From serial killers to monsters, from psychological torture to primordial gods, you’ve thrown everything at us for our latest genre award – and we’ve definitely been terrified! But ultimately, there’s only one survivor. With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to announce the Horror Award 2020 winner!
You shouldn’t be too disappointed if your script wasn’t chosen. This was a highly competitive contest – well done to everyone who entered, and thank-you for giving us so many great scripts to read. And anyway, don’t forget that ALL entries to the Horror Award are still in the running for our Fall Contest – Quarter-Finalists are due to be announced in a week’s time on Friday November 6th!
Here are a few things we picked up reading your submissions, and some tips for the future:
- Make sure you set up audience expectations in the first 10 pages. A number of scripts didn’t introduce any horror elements in this crucial opening section – make sure people know where things are headed!
- On a similar note, you need to introduce your USP (unique selling point) here too. Give us something unique that we haven’t seen before, so that we’ll sit up and want to keep reading! Don’t hold back on your USP for too long or you’ll lose your readers’ interest.
- Watch those budgets! It was great to see that many writers had taken on board our advice and were submitting scripts with limited locations and small casts, which helps to keep costs down. However, some then undermined themselves by introducing other big costs such as extended underwater sequences or big action sequences that the audience potential couldn’t justify. Always be sure to keep ALL the commercial aspects of screenwriting in mind.
- The story’s climax doesn’t always need to be a massive battle. Many successful horror films have had relatively small scale climaxes which haven’t involved the forces of heaven and hell meeting in an epic clash (e.g. THE SHINING). A few scripts here pivoted to become much larger scale at their conclusions – often unnecessarily. Keep it appropriate to the style of your script (and, again, the budget!).
- Just because it’s horror doesn’t mean it can’t have a sense of humor. In fact, you often need moments of levity to balance out the darker elements and make them bearable! Balancing horror and comedy can be tough, but it’s been done successfully many times (GET OUT is a prominent recent example).
Keep all this in mind if you plan to submit again, and use them to take your script to the next level. But that’s enough from us for now…
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you… the Horror Award 2020 winner!
THE DEVIL’S TIDE
By John McCoy
A big congratulations to John, who has won guaranteed pitching to industry, two sets of Development Notes, and continued script development from us!
We look forward to telling you more about John and his script soon! And until then, keep an eye out to see which of our other Horror Award entrants will progress to the Fall Contest Quarter-Finals next Friday!