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Friday, February 23, 2007

Bluecat Q&A

We all know that screenplay contests are just a way for industry fatcats to make loads of moolah out of aspiring screenwriters: there you are, beavering away on your baby (oo er), you pay your fifty quid and submit it in the hope of winning and getting your big deal, along with an agent attached, some big stars and the obligatory trophy spouse...

...Except that doesn't happen. You send off your screenplay and then: NOTHING. Nada. Nitch (is that a word? I kind of like it.) You never hear again. Boo. Hiss. Down with screenplay contests! You say, Where is my beautiful wife? Where is my amazing house? And where is George Clooney and Jim Carrey attached instead of TO MY SPEC??

Except, with these guys, The Bluecat Screenplay Competition, it's all different. Yes, I know I'm a little late off the ball with just SIX DAYS TO GO but think of it as a wake up call. SIX DAYS TO BLUE CAT! I don't like the phrase "everyone's a winner" usually, but you really ARE if you enter the contest. Even if you don't place, you get good quality feedback. Here's mine from last year if you don't believe me. These notes even formed the base of my rewrite - that I duly re-entered back into Bluecat THIS year. Bang2write never reccommends contests I haven't entered myself and been pleased with. But, if that's not enough, I thought I'd talk to the chap himself, Mr. Gordy Hoffman about the contest...

1. How many scripts were submitted to Bluecat in its first year - and how many last year? If a vast difference, what do you believe is different about Bluecat when there are so many screenplay competitions now? We received 388 entries in the first year, and we got 1786 last year. I think people know we care. We don't charge a lot, our prizes are big, the industry respects us and we give notes to every one who enters. Our actions speak loudly.

2. We hear alot about "not" writing WE SEE, adverbs etc... Are there any format inconsistencies/errors/etc that really bug you? Why? I don't care about format too much, but I think if we took out the CON'T's, we'd have a lot more room for story. All in all, spell stuff correctly and format isn't gonna get you at BlueCat.

3. You had a competition for the best screenplay title recently in early Bluecat entries. What do you look for in a title when looking at your reading pile? Original, bold, risky, witty and artful. Easier said than done!!

4. From your own reading experience, are there any genres/stories etc that you feel make "better" spec screenplays? Which make the worst, in your opinion? I really don't want to answer this, because I don't want people to redirect themselves towards what they think might be a better spec idea. Read the trades and have fun.

5. Of the previous Bluecat winners, does a particular favourite spring to mind immediately? If so, why? Do any other scripts - maybe ones that didn't place - have a place in your heart (even for a goofy reason)? I love my finalists every year, often more than the winner, but they break down in some way, buckling en route to the loot. I am haunted by an abstract screenplay a few years back with mannequins. I should've made it the winner. I learned.

6. How do you choose the Bluecat winner - is it structure? Story? Characterisation? Or is that Top Secret?? ; ) Heather, my partner in BlueCat, puts chicken in the pile of scripts and whatever screenplay her dog, Joplin, destroys first, wins. It's worked for years. Seriously, I know the winner when I read it. What a relief, right?? I either laugh or cry profusely.


Lucy said...

Damn. Should've asked him why it's called BLUECAT!!!!

Olaf Legend said...

Once In A Livetime!

I have not ever shipped my writing to a contest. A old girlfriend had a Dad who runned one of this large contest taught me that many of thems are nothing but publicity drives for the various sponsors involved and no scripts rarely ever progress forward to anything looking like success.

So i don't bother.

Welcoming backs, by the way, Lucy. Hope holiday was cool. How was Bournemouth? Did you go up the Blackpool tower?

Chris (ukscriptwriter) said...

I said this year would be the year I entered Bluecat, but I have nothing that is ready. Next year I should have a choice of 2 or 3.

Then again, I'm full of good intentions :)

Robin Kelly said...

Olly, look at Blue Cat as a good value reading service with a bonus of possibly placing in a competition and selling your script more easily.

Optimistic_Reader said...

I won't have anything for BlueCat this year either. Lucy - he named it after his cat, who had just died when he had the idea for the competition.

Lucy said...

I agree with Robin - that's EXACTLY why I put my three scripts in this year. Approx £23 for good quality notes is totally bargainous, plus the excitement of *possibly* placing is fun.

OR and Chris, get off your backsides and get something done for next year - OR ELSE! Anybody would think writing a script is hard ; )

And about the name OR - very interesting! And completely not what I was expecting. Thought it was some kind of script jargon I didn't know about...