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How we’re pitching our winners…

How we’re pitching our winners…

How we’re pitching our screenwriting contest winners to the industry…

Since our relaunch in February 2016, we’ve gained a wonderful, varied slate of award-winning scripts and writers, many of which have now completed their year of free script development as we prepare them and their writers for the pitching process. As our campaign to pitch them gathers momentum, I thought now would be a great time to show you what we’ve been doing for our winners and the great responses we’ve been getting. We can’t reveal the confidential details of course, but there’s plenty we can show you as this gains pace.

STEP ONE – NAIL THE SCRIPT.

Even our winners’ fine scripts usually have a few important question marks in them, from a producer’s point of view. (If you would lose your job and your reputation for greenlighting a project that bombs, you’d feel the same.) So we use all our expertise and industry experience to feed back studio-quality reports and guidance for our winners, for a year, for free. It often takes that long – sometimes even longer – to get the script so sharp and convincing that producers can’t use easy excuses not to greenlight.

The process can even go beyond the one-year mark. One of our early winners has been very ill for much of the time since his prize; another – who is aiming high – decided to give the script a big review when I fed back to him my concerns that the things I felt producers would be wary about when I gave him the prize, still hadn’t noticeably progressed in his script. The writer’s approach to feedback, and their general responsiveness and promptness of redrafts, makes more difference than the guaranteed year-long timeframe: some scripts and writers are ready far sooner, others never convince us they’d reply promptly enough to a concrete offer from a serious producer.

Remember, WriteMovies have been pitching scripts to the industry for twenty years, and launched two Oscar-nominated writers into the industry. Things are ready when they’re ready. We don’t take any cut of option fees whatsoever – so we’re prepared to put in as long as it takes to give our winners the best chance of breaking through. When we succeed in doing that, everyone wins.

 

STEP TWO – THE ONE-PAGE PITCH

We’ll show you more about these and why you might want to make one, in another article soon. But these are meant to be a short, snappy, visual teaser of what this script would FEEL and LOOK like to the viewer. In an industry where the real decisionmakers are often hard to get on the phone, it’s important to present your script in the most professional way possible – that clearly shows how this movie could be SOLD to top talent and audiences. Getting our one-page pitches right is an important way to show that we, and our writers, mean business.

In the Terms & Conditions of entering our main contests, you’ll see a promise of ‘intensive pitch coaching’. This is it. We coach our winners to prepare their logline and one-page pitch, guiding them through multiple drafts as we get this right with them. At the end of it, the writers are far better placed to present and pitch their scripts in future.

And you know what else? More than a few have found that the process of presenting their script in a one-page pitch, has made them sharpen and focus and intensify their script more effectively. Everyone wins.

Meanwhile, we often give our Elite Mentors the chance to feed back on the scripts on our slate – and the writers love getting feedback from top industry pros like them. Sometimes the Elite Mentors even get involved and help push the script forward towards production themselves, which is the best of all worlds.

STEP THREE – RESEARCHING WHO TO TARGET

From quite an early point, we’ve already warmed up the industry to the projects on our slate, because of the promotion we give our winners in the weeks after their win, and consequently when their logline is promoted extensively to the industry through InkTip. We also sometimes use our dedicated Industry Newsletters (which go out to hundreds of producers and agents) to promote scripts more widely too. But these methods are only a small part of the real pitching process. The world is busy and full of competition, and everyone you want to reach out to needs treating as an individual.

Lots of writers take a scattergun approach, approaching as many producers, directors or actors as possible. Lots of writers think the world OWES them for creating their scripts, and should now bow down before them. Good luck with that. If you don’t understand the real life of producers and talent, you’ll need a totally world-changing script in order to break through with that attitude. And, if you’re so oblivious to the individuality and business needs of the people you’re approaching, you almost certainly won’t have achieved a script that good anyway.

So, between us and the writer, we compile SHORT lists of producers or talent who we think could really go for this project (exploring all sides of my motto: Aim High, Use Allies, or DIY – Do It Yourself). We research them properly, their track record and preferences, and how best to reach them. We then make our approach on whatever platform, opportunity or situation is the one they’d be most likely to favour. With our track record and polished scripts and one-page pitches, we’ve got a good chance of getting in the door. If we’re then invited to send the whole script, awesome. From that point, it’s up to the writer and producer/talent: we keep the line open and follow up until there’s a result, for better or worse. And then seal the deal or get proper feedback that we can use to improve the script or our understanding of its prospects, and then move on to the next on our shortlist.

