Confessions of a Screenplay Contest Reader

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by Naomi Write + Co. in entertainment industry, screenwriting
screenwriting blog article

I vowed never again, but here I am: judging screenplays for a competition.

And actually, it’s the best time I’ve ever had reading for a contest. It’s one of the big ones. Very reputable. They run it well and there’s a marked difference in the level of these screenplays from those entered in other contests. Writers who advance in this contest start getting scouted even before the final round. If you’re going to enter screenwriting contests, it’s one of the best.

So that’s all good.

But if I’m being totally honest, I feel bad about the feedback these writers will receive.


Don’t get me wrong – I know the writers will receive comments that are made with the best of intentions, from myself and any of the other judges. We take the job seriously and we’re all as honest and accurate as possible.

Every script entered in this contest is read in its entirety – which you would think would be industry standard, but trust me – not so. Lesser contests don’t have that sort of standard in place. I like being part of something with so much integrity. And it makes me feel like they value the work I’m doing, which is nice too.

Yet, I know a lot of writers enter contests for the feedback. But what they may not realize is if a screenplay contest offers feedback at all, what the writer receives is probably minimal.

Most of the writers whose scripts I read will only receive the summary section of my reader notes — the “overall impression” portion — even though I wrote more than that. (The rest are used internally, but not given to the writers.)

And that keeps me up at night. Because I feel like I have a relationship with these writers now. Even though I don’t know their names, and they’ll probably never know it was me who read their scripts. I’m a writer too and I know how it feels to ask someone to weigh in on a draft of your script. I know the sweat, tears, coffee, whiskey, and time that went into those screenplays.

And no matter how diligent any of us contest readers are, four or five sentences of feedback can’t do justice to the work that went into the script. It certainly can’t offer the kind of really specific, targeted, helpful feedback that I would want to get, and that I want to give.

And I know how that feels too – having someone drop criticism in your lap without explaining it. That’s pretty much the worst.

Screenplay feedback is most effective when it’s a conversation, you know? When I can ask you what you were going for with a particular choice, or when I can tell you what my impression was and together we can gauge how far off that was from where you were aiming. And then brainstorm solutions to get you to the target.

But since you can’t have that conversation with your screenplay contest reader, I thought I’d shed a little light on the most common issues I’m seeing in the scripts I’m reading right now. These are the things I find myself commenting on over and over again.

They’re probably going to seem pretty obvious to you. But it means something when the same issues keep cropping up – especially amongst a batch of scripts that are actually pretty good in the grand scheme of amateur scripts. Maybe these “obvious” issues are harder to recognize in our own scripts than we want to admit.


“The concept lacks originality.”

Ouch. This often means one of two things:

Either the script’s concept is too similar to other existing movies (or spec scripts) and the writer hasn’t put an original spin or fresh take on it, or

It’s a familiar story (say, based on a fairy tale or a real life event) that hasn’t been done before in film, yet the writer hasn’t put an original spin or fresh take on it.

You might be saying, “But IP is all the rage right now! If I’m telling a story that already exists, then of course it’s going to feel familiar!”

Or, “How am I supposed to put an original spin on a real life event? It happened the way it happened!”

Sure. I feel you. But even using existing story material, the writer still needs to bring a perspective to it that makes the telling of that story unique and compelling in some way.

I mean, put yourself on the other side of the desk: if you were going to hire a writer to adapt material, you’d want to make sure he or she wasn’t just a transcriptionist, right? You’d want the writer to bring a little more vision than that.

If you’re struggling with how to unique-ify your screenplay concepts, check out the best article ever written on this subject: Terry Rossio’s “Strange Attractors” piece. (You should probably just put all of the Wordplayer articles in your reading queue.)

“It takes too long for the story to start.”

A first act issue, for sure, and usually related to the placement or nature of the Inciting Incident.

Often what the writer has intended to be the Inciting Incident doesn’t appear to the reader as having clear Inciting Incident properties. Meaning it doesn’t kick the story into motion in a way that the reader can track.

It’s possible that every screenwriting book that’s ever described the Inciting Incident as simply a “wakeup call” or a “knock at the door” has been doing writers a disservice. Because the Inciting Incident needs to do more than break a little news. It needs to cause a problem for the character.

That problem may seem like an opportunity rather than a true problem, but it still creates a situation that the protagonist wants to do something about.

