Faeries at Shriekfest Film Festival

chip-at-raleigh-studios

Shriekfest Screenplay Competition finalists include "Faeries" by Chip Street and Sean Meehan.

Let’s get the news out of the way right off the bat: Faeries did not bring home an award in the screenplay competition. But the good news is, the grapevine tells us that we were a very close runner up, and an unofficial judge ‘s favorite for commercial appeal and shootability. Moreover, we walked away with two producers interested in reading the script, and one well-respected studio reader itching to rep it to a few prodcos. So we’re still chuggin’ along.

shriekfest-posters

But we did make it to Hollywood for the Shriekfest Festival, and win or lose, what a gas! Founder and fest director Denise Gossett, her most excellent husband and a bevy of dedicated volunteers put on a really fun, intimate, quality fest on the grounds of Raleigh Studios. Denise is a certified Scream Queen in her own right whose next project, the horror comedy Crustacean, is already in post-production. Continue reading Faeries at Shriekfest Film Festival

paying to pitch

There are lots of sites and services that charge writers or filmmakers for the opportunity to “pitch” their projects. And there are just as many filmmakers and writers who decry the practice as an outright scam focused on simply taking the money of starry-eyed newbies with no intention of ever really making their movie (see the recent Nehst Studios post).

Sometimes those same writers and filmmakers pay for pitch sessions as adjuncts to seminars, festivals and etc, like the Great American Pitchfest. Unknown writers put out hundreds of dollars, maybe a couple thousand when you include travel lodging and food, to go to the Pitchfest in LA. They get to pitch their unknown project(s) to a bunch of “producers”, some of whom are legit, some of whom possibly are not, none of whom have ever heard of said writer, or have ever shown any interest in his work. They only agree to hear his pitch because he PAID. And many such writers seem to think this is a great opportunity, completely legitimate, money well spent, an investment in their careers, etc.

I still don’t understand why some folks insist that a Pitchfest makes sense, but when ONE producer or website makes the same offer, it’s a scam. It may be a scam, if that particular producer is a thief. But why is it by definition a “scam”, when a Pitchfest is a legitimate “opportunity”?

I’d love to hear examples and experiences about Pitchfest-esque events, individual producers/agents/managers who charge for pitch sessions, and online sites that charge to connect you with pitching opportunities.

And I’ll be writing a comparative blog soon on sites like VirtualPitchFest.com, GreenWriter.org, InkTip.com and ScriptStork.com, who charge (or not) to host your projects in the hopes of connecting you with a legitimate producer.

the rise of the unsuperhero.

greatest american heroSure, superheroes are all over the silver screen. And that’s great for the comics publishers (who get to license the rights to their IP) and great for producers and studios (cuz it’s easier to sell a movie that’s based on an existing brand). But it sucks for the spec screenwriter who doesn’t have said rights (and thus would be wasting his/her time writing an adaptation of, say, The Tick) and still wants to write a superhero movie.

So what’s a spec screenwriter who wants to put their stamp on the superhero genre to do?

Is there room for a nonbranded, unknown superhero at the box office? Well sure. There’s a legacy of unknown heroes, from Cannell’s Greatest American Hero TV series to Wayans’ Blankman, from the borderline brilliant Unbreakable through the very cute Sky High, from the wonderful The Incredibles to the watchable but forgettable My Super Ex-Girlfriend and lastly the simply unwatchable Zoom (somebody needs to apologize for this movie). And need we even mention TV’s Heroes? Continue reading the rise of the unsuperhero.

i will not read your fucking script but if i read your fucking script appreciate my fucking feedback

A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson seems kinda pissed.

Apparently he gets asked to read a lot of scripts.

Apparently most of them are crap.

And apparently nobody really wants his honest feedback.

So he wrote a scathing essay over at The Village Voice, outlining just how much this all sucks. Continue reading i will not read your fucking script but if i read your fucking script appreciate my fucking feedback

Faeries is a finalist at Shriekfest

faeries-posterWell, I told you just days ago that our horror screenplay Faeries had made it to the semi-finals of the 2009 Shriekfest screenplay competition.

The news just got better.

Faeries has now advanced to the finals, baby! Looks like we’ll be heading down to Hollywood again next month, to attend the fest. We will, of course, keep you all posted on the final results, about the trip, and about the fest itself.

Faeries makes semi-finals at Shriekfest

faeries-poster

Our horror script “Faeries” has made the semi-finals in the Shriekfest Horror and Sci Fi Film Festival screenplay competition.

Chip and Sean,
Your screenplay has been selected as a semi-finalist in the 2009 Shriekfest Screenplay competition.  Congratulations on making it this far.  The judges are currently in the process of selecting the finalists for the festival.  We will be contacting everyone sometime this coming week.  Thank you for your patience.