Wherever possible, of course, we pitch in person, or failing that on the phone. Most people prefer doing business with strangers by email, but building their trust and their image of us gets us in a lot of doors that writers alone couldn’t. Our in-person pitching in the last two years has got many of our scripts read by leading players and has earned us important new allies, some of whom put us in touch with other people who’ll read the script now it’s been recommended by someone they trust and rate.

Getting a ‘no thanks’ often isn’t a closed door, if we’ve handled the approach right. It’s just a no to this script at this point in time. But with the range of our slate – now and in the future – and all the other services we offer, we always look to keep the door open for mutual support in the future. We keep in regular touch with all producers or agents who are happy for us to, such as through our industry newsletters.

It’s often frustrating how little of all this activity we get to share with you publicly. For obvious reasons, producers and talent wouldn’t want us to share the detail of what we discuss with them. But believe me, if you become a winner in one of our main contests, we’ll be working furiously behind the scenes to take your script as far as it can go.

While many agents and writers would be annoyed to learn that the company we approach have already got something similar on their slate (maybe worried they’ve been plagiarized!), personally I welcome it. Why? Because it shows we really did get this to the people who’d be interested in it. And the praise we often get back from them is great momentum to take into our next approach.

Enter our latest contest now, or enter our next one early by purchasing a consultancy service, to get the benefit of our decades of industry experience into YOUR project.

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.

Our Wall of Fame 2017: Grand Prize winners!

Our Wall of Fame 2017: Grand Prize winners!

Our Wall of Fame 2017: Grand Prize winners!

We look back at our Grand Prize winners from 2017 today and reveal the full Wall of Fame infographic. If you enter the Winter 2018 Contest and come out on top, you could see your name up on next year’s Wall of Fame – as well as winning $2000 in cash!

Here’s all you need to know about our Grand Prize winners from 2017… The scripts are improving every day, and we’re closing in on pitching them to our industry contacts soon…

  • BLACKOUT.CON by Ruben Bush III: “Two young African-American men find a unique and dangerous way to handle white supremacists and help their community.” Read more here
  • CHOKE JOB by David Dell Johnson: “A slick defense attorney with a penchant for getting guilty clients acquitted has his life methodically destroyed by a mysterious stranger and must embark on a desperate race to clear his name of murder.” Learn more
  • SPOON FED by Scott LaFortune: “A feisty feminist with a sweet-tooth is hired to curb the obesity crisis, then battles USDA corruption as she brings down a chauvinistic sugar lobby.” Read more

Check out the full 2017 Wall of Fame below – click on it to see it in all its might! Then, with the inspiration juices flowing, finish off that script you have sitting on the shelf and take a chance with the Winter 2018 Contest before Sunday’s deadline…

Our Wall of Fame 2017: Second Placed Winners

Our Wall of Fame 2017: Second Placed Winners

Meet our Second Placed Winners from our Wall of Fame 2017…

No way is second the first of the losers with any of our contests as you receive one year of free script and pitching development and the guarantee that we will pitch your project to industry – which is what the Second Placed winner for our current Winter Contest will also receive!

Here’s all you need to know about our Second Placed winners from 2017… The scripts are improving every day, and we’re closing in on pitching them to industry very soon.

  • THE ARENA by Belinda Whitney: A futuristic gladiator battles for his life while trying to shield the son he loves from the brutality of the arena. Read more here
  • THE FACTION by Kevin Karp: In 1978, crippled by a blown operation that sees one of its agents murdered in West Berlin, MI6 activates skeptical veteran HILL to exact revenge on the man responsible: ex-SS war criminal ALD STITZMAN, who has taken control of the Stasi-funded Red Army Faction that is terrorizing West Germany. Read more
  • FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY by Ron and Tony Basso: 70 years after an extraordinary true story of freed slaves volunteering to return to the South to spy on Confederate military forces, one spy questions if it was worth it. Learn more here.

Enter our current main contest and you can have your face appear on next year’s Wall of Fame…

Our Wall of Fame: 2017’s Featured Script of the Month winners!

Our Wall of Fame: 2017’s Featured Script of the Month winners!