And – just as crucially – the reader has to know that the problem exists, even if the character doesn’t. If your readers don’t recognize a problem has been created? We’re bored. We’re like, “When is something going to happen?!”

The problem the Inciting Incident creates is related to or indicative of what the protagonist will spend the rest of the movie doing and pursuing, so you’re giving readers a sense of where you’re taking them. We can sense you’re buckling us in for the ride.

It’s just the start of what will require some other wild journey, crazy plan, or heroic mission, which will be launched at the break into act 2, but we have to know, see, and feel that the Inciting Incident is beginning to lead us there.

“The story lacks conflict.”

A reader might comment that the story needs more big-picture conflict, or that the existing conflict is inconsequential, i.e. that characters are able to overcome it too easily and then the narrative continues on unaffected (at the story and/or scene level).

Sometimes a script really is lacking conflict, but other times it’s a matter of conveying it so that it makes an impact – so that your reader really gets the nature of the conflict and why it matters.

Since the feedback you get might not specify the root of the issue, you’ll probably have to evaluate this on your own. Here are a couple of strategies that should help:

+ Inspect the story’s foundation. Revisit your one sentence, or your logline. Make sure you can identify and articulate both the external and internal conflicts in the story. Gauge for yourself (and perhaps with the help of some trusted screenwriter friends) whether or not those conflicts are big enough to carry an entire screenplay.

+ Look to your beat sheet or outline, or make a new list of all the actions the protagonist takes to achieve his goal. For each one, list out what stops the action – whether that’s a counter-action by the antagonist, another type of obstacle, or new information that causes the protagonist to change direction.

Now, evaluate. Is the protagonist successful in his actions more often than not? That could be a problem. Do the actions and obstacles generally escalate in intensity over the course of the story? Do the obstacles cause visible effects on the story? Meaning, can the protagonist go right back to his original plan of attack after encountering an obstacle? Has something changed, internally or externally, from each encounter?

“Characters need to be fleshed out.”

Sometimes this refers to all characters, sometimes it’s everyone but the protagonist; usually a reader will specify.

A lot of writers spend time getting their main characters in order — developing flaws and motivations, giving them interesting layers, thinking about the story through their eyes — but what about the supporting characters? Too often they just feel like placeholders.

If you’ve received a note like this, try beating out each character’s story independently of the others. For a given character, this might be very few beats and they might even be solely in relation to the main character. Still, look at the story from each character’s point of view. This will help you see where you can explore and flesh out those relationships and supporting characters themselves, and help you locate opportunities to add different levels of conflict to your story.

“Can’t tell one character’s dialogue from another.”

This one’s related to the note above, and the root of it is pretty obvious, right? The writer hasn’t differentiated each character’s voice.

If one of the main functions of dialogue is to act as a constant expression of character, then dialogue really should start with identifying the defining characteristics that will be expressed. So here’s a hack to help address this note:

Write up a profile for each character. I don’t mean one of those long, boring, backstory-driven bios. I’m talking a 3×5 notecard that lists the character’s defining traits, whether that’s their worldview, two or three specific adjectives to describe their personality, a quote that represents their main strategy for surviving in life, their most valued virtue or vice; whatever handful of things make up the core of that character.

Then, have that notecard in front of you as you re-write the dialogue for each character, taking them one at a time.

When you write dialogue for more than one character at a time (what we do for at least the first several passes on a scene, right?), you’re thinking about the dialogue as a conversation, and as a way to convey what you need to in the scene. But if you take one character’s sides at a time, you can focus on how they’re saying what they’re saying.

You wouldn’t be able to use this approach too early in the scene-writing process. But at this point we’re talking about working on a script that’s basically all there, and just needs to be given a boost, taken to the next level.


So screenplay contests can help you figure out where you stand and can give you an idea of the areas of your script that readers aren’t totally sold on yet. But once you have those clues you’ll need to do your own critical thinking about your script, and probably pull it apart a bit to figure out how to fix it.

Rewriting is a multi-step (and iterative) process. Identify the problems. Identify the source of the problems. Make a plan to address. Implement the plan. Repeat.

Contest notes point out the problems, which can feel overwhelming and frustrating for the writer on the receiving end. But hey – you don’t have to tackle that rewrite alone. Having conversations with your readers – whether they’re your friends, writing group buddies, or mentors – will help you find your way forward.

