. Angie Harmon, who stars in the show, was on the publicity circuit and on The View. As soon as I heard it was based on Patterson's novels, I was interested. Even if you don't want to admit it, most writers DREAM of someone calling them and saying, "Uh, yeah, we would really love to turn your book into a TV SHOW or even a MOVIE." Come on, admit it, don't you want to see your characters live on screen? Patterson is with the creative process all the way with this series, which makes it even better in my opinion.

Angie Harmon described the show as a cross between Law and Order and Sex in the City (also a book.) It is that and more. If you haven't caught an episode, go to ABC.com and watch one-- in your spare time, of course. I don't want you to use my advice on this blog as an excuse for not meeting those writing goals you set on January 1. Study the characters, the dialogue, the storyline. What makes me care so much about Lindsay Boxer (Angie Harmon's character?) I don't know, but I want to figure it out, so I can put the same kind of care and skill into creating my main character for my YA novel. Patterson, my hats off to you!

I support the writers' strike. I do. But I want my show back. I don't want the writers to give in. I want them to get fair treatment. I want them to get all the residuals they deserve. I also want all the writers for Women's Murder Club back at their laptops with their coffee and telling me what is going to happen with the Kiss Me Not Killer!

Maybe I should look at this positively. I will have more time to reach my own New Year's writing goals without this series on air. I will have more time to read Patterson's novels, too. But, I'm sure many of you feel this way about your own shows. Let us know. Everyone needs the chance to vent, and here's a place to do it. Happy writing!

Margo Dill
www.margodill.com

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