Our Wall of Fame 2017: We have more winners than ever to celebrate from 2017 than ever! With 18 winners in total, we’ve seen an increase in quality from 2016, and we’re looking for that trend to continue…

Today, we’re honoring our Featured Script of the Month winners in this very special infographic (click on it to see it in all its might!) More to be revealed shortly…

Learn all about each of our Featured Script of the Month winners and their loglines:

  • GAMERS by Travis Lemke – “A man child who has lost love finds new love, but then has to kill that love after he and his Dungeon and Dragons buddies fall into possession of a magic book and summon a mysterious “protector” from hell. Shenanigans and hi-jinks abound in this contemporary comedy.” Read more
  • MARIGOLD by Lisa J. Cristoforo – “When a woman realizes her dreams are a window into her past lives connecting her to a famous actor and an 18th century Irish house servant, she embarks on a clandestine adventure to Ireland to discover the truth behind the connection.” Read more here
  • THE CHERRY ROOM by Christine Stevens DeLorenzo – “THE CHERRY ROOM (Inspired by true events.) – An undercover cop, a writer, and the owner of New York City’s most famous gentleman’s club discover a sophisticated baby-making network that supplies elite pedophiles and satanic cults with prepubescent children.” Check out more here
  • IDLE OF MAN by Joseph Campbell – “IDLE OF MAN follows the life of a depressed psychiatrist who is all of a sudden abducted by aliens and returns seeking a new perspective on life.” Read more
  • LAST RIDE OF METRO 313 by Michael Neyland – “Passengers on a commuter bus become stranded during a storm and must work together to survive strange and unnatural creatures.” Learn more
  • QUEEN OF HEARTS by Ethan Westgate – “In a world where everyone is united by a global thought-network, a small minority of people are unable to access this network. Molly Dark must lead others of her kind in a race to survive as the Network turns violently against those Unconnected.” Read more here
  • SEEMINGLY HARMONIOUS by Dengxian Cao – “When terrorists use a Mind Transfer Device to control the bodies of US officials, including the president, a Secret Service agent must battle against his seemingly own people to prevent a nuclear war.” Learn more
  • DEAD POSSUM by Jared Wayne Raun – “A boy discovers he is dead, but resists leaving his body so he can save his living girlfriend from a gang of zombie bikers, despite protestations from his spirit guide.” Read more
  • DEAD MAN’S HAND by Ronald L. Ecker – “When the hypnotist dies during a past life regression, it leaves a present-day schoolteacher and an Old West gunfighter trapped in each other’s body and times.” Read more here

Wouldn’t it be great to see your name up there next year? Well, you can! Enter the Winter 2018 Contest by the 14th January and you could see your name, face and script up in the 2018 Wall of Fame…

The Confidential Studio Manual

The Confidential Studio Manual

The Confidential Studio Manual manual “How can you sell to Hollywood if you don’t know what they are looking for? This is a MUST READ for all writers at whatever stage of their careers. Considering the thousands of books on writing out there, do yourself a favor and read this one if you are serious about getting real attention in Hollywood. Every page that you read puts you light years ahead of the competition and closer to a sale. A remarkable insight into the secret world of studio readers and development people.” -Peter Saphier Former Universal Pictures VP and producer (Jaws, The Deer Hunter, Scarface) Order your Studio Manual here It’s simple, just fill in the submission form, make the PayPal payment and the e-book will be sent to you within 4 working days.


About The Manual Get the upper hand on the entertainment industry by knowing precisely how the people who read your scripts have been trained to evaluate them via our Confidential Studio Manual. Featuring the methods and formats of the Hollywood script-reading process, the Confidential Studio Manual is essential reading for any writer who wants to know what happens to a script once it’s sent off and anyone who’d like to have an insider’s perspective on film and television development. The manual explains the criteria used to decide which scripts get made from assessing the structure and genre to the dialogue and plot. Including examples of coverage written on genuine scripts, some failed and some successful, as well as a glossary of terms commonly used by studio readers, it enables screenplay writers to know exactly who their first audience is and how they can get their script noticed. A Brief Look Inside confidentialClick here for a snippet of the insight you’ll get. Remember, there’s much more to know and the only way to find out is to get your copy today! Purchase it as an ebook and save on shipping! Read more… Testimonials testimonialHow can you sell to Hollywood if you don’t know what they are looking for? This is a MUST READ for all writers at whatever stage of their careers.” Peter Saphier, former Universal Pictures VP Read more…

Success Story: Former WriteMovies Winner Gets Film Produced

Success Story: Former WriteMovies Winner Gets Film Produced

Marcus Folmar has a unique way of looking at his screenwriting abilities in that he says he is both right-brained and left-brained, which serves him well as a screenwriter. By Rita Cook. Marcus Folmar, former WriteMovies winner gets film produced – congrats Marcus!

writer-journeys

“I’m equally right and left-brained, I think,” Folmar explains. “Evidence the fact that on my SATs I got identical scores for both the math and the verbal—575 each. Screenwriting works for me because it’s as much science as it is art, as much structure as creativity.” That said, it was Folmar’s creativity that prompted him to enter a writing contest in which he sold his first screenplay, called I’m Perfect. “I entered and won Writemovies.com’s 2002 International Writing Contest with this project. The recognition led to meeting the guys at rossWWmedia who optioned and eventually produced the movie.”