  1. David McCartney says:

    Hi Naomi–First, let me say, I think all of your advice is very worthwhile and valid…and much appreciated, but I would like to give you a different take on screenwriting from someone who has lingered on the outer fringes for several years, and now has shifted my writing efforts from a career pursuit to a bucket list item. 30 years ago, when I wrote my Dutch Harbor and Apache Echo screenplays, agents actually read them before deciding if they were interested in representing them, and every one who read them, wanted them. But obviously they have never fallen into the right hands. Of course, it’s a different world now, and only contest judges are reading my Apache Echo screenplay (rewriting Dutch Harbor) and it continually places in the top five, including the American Movie Awards, Aura Screenwriter Awards and Screenplay Festival, but in recent times it has never been read in it’s entirety by an agent or production company. Why? For the most absurd of reasons. To touch on just a couple, one company passed because they couldn’t connect with the protagonist–in a two-paragraph synopsis! An agent passed because ONE scene description wasn’t written to their liking–really?

    Anyway, from my point-of-view, I don’t think every story falls into a rigid, meticulously-defined format, in some cases minute-by-minute structuring. I believe that some stories take their own direction. What is surprising is the amount of online classes, books, etc on how to write a screenplay, most of which are very specific…perhaps too specific? Does anyone really need to take 100 different classes or read 50 different books on how to write a screenplay? Where is the creative process and individual thought? If there is such a rigidly-defined, magic formula for success in Hollywood, why are box office receipts at a 20-year low? If you read this, thanks very much for your time. My Best, David

    1. Naomi says:

      Hi David, and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! It’s awesome that you’re continuing to rework existing screenplays — you obviously believe in the stories.

      Just from what you’ve said here, I would think — and of course feel free to disregard this if you’re not looking for additional input — it would make sense to enter your scripts into some of the prestige contests (Nicholl, Austin, etc.) The smaller contests generally don’t get much industry attention. If your scripts fare well in the top contests, that can be enough to open other industry doors. And then it’s up to your concept and writing to reel them in.

      Best of luck!

  2. Huw Henderson says:

    There are some good Competitions – if your work is good enough, although many push the paid-for rewrite notes aspect a bit hard. However, I’d recommend avoiding The Shore Scripts Competition. Really insulting. They failed to send me the updates/notifications they promised. When I queried this and asked them to send the emails which had never arrived, they started contradicting me. I then asked them to resend the emails, they ignored this, and got ruder. I asked them to either resend the promised notifications or refund the fee, and to identify which employee was sending these emails. They then went silent – which says it all. Zero out of 10 – that’s not the way to treat customers and representing £55 very poorly spent on an amateurish setup with its strange mix of well known and poor judges. Some both UK judges I know and will let them know how the company that uses their names really operates.

    1. Naomi says:

      Good to know. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. Michael Lance Ritter says:

    Dear Naomi,
    As a screenwriter, I truly appreciate your sincerity. I’m also a published author and editor and know both sides of writing. Editing, similar to judging, is usually not enjoyed by unpublished writers, but serious writers (as you know) virtually crave it! My screenplay certainly can be improved (BTW, an introduction to it is at if you’re interested). Can you recommend a reader or competition worth getting involved with? Again, thanks for your marvelous discussion on screenplay reviewers!

    1. Naomi says:

      Hey Michael! Thanks so much for your comment. Your Man of Two Worlds script sounds smart — based on a real person / true events gives it a lot of appeal, plus tons of action and romance to boot.

      The competitions I think are worth entering are the Nicholl Fellowship and the Sundance Labs. Having a win in either of those contests will open doors. Austin Fim Festival is reputable and well run as well, so I recommend it as a gauge for your own purposes. But as far as its benefits to your career, I know people who have gotten attention from placing in AFF, and others who say they didn’t get any additional attention so it’s maybe less effective in that way.

      As for readers, of course I recommend my own services first! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions I can answer.

      1. Rylan Williams says:

        Hi Naomi. Appreciate your efforts.
        I actually submitted to Austin Film Festival screenplay competition and the feedback was horrible. Not in the sense of demolishing my script, but to say that the person did not seem fit to be judging someone’s creative work. It was a horror film and almost every reason given for why my script didn’t get in either touched on a problem that was actually handled within the story, or listed a suggestion that conflicted with the premise and character motives.

