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.