Screenplay contests...are these legitimate?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Andrew-V, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. Andrew-V

    Andrew-V Agent

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    I'm somewhat of an amateur screenwriter and have been considering submitting one of my completed drafts to one of these online contests. It seems like at any given time there are a dozen or so accepting submissions. They typically have an entry fee of about $50 dollars.

    Do people actually win these things? If I have a properly formatted screenplay that could theoretically be produced at a minimal budget should I be looking elsewhere?
     
  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Sounds fishy to me. You should not have to pay to submit a screenplay.
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Yep. Don't pay. Also, who knows who is looking at them...and potentially copying them.
     
  4. Andrew-V

    Andrew-V Agent

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    Well, even the American Zoetrope competition has an entry fee. I would assume that one is legitimate at least.
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Joseph DeMartino
    Agents (or so-called agents) or other people who claim to help you sell or evaluate your work and charge "reader's fees" are not legit. But many kinds of contests including film festivals and art shows have entry fees that either help defray expenses or actually provide the money pool for the cash prizes awarded.

    OTOH anybody can set up a website and claim it is for such a contest, collect the fees and disappear, so it is hard to tell unless you can confirm the existance of the sponsor off-web. If you can get a company name and locate information on other sites, find it in a paper directory, get a number from 411, you're probably on safer ground. As for protection of your work - the only way to be 100% sure that nobody is ever going to steal your work is if you never show it to anyone. If one other human being reads it there is a chance that you could get ripped off. You can mitigate the risks. Try to see if the contest is affiliated with checkable people/groups who are bound by the Writers Guild of America's Minimum Basic Agreement. Register your script with the WGA. (I think the fee is around $25.) You can also reqister your script with the U.S. Copyright Office, which establishes that it existed in concrete form and with "x" contents on "y" date.

    Finally if you really think you have a script that could be shot, don't bother with the contest. Go to WGA.org, get a list of agents willing to take on new writers and send any finished samples of your work to one of them. You'll get immediate real-world feedback on how good or bad you are from someone who makes his or her living selling scripts. If one of them expresses interest in representing you, you'll know you really have something to offer.

    Regards,

    Joe
     

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