        One example, the notes suggested there should have been more of a buddy relationship between the maniacal killer and a man that was trying to save people from the maniacal killer. They had one scene where their purposes were in line because of a common enemy, but to suggest that the antagonist killer and one of the protagonists of the story should have had more moments of connection is utterly ridiculous. There was two paragraphs of these types of notes, and it made me feel that the whole process was useless. If these are the gatekeepers, the ones that hold so many writer’s fates in their hands, then it feels hopeless. The thing is, I don’t know who I’m writing for and I don’t know what the screeners are really keying on. Are they looking at the technical aspect and ignoring the story? Do they even like the subject matter I am writing about? Would they have Loved the King’s Speech script but not liked Fight Club? Can they relate to stories told from an urban perspective? I wrote a story that no one has ever dared to write, with a killer no one had ever saw coming, in a comedic, seasonal thriller of a horror film. Yet the reader seemed to totally ignore the fresh take, craziness I put before them. No acknowledgement of the unique perspective and character twists. Just bad suggestion after bad suggestion that made me feel they missed the whole point of the movie, but more specifically, that they had no understanding of what makes a good horror film. It was like if someone had just watched Michael Jordan drop 50 in his prime and the headline written was, “MJ only gets 3 assists in close win.”

        At what point does a great, unique story overshadow its flaws? When does a weakness in technical aspect become minor in comparison to a story’s creativity and overall awesomeness? Of course I believe me script is awesome. Of course I believe, given this countries love of horror films and in particular unique horror films, it would do great at the box office. Of course there were technical aspects that I needed to tighten up. Of course something can always be better. I truly want creative feedback that will help me in my cause, but when it feels like the people judging me know less about the art than I do, it becomes very frustrating. I am not perfect, I am constantly writing and rewriting to improve on my flaws and become the best writer I can. I am searching out blogs like your own for advice and information. But I must say, it just feels more and more like these festivals are just about who you know or who recognizes you. I’m sure some unknowns are getting through, but it seems the window is narrow as hell.

        I see people wining contests and often times the scripts seem boring t me. The type of film that you would never want to watch twice. Or they touch on some dark aspect of life, female slave trade, sexual orientation grapples, etc… No knock, if that is your thing, go with it. So when I submit a banging as Western film, it seems like, “No thanks.” It’s not just how well you write but also about the topic of which you write. I also feel many cater their writing specifically to this point. And again, I feel like, well, I’m never getting in because I don’t want to write something specifically for the festival crowd, and I want to stay true to the stories I want to tell. Yes, I could write about genocide in Central Africa, but I don’t want to. Everything I write does say something about society, but above all else I want to entertain.

        Maybe I am off center here, but it is just how I feel as an outsider. Sorry this was so long, I could actually keep going on this subject, but I will spare you. This is a lot to take in. I try not be jaded and sour. I am working on a couple projects as we speak, for moving forward is the only way I know. I have turned two of my scripts into feature films, one in post, the other I recently got up on Amazon. I am a doer, I don’t just vent then sit on my hands. However, those films came out of my own pocket and I have not made that money back, like many filmmakers. I want to get on the radar of someone who can produce a project for me, but as I have discussed, it just seems more and more daunting. I feel at this point I could turn in the most perfect script ever, everything you have described, and I would still get the ‘ol, “Thanks for submitting! Unfortunately…” Maybe festivals aren’t for everyone. All I know is that they sure haven’t worked out for me.

        1. Naomi says:

          Hey Rylan!

          Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, and apologies that it took me a few days to respond.

          First of all, yes – I agree that the AFF feedback has gone downhill in recent years. The contest has grown so much that they started recruiting readers with no experience, and I think it’s now starting to show. The contest has had a good reputation for a while but if they continue on this way, in the next couple of years they won’t carry any value.

          I don’t think you can assume that AFF readers are the gatekeepers for the industry, though. I’ve seen them recruiting readers from far and wide. They’re bringing on readers that have ZERO industry experience. You would be better off getting feedback from The Black List service. As far as I know, they are still exclusively hiring people who have some industry experience.

          Also, festivals and contests are one way to break in but they’re not the only way. More often that not, I think it’s not one contest win that changes a writers’ fate. It’s more like a snowball effect. You get a little recognition from contests, you start networking with industry people, you make connections and get some opportunities, and then — after enough time — you become an overnight success. 🙂

          All that said, I would encourage you to not put too much stock in any one reader’s reaction. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. If you believe in your writing and your project, keep looking for your true fans. They’re out there, and that’s the kind of support and enthusiasm you need on your side in order to build a career or get a project made.

          Hope that helps, and hope you keep fighting the good fight!