I’m Perfect, in Folmar’s own words, is a story about, “the handsomest, most romantic man in Los Angeles who is determined to find the perfect woman, if there is such a thing.” Folmar wrote the main character, Lewis, “out of a desire to see onscreen a black man that defies stereotype. Though, coincidentally, the fact that Lewis is African American is of little significance to the story.” The script is a romantic comedy about a man who has allowed his list-making and obsessive-compulsive behavior to take control of his love life. “No matter how much a girl might have going for herself, if she doesn’t possess even one of the qualities on his ‘perfect woman list,’ he’s not interested,” Folmar says. “No one measures up until Lewis encounters Cecile, played by Sydney Tamiia Poitier, who he soon learns matches his list perfectly … or at least she appears to. When Lewis learns that Cecile might not be everything she first seemed, he calls it quits yet finds it difficult to sever ties with Cecile as deftly as he’s done with others in his past. In the end Lewis must decide if he’ll listen to what his head is telling him he wants or what his heart is telling him he needs.”

Folmar came up with the idea for I’m Perfect while attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he majored in and received a B.S. in radio, TV and film production. “While I was at Northwestern, I wrote for one of my assignments a role-reversal comedy called Looking for Love,” he says. “It was about a man who desperately wanted to find true love but kept meeting women who only wanted to play the field. I put it away after I got a B+ I think. Years later when I was searching for an idea, I pulled it out.” However, Folmar was not interested in his script Looking for Love anymore because he felt it was broad and too over the top. Instead, he stripped away what he describes as the Meatballs moments, did his best to add back some truth and nine months later he had his movie. Folmar sold the film to rossWWmedia, a literary/management company-turned-production company. He met Alex Ross, the principal in the company, after he won the Writemovies.com contest. “[Ross] loved the concept and story and wanted to hip-pocket the script to see if he could generate any interest amongst his contacts,” Folmar explains. After the script was pitched around and comments came back such as, “It’s too small,” “It’s too big,” “It’s too black,” “It’s not urban enough,” and even “Far too smartly written to make a convincing romantic comedy,” Ross decided to move into production with the film himself. Folmar says he got paid the minimal fee of $10,000, but that by rossWWmedia producing the film it also allowed him to be far more involved in the process than a typical first-time writer. “I had input into everything—from the selection of a director, to casting, to the production of the behind-the-scenes ‘Making of’ video,” he says. “In fact, I would eventually earn an associate producer’s credit for all the ways in which I was able to participate in the life of the project.”

Folmar says he has a very specific way of writing. “Generally, I exercise a four-part writing process,” he explains. “First, I take my concept and build it to an idea that I can express in a one-page treatment. After that, I like to write a detailed character breakdown and analysis for my main two ptor three characters. You’d be amazed at how many story possibilities just naturally emerge during this exercise. Third, I do a scene-by-scene outline where I work out the details. Finally, I use the outline to go to script. I never edit until the first draft is done.”

As for advice to other screenwriters starting out in the craft, he says he watches more films than he reads scripts. “Although I think reading scripts and watching movies are equally important, I don’t read nearly as much as I should. I see everything, however,” he says. “Good and bad, I feel there’s something to learn from them all. Still, probably the best exercise I’ve ever done is watching a movie with the script in hand. This is valuable because learning how to translate what you want to see onscreen onto the page is one of the screenwriter’s greatest challenges.”

For Folmar’s future, he says that he sold this script without representation, and since that time he has completed two new screenplays. “Now that production is completed on I’m Perfect, I am using the film along with my new specs to get meetings with agents and managers and, hopefully, to sell my next script very soon.”

RITA COOK is the editor-in-chief of Insider magazine and is also a producer and screenwriter-turned-novelist. While currently working on a project with Duva Films called The Kiss of The Vampire, she also recently published a book called Angel’s Destiny which she adapted from her screenplay written several years ago. Angel’s Destiny can be found at PublishAmerica.com. Cook teaches a travel writing course at Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York.