BAD LISTING: a horror/thriller where nothing is ever as it seems…
BAD LISTING is the kind of script where it’s impossible to say what will come next. This horror screenplay, where twists and turns leave you constantly guessing and where things are repeatedly turned on their heads, impressed us with its compact storytelling and execution. A very worthy second place goes to Brent Hartinger for this script!
Having taken 2nd place in our Winter 2019 Contest, Brent wins a year of script development from WriteMovies and guaranteed pitching to industry, which are both now underway! If you’d like to win these kind of prizes and find success with WriteMovies, make sure you submit to our Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest, which has a Grand Prize of $2000 and more (click here!)
Here’s a summary of BAD LISTING:
When Cleo rents a “shared” AirBnB unit, she worries the other guest, Jack, has a dark secret. But from Jack’s POV, Cleo isn’t who she claims to be either. Or maybe the real problem with this short-term rental isn’t Jack or Cleo, but an even darker, more sinister presence watching them both. A small-cast, minimal-location script.
If you’re a producer interested in this project, email email@example.com today!
And here’s a quick bio of the writer of BAD LISTING, Brent Hartinger:
Brent has had nine screenplays optioned for film; four of those projects are currently in various stages of development, including PROJECT SWEET LIFE, a teen caper story, now in pre-production for a 2020 release.
Also a novelist, Brent has had three of his books optioned for film. His fourteen novels include THREE TRUTHS AND A LIE (Simon & Schuster), which was nominated for an Edgar Award; and GEOGRAPHY CLUB (HarperCollins), which was adapted as a feature film in 2013, co-starring Scott Bakula, and is now being developed as a television series.
Brent has won many screenwriting awards, including first place at the Storypro Awards, the Fresh Voices Contest, Acclaim Scripts, the L.A. Comedy Festival, the Screenwriting in the Sun Award, and a Writers Network Fellowship. All his scripts on TheBlackList.com have been “featured scripts,” with scores of “8” or higher.
A former entertainment journalist, Brent co-founded of the website AfterElton.com, which was later sold to MTV/Viacom. Now Brent continuously travels the world as a digital nomad, writing his screenplays and novels along the way.
Find out more by visiting his website: www.brenthartinger.com
WITHOUT BORDERS: a socio-political thriller, unravelling a mystery that spans the globe…
It takes a lot to grab our attention and make it into the top three in our contests, but WITHOUT BORDERS by Chris Gebhardt and Jenn Russi did it in style. With high-octane action, political conspiracies, and a web of intrigue, this is a script that kept us on the edge of our seats from the first page to the last! And this is just the pilot episode for the rest of the series – the rest of WITHOUT BORDERS promises a lot more to come!
For taking 3rd place in our Winter 2019 Contest, Chris and Jenn have won guaranteed pitching to industry and a year of free script development with us, and we’re really looking forward to working on WITHOUT BORDERS with them! If you’d like to follow in their footsteps, be sure to enter our Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest, which has a Grand Prize of $2000 and more (click here!)
Here’s a summary of WITHOUT BORDERS:
Alhena Mansour, a seasoned UN human rights investigator, returns to the Democratic Republic of the Congo after ten years away to investigate the disappearance of a UN worker in the war-torn East.
As Alhena navigates the minefield of political instability and humanitarian crisis, she quickly becomes embroiled in a far-reaching conspiracy to control the global economy. With millions of lives hanging in the balance, Alhena has no choice but to see her investigation through to the end… no matter the personal cost.
Alhena encounters old friends and new enemies on her journey down a dark path of human rights abuses and corrupt politics spanning from New York to Beijing. To get to the truth about what’s happening in the Congo, Alhena must confront old wounds and relive a traumatic event in her past… one which holds the key not only to her current investigation but to the world’s economic future.
If you’re a producer interested in this project, email firstname.lastname@example.org today!
