* This post was recognized and redistributed by the BlueCat Screenplay Competition.
We hear it all the time. If you want to write a better screenplay, get feedback and listen to it.
But I promise you this: the feedback you get from contest readers, other writers, and even friends and family will not be consistent. Readers will contradict one another, you’ll get mixed messages even from single readers, and figuring out how to use any of it to build a better screenplay will be overwhelming.
A few years ago I attended a talk with Sony’s Sam Dickerman. My favorite observation of his was that when producers say “That’s great, but can we add aliens somewhere?” they don’t literally mean “add aliens”. They mean they’re looking for something spectacular and unexpected, and it’s your job to understand what result they’re looking for, and find ways to deliver on that while remaining true to your story (and yourself).
So what do you do? Continue reading
In my original article “10 Things To Think About When You Option Your Screenplay” I included the passage:
“…negotiate the rights to any changes or alternative versions created by the producer or on behalf of the producer during the option period. In other words, if the script reverts back to you, so should the rights to any changes made to the script while the producer had it. Otherwise, you’ve got your script back, but the producer potentially still has rights to their version… and now you’re in competition with another version of your script that you don’t control. That’s not a place you want to be.”
But was I right?
I recently received some guidance on that point from Adam Levenberg of HireAHollywoodExec.com.
“Technically what you wrote is not correct. In the case of rights reversion, you are not competing with the ‘producer’s draft’ because the producer does not have the rights to shop, sell, or produce their version. But you are correct that without proper language in the contract, the producer does hold on to the rights to those ‘producer drafts’.”
I thought you should hear more from Adam, so I’m turning the blog over to him. Here’s what he’s got to say. Continue reading
“beautifully written … unusual and unique … terrifying, gruesome and disgusting … well-rounded, complex characters”
[Faeries is a feature length horror screenplay, and is available for option or purchase.]
We’ve received a third round of notes from another Bluecat Screenplay Competition judge. We received our first feedback from Bluecat (see it here) a few weeks ago, and took the opportunity to make some adjustments based on those notes, and resubmit (Bluecat is great about that… your first submission gets notes from two readers, and writers can resubmit their screenplays for a third opinion after making modifications if they choose).
This third set of notes confirmed the success of the adjustments we’d made, and echoed the positive comments of those first readers. We’re proud of the terrific reception the screenplay is getting, and wanted to share the notes here. Emphasis mine. Continue reading
“…awesome, intense, unusual and original … sickly satisfying … [keeps] the audience at the edge of their seats … the only way to do horror movies”
Our horror screenplay Faeries has received coverage from the BlueCat Screenplay Competition … two sets, actually, from two different readers.
The BlueCat competition is a terrific contest, and the dual coverage makes it well worth the submission price. They’ve got a great philosophy of dedication to improving the writer’s craft, and I consider them to be one of the top 5 competitions worth submitting to. This note from founder Gordy Hoffman says it all:
What can you take from feedback from two people? Will it actually provoke more questions than answers? Perhaps. It’s profoundly revealing to me the very serious principle of subjectivity, the idea that everyone is simply a person providing a reaction. Take what you can, look again in a week, and take some more. Keep pressing yourself to learn how to listen to your audience. It’s the most overlooked skill of the screenwriter, and highly invaluable. – Gordy Hoffman
So what did BlueCat have to say? Here are a few selective excerpts*. Continue reading
“…the horror builds … an unusual creature … well written … above average … there is much to like here.”
Faeries gets some lovin’ from the SlamDance judges panel.
Faeries, possibly the best unproduced horror screenplay about pack hunting, echo locating, semi-sentient proto-humanoids currently making the rounds of Hollywood, just got some good feedback from one of the country’s most respected screenplay competitions.
“…the use of the faeries is an unusual creature, the characters are above average and the author strives to give them some depth and individuality … the story moves at a nice pace. The build is very strong. The author doesn’t try to rush things and make everything happen immediately or too fast, but lets the horror build. The early scenes especially have an unease about them (as one character points out, there’s something wrong or off about it all). All in all, there is much to like here.”
We appreciate that, SlamDance. And you’re in good company… both Shriekfest and WildSound have had praise for Faeries as well.
“A lively, unusual slasher movie that delivers plenty of gore, and introduces a new set of monsters that could be worth a franchise”
– Shriekfest Screenplay Competition