  4. Michael G. McGlasson says:

    Dear Naomi: I am about to enter a screenplay contest for the first time in almost 20 years. The first time I sent out a script I won 2nd place (it was called Bandolier Entertainment). Since then, I have become a published author (Bear Manor Media) and have learned a helluva lot about writing. Here’s the most important thing that I finally realized after 20 years about screenwriting–in the “old days,” screenplays were called “photo plays.” Why? Because a movie is nothing more than moving pictures and each scene is a picture. Describe the picture in as few words as possible and use dialog to support the action/no action in the picture. Read the script for Sergio Leone’s “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” The first 13 minutes has no dialog, only pictures. Now you know why Quentin Tarantino loves Leone so much! Michael G. McGlassson

    1. Naomi says:

      Hi Michael – thank you for posting this! So true: “Describe the picture in as few words as possible and use dialog to support the action/no action in the picture.” That’s a great, concise explanation of the target you’re trying to hit with every screenplay. Good luck with your contest entry!

  5. Denise J. says:

    Hi Naomi,
    I found your blog because I, too, am currently reading for a screenplay contest and I keep seeing the same thing. The writing is good, and the characters, dialogue, and plot developed fairly well, but overall the scripts are just lacking. They seem to need more of everything — more action, more conflict, more character revealing, etc. It seems that the writers strive to hit a page count and think they’re done. I’m tempted to tell them to take a screenwriting class and develop a script with other people, but I ‘m much more diplomatic and try to point out the specifics of what I can see. Have you seen a similar problem?

    1. Naomi says:

      Hey Denise!
      Yes, I think especially if you’re reading for one of the contests that attract more polished entries, you’ll see that sort of bell curve in the scripts. A lot of hey-this-is-okay (or even pretty good) but only a few WOW scripts. And this may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that speaks to how achievable it is to write a competent script, but how hard it is to get a script to that level where it really delivers EVERYTHING, like you mentioned. That’s when readers remember it, want to talk about it, and want to pass it along to others. It’s a high bar, but one to keep striving for. 🙂 Thanks again for your note, and keep in touch!

  6. Diana McManus says:

    I’ve been reading for a local screenplay contest since 2008 and two years ago the contest started sending feedback to the writers of NO scripts along with the Yes or second round scripts. I’ve read for another contest that doesn’t send feedback to all of the writers who submit. My feedback tends to be more specific than general (which is what the contest wants) and I’ve gotten some complaints telling me my feedback is too harsh. I do stay positive and point out the strengths in the script, but I also like to be honest and point out that “characters tell too much of the story” or “it reads like a novel”. I was wondering what you think about sending feedback to writers of NO scripts in contests. I feel that most serious writers would want to know more specifics about their script. I also attend a screenwriting group once a week and we expect harsh feedback to learn from our mistakes.

  7. Sky says:

    Dear Naomi,
    Insightful and motivating thoughts and advice.
    I would be interested in your thoughts as where writing for contests/exposure/attachment guides writers and their ongoing screenwriting processes.
    I wondered if these pathways which are generally seen as stepping stones to actual employment do not funnel screenwriters into a generisised practice path’s that results in largely predictable outcomes leading to a number of the problems you highlighted (lack of originality, generic dialog etc).
    My thought is this, perhaps the goal’s and approaches to them could be better focused and directed allowing for more quality outcomes that are reflected on the page and the screen…
    I preface the proceeding by the face that I see a significant broad spectrum of international screenworks and what I do read has lead me to these questions…

    1. Naomi says:

      Hi Sky! That’s a really good question – one I’ve never considered before. I would believe that there is a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy involved, but maybe not as much as you think in the specific loop you’re talking about (generic scripts in contests leading to generic output in theaters). Mostly because it’s not a direct route from screenwriting contests to having movies produced. There’s a long route between those two points, if at all; what happens in contests has very little to do with what studios or most producers in the industry choose to make.