Don’t know if we get laurels for it, but I’ll take it anyway. Not bad for a script we wrote in 6 weeks, huh?

And let’s not forget that Faeries is also under consideration by a prodco in Vancouver

Everybody cross your fingers for the finals… it’s a solid script and deserves some more lovin’.

[CLICK FOR UPDATE…]

write club screenplay challenge

WriteClub_squareThere’s a new blog in town… Write Club Screenplay Challenge is a simple little blog that sets up mini-challenges for screenwriters. It’s like one of those 48-hour filmmaker’s challenges, but you don’t have to make a whole movie. You just have to write it.

The site is designed to offer motivation to get writers to write; it allows for socializing with, and feedback from, your peers; and it’s good fun.

Write Club was inspired by the John August website. Although John is a busy busy man, he occasionally finds time to offer his blog readers a “scene challenge” — wherein John sets up parameters, and invites readers to post “entries”. Similarly, Write Club will set up new challenges, with professional “referees” who will not only define the challenges, but judge the results, choosing a winner and a few close seconds.

THE FIRST CHALLENGE has been posted today, September 1st 2009.

This should be good fun. Pass the word around…

no nicholl for you!

Did I mention? Both scripts were turned down by the Nicholl.

I was heartbroken.

Well, no, not really. But a little disappointed. It does feel good to be in the majority, though. From the Nicholl:

With a record number of entries and a readily apparent increase in quality, this year’s Nicholl Fellowships was more competitive than in any previous year.  Now that scores have been tallied for all 6,380 entries, we have to inform too many writers of scripts featuring compelling stories, intriguing characters and excellent craft that they have not advanced into the next round.  Regrettably, Grampa Was A Superhero was not one of the 321 entries selected as a Quarterfinalist in the 2009 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.

You should realize that while we strive to make the evaluation of screenplays as objective a process as possible, it is inherently both a personal and an extremely subjective matter.  A lack of success here may not have any bearing on your reception in the marketplace where a sale is the ultimate measure of success.  I’ll even venture a prediction: several non-advancing writers will become professional screenwriters in the near future.

To tell you a little about the process: each script was read once.  After receiving an initial positive evaluation, over 2,700 scripts garnered a second read.  Just under 800 scripts were read a third time.  Each read resulted in a numerical score being awarded.  Scores for each entrant’s script were totaled, and the Quarterfinalists were selected on the basis of highest scores.

Since then I talked to a friend who talked to an L.A. reader, who said:

Yeah, Nicholl. We’ve met finalists before. Nothing seems to happen for them. They’re in the same boat. Good script, looking for work…

Then talked to another good friend who has quarterfinaled in the Nicholl twice. His comment (to paraphrase):

Yeah, it didn’t do anything for me. Maybe ten requests to see the scripts, nothing came of it, here I am.

Me, I’m so glad I couldn’t reach those grapes. They look so sour.

Maybe they’ll be ripe next year.

diary of a studio reader

Liz Maccie, studio reader, has a nice list of professional insights over at the BOSI site

About two and a half years ago, I got the wonderful opportunity to become a “reader” for a studio, think mouse house. I continue to work for them under a freelance status and absolutely love my job.

Being a reader means you literally read materials such as scripts, novels, and teleplays. Then you write up “coverage,” entailing a synopsis of the plot as well as an analysis of the story elements.

Finally, you either recommend the piece for further consideration or pass on the material. All in all, it is a fantastic fun job that has made me, hands down, a better writer, simply because absorbing stories on a daily basis has helped sharpen my tools for defining story.

After reading literally hundreds of scripts, here are some tid-bits that may be of value to you on your journey to becoming a produced writer.

more…

My favorite: Tid-bit #2: Create and maintain genuine friendships.

coen brothers "a serious man" trailer and script

The trailer for the Coen Brothers new film “A Serious Man” has been released…

and the script is available at their site (pdf).

God I love these guys. Big, sloppy fawning unmitigated man-love these guys.

When you look at a list of their projects — Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, and Burn After Reading (and that’s not all of them) — it’s just stunning. I mean holy shit. They’re not just good movies. They’re not just really good movies. They’re experimental, brave, complicated, unique, and varied. They’re almost all brilliant in some aspect of the word, and certainly none are “average”.

My writing partner and I had a conversation many years ago, that went something like “Would you rather be Isaac Asimov and write 200 or more mediocre books, or Kurt Vonnegut, and write far fewer really amazing and challenging books?”

We both answered “Vonnegut” (and that answer of course assumes you’re capable of writing like Vonnegut).

The Coen Brothers are my screenwriting Vonneguts. They’ve got the goods. They are what I aspire to be. Just once.

</mancrush>