And here’s a quick bio of the writers of WITHOUT BORDERS, Chris Gebhardt and Jenn Russi:
As a writing team, Jenn and Chris come from dynamic backgrounds that allow them to balance each other’s perspectives while drawing on their unique life experiences. Jenn has worked for five years in international development, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is currently undertaking a PhD in Politics at the University of Glasgow on UN Peacekeeping. Chris was the Chair of the Board of Florida High Schools Model United Nations from 2013-2016 and is now putting his 11 years of experience reporting on the world’s space programs to good use as the Assistant Managing Editor of NASASpaceflight.com.
Through their 15 years of friendship and collaboration, they have developed a strong foundation of effective communication and mutual respect that has allowed the theme of their writing to tackle issues — both good and bad — surrounding the globalization of society.
As a writing team, they have been mentored by award-nominated writers/producers Marc and Elaine Zicree (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, BABYLON 5, SLIDERS, THE LAZARUS MAN). Their pilot, SURVEILLANCE, won “Best Pilot” for April 2016 in the TV Festival competition. Another pilot, TECHYCARDIA, won “Best Teleplay” at the 12th annual Action on Film Festival in September 2016 and was a Quarter-Finalist in the 2017 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition.
Additionally, Chris received an LA-based production company grant in 2016 to write and produce a short filmed, AVOWED — which had a successful festival run and was nominated for Best Dramatic Short at the 2018 Central Florida Film Festival. He also received a paid, one-on-one mentorship in 2017 with TV and film writer David H. Steinberg.
Whatever you think about the Oscars, there’s always something to be learned from them. Last night was no exception: there was the usual number of sure-fire wins mixed with a few shocks that leave us scratching our heads. Here’s our take on what happened at the Oscars 2019…
- The big news of the night was the surprise win of GREEN BOOK for Best Picture. This may not have been the most competitive year for this category, but stacked up against films like BLACKKKLANSMAN and ROMA, it’s still not what we expected. Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times even went so far as to call it “the worse best Picture winner since Crash“. Ouch. But the main thing to take from this? ROMA might have been the favorite on the night (rather than THE FAVOURITE… okay, it’s a bit confusing) but the Academy isn’t ready to give highest honors to a Netflix film just yet. The big studios continue to guard their territory.
- Spike Lee finally has an Oscar, winning Best Adapted Screenplay for BLACKKKLANSMAN. When it comes to films about race, the Oscars have generally favored less hard-edged material than Lee makes, so at first glance, this looks like it could indicate a shift for film’s biggest awards ceremony. However, that’s all kind of cancelled out because…
- The winner for Best Original Screenplay also went to GREEN BOOK, which has come in for a lot of criticism for perpetuating the “white savior” trope and couldn’t be more of an opposite to BLACKKKLANSMAN if it tried. Take a look at that article from Chang and you’ll see why it’s so confusing that the two screenplay awards went to these two films. On the one hand, a film that takes an intense, no-holds barred look at racism – on the other, a film that deals with it through a feel-good story. One thing is clear – Hollywood still hasn’t figured out how it wants to deal with this kind of subject matter.
- Away from the main controversies, superhero stories are starting to gain some traction at awards ceremonies to go with their popular appeal, with BLACK PANTHER picking up three awards and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE winning Best Animated Feature. This is where the real money is right now – and it looks like there’s even the possibility of picking up some nice shiny awards to go with it.
- On a similar note, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY took home four awards. Even though the only big one here was for Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury, it’s a surprise to see a film that got mixed reviews from critics fare so well at the Oscars. Is the Academy really becoming more democratized to reflect popular opinion? We’ll have to wait and see how next year unfolds…
From a screenwriting perspective, the main thing here is the confusion of seeing two totally contrasting films take home the awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. Here at WriteMovies, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this, with several of our past winners – such as BLACKOUT.COM by Ruben Bush III dealing with this kind of subject matter.
The Oscars 2019 may not have had the drama of the wrong winner being announced for Best Picture like a couple