  8. Jonathan says:

    I really identified with this post as someone who sent off a script 6 years ago and became pretty disappointed with the feedback. The frustrating part is, basically it took me years to realize this — the feedback was mostly correct, in general form, but like you said it was non-specific. Had it been more specific, I think I’d have been more receptive to understanding the perspectives. There were a few contests that just dropped the ball entirely, to the point where I did wonder if these judges have seen many movies. One said no film has ever had more than a single protagonist (Crash? Won an Oscar?) and another said you can’t have a script where nobody dies (not joking!). The best feedback I got was from PAGE, which was much more specific and actionable. I came back to it actually recently, as I prepare to send out 6 scripts I’ve spent years writing and re-writing. The feedback was helpful in realizing also how much I have grown as I basically agreed with all of his feedback at this point, I was able to laugh about things I would never do anymore, and he detailed why things weren’t working. It’s really not helpful to tell someone, “Redo your adult drama into a sci-fi / action movie” when the writer has zero desire to do that. In fact, if I had done that, it would have just been another run-of-the-mill story. I am a produced screenwriter (I directed my own screenplay and am in the DGA) on my first script, but I really think I wrote a great script in spite of myself. I didn’t know WHY it worked, all that happened is I sent it out, everyone seemed to love it, pretty soon I have two producers on board, actors working way below their rates, and everyone blowing smoke up my butt.

    I really think the best comment I got from the PAGE judge was to focus on making things cinematic. I understand that may sound obvious, but it stuck with me. I made a cardinal mistake on my 2nd script, which was trying to send a message (“If you want to send a message, call Western Union”), so my scenes basically read like two people talking about philosophical issues. I even know in my process, I remember telling myself, “Ok what are they doing while they talk? Hmm one could be gardening.” That’s not how you write a script, and it’s no wonder it went nowhere, so the judges were completely correct. If the action isn’t important, it’s not a cinematic piece. Maybe it could be a novel, maybe it could be an essay, but it sure couldn’t be a film. I’m embarrassed that it took me literally a few years to understand what was so obvious to multiple judges — it wasn’t a good script (it was my 2nd). There is of course an aspect of taste involved in judging, but a lot of it really is pretty basic stuff that you need to get right.

    I think the most important thing for writers is to understand if you let it, failure can be your greatest weapon. I spent about 2 years moping after my rejections with that script, focusing on my main line of work (corporate videos), because I simply couldn’t understand. Eventually, as I kept trying to read more and more screenwriting books, watch thousands more movies, etc., I came to see my script exactly as the judges saw it. That is what allowed me to grow as a writer. I couldn’t move on to the next script until I understood why the last one wasn’t good. Once I was able to put that into perspective, I felt ready to take the next step and write scripts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. I used their words to fuel me, so I kept thinking, “Not enough happens, there’s no real tension, nobody dies, lives aren’t at stake.” You better believe the next few scripts I wrote were loaded with deaths, action, high stakes, and tension at every turn. The point is, either get rejected and let it define you, or get rejected and let it fuel you.

    1. Naomi says:

      Oh, Jonathan! So many great comments in your post here! And you can definitely let go of ANY embarrassment you feel over being able to gauge your own material. It’s almost impossible to have real perspective on our own work, especially when we’re still so close to the time of creating it. What’s that saying? You can’t read the label from inside the bottle? That always rings true to me. And yes – how you handle rejection — especially in this industry — is really going to define your outcome. It’s one of the big things that separates pros from amateurs, for sure.

  9. Colleen Craig says:

    Hi Naomi,
    I enjoyed reading through these questions and comments. I’m not trying to create a career in films, but I’d love to sell my script. I think it’s hard – after hours and hours and hours of effort — to determine between necessary and productive rewriting and trying to adhere to every rule. I have to revisit mine, again, because it’s lost some juice in the endless rewriting. I’ve only written three scripts as I had a thriving career in marketing. The first was optioned by Sydney Pollack. The second, by a British production company. Neither were produced. My third is just launching. For fun, I sent it to two reputable, known, but 2nd tier film festival competitions, i.e., not Nicholls. It won the first, and I got to enjoy a well produced table read and hang around with Eve Marie Saint, the festival honoree; something I enjoyed as much as the trophy. The second didn’t even make the quarter finals, and I received three terse lines of comment, mainly about ‘aimless philosophizing.’ I had a good laugh. So much is predicated on who reads your story! I won’t enter any others because I am fortunate that the agent who represented my first script, years ago, is happy to read anything I write. Had there been these many film festivals thirty years ago, I would have had fun rubbing shoulders with other writers, attending seminars, and getting inspired. But I wouldn’t have counted on them to deliver anything. A friend of mine has submitted his script to fifty festivals! He’s had so many wins that I question the legitimacy of some of these. Some very obscure foreign festivals. And still, he has no agent to read his script. My agent pays no attention to any wins, unless it’s one fo the top three. Hollywood is a tough town!

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