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Monday, March 31, 2008

Last Chance For Bluecat

Many thanks to Gordy Hoffman, founder of The Bluecat Screenplay Competition, who answered my queries regarding The Bluecat Screenplay contest for the blog. If you have a feature script hanging around, don't let it languish on your desktop! Get it into a contest where you get feedback. What have you got to lose?

And if this Q&A doesn't sway you, check out the quality feedback I got for one of my scripts last year next to the little cartoon cat. I didn't place, but I'm still very happy with what I got - It even helped form the basis of the latest draft that I'm finally sending out tp producers, sans Tansy and that "troublesome plot point" they pull me up on. So give it a go!

DEADLINE: Midnight, April 1st.
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When there are so many script competitions out there, why should a writer choose Bluecat?

BlueCat has had more success launching careers and has provided more analysis to more writers than any other stand-alone screenplay contest in the world. Please visit our site, www.bluecatscreenplay.com, for a complete list of how our achievements.

What can a writer expect in Bluecat feedback about his or her script?

Every writer who enters BlueCat receives over 600 words of written analysis. They should expect an objective, thoughtful, courteous and intelligent response on what the reader felt was working about the screenplay and where they have suggestions.

Tell us more about the Bluecat screenwriting labs. What goes on there?

We are bringing three writers to Los Angeles this May and we plan to provide them with a personalized workshop that addresses their individual needs of their project. We are so excited about this process and we look forward to having more workshops in the future.

Though Bluecat is an international contest, lots of people believe Americans have more chance of placing or winning... Is this true?

Well, we've had screenplays written in Farsi, Korean and Chinese (all translated into English) win BlueCat. We welcome stories from all corners of our planet.

What have past Bluecat winners gone on to do?

SONY PICTURES is releasing BlueCat's 2005 winner, BALLS OUT: THE GARY HOUSE MAN STORY, this summer. Andy Stock and Rick Stempson (2005 Winners) recently wrapped their second script, THE GOODS: THE DON READY STORY, produced by Will Farrell and starring Jeremy Piven and Ving Rhames.

Lance Hammer (2004 Finalist) recently won the 2008 Sundance Directing Award for his latest script, BALLAST.

Andy Pagana (2004 Winner) is directing television for DIE HARD producer Arnold Rifkin. His BlueCat winning script, THE MAN IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR, is in pre-production after winning the 2006 Austin Film Festival.

Young Kim's (2006 Winner) script HYUNG'S OVERTURE attached to HITCH producer Teddy Zee after development in Pusan, Korea.

Ana Lily Amirpour's (2007 Winner) THE STONES slated for production this year.

How are entries judged in the contest?

We accept entries electronically and they are farmed out to a reader, personally selected by me. This reader than reads the entry, writes up analysis and issues a score. We sort the scripts according to scores, and I look at the top scripts, narrowing them down until I determine the quarter-finalists, the semi-finalists, the finalists and ultimately the winner.
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What did you like about this script?

It was a fast-paced story and a quick read. From the first few pages, it was quickly established what kind of ride we were in for and the dark atmosphere was conveyed easily. Working within the genre, the story moved ahead nicely and provided solid twists. Setting the story in 1940s London with bombings that could claim anyone's life in a moment underscored just how quickly anyone's life could be over and that lent an additional uncertainty as to who would live and who would die in the story.

Descriptions were done well and vividly evoked the appropriate kind of atmosphere and tension. The choice to use snappy and short sentences added to a sense of smoothly advancing through the story at a quick pace. And choice British terms also enhanced the sense of time and place. The action scenes were strong and easy to follow and was without extraneous details cluttering what was happening with the main characters, or with the many secondary characters.

Dialogue was crisp and to the point. Exposition, when it arose, was buried in the dialogue without slowing the pace of the story and did not draw an inordinate amount of attention to itself.

Characters had different motives, and had sufficiently distinct voices. There were significant changes in the character arcs for Brae and Jake, especially. It was planted well that Brae's complacency was what led him to overlook the probability that Rose and not Jake was the one he should have been looking for.

Subplots were effectively managed, even the smallest ones like with the mother and her twin children, or the guards at the city limits. Aramanta and Tyrell's desire to break free of Brae effectively setup their betrayal subplot; the stymied romance between Jake and Rose was a good subplot that made the ending have more of a twist. Even the smallest pieces, like the mother with the twin daughters, were written with attention to buttressing the rest of the story.

There was a solid use of various storytelling techniques. Flashbacks were minimal and used at the most effective moments, like the revelation of Jake seeing Rose's birthmark, or how Rose first appeared in the bathtub. The parallel between Aramanta's conversion at the hand of Brae matched up nicely with her bringing Jake to her side.

What do you think needs work?

The sudden conversion of Brae from a murderous force with no conscience into someone looking to end the cycle of violence was abruptly introduced near the end of the story. It made it difficult to buy completely into the fundamental shift in his attitude. On page 79 we see Jake's and Brae's character arcs crossing, and yet it is only Jake's trajectory that feels genuine. Throughout the story, Jake was always steadfast in his pursuit of vengeance and in the end that is what turned his heart completely dark and allowed him to join up at the very end with Aramanta. For Brae, though, nothing seemed to be leading up to the possibility that he would change this way. Even the death of Tansy didn't seem like it would irrevocably change him, not with all of the carnage that he was responsible for up until that point, including the murder of his own followers, like Ivor.

A plot point that was potentially troublesome was on page 18 when Brae essentially let Jake go until the next crescent moon. It did set up the ticking clock device to create tension with that deadline, but why let Jake go? The need for the next crescent moon was never specified, and it did not seem needed later in the story when Rose received the blood of Brae. And that also brought into mind the question: why did Rose require Brae's blood to begin with? As far as the story indicated, Brae did not receive blood from another to become who he was, so it was not apparent why Rose, as the moon and as Brae's equal, would require that.

Looking back at the story, what was interesting to note was that Tansy was rather forgettable. Jake, Rose, Brae, Aramanta and Tyrell were all remembered, but Tansy did not stand out. She may be the character that you can tie in more firmly with Brae's character arc.
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Enter the contest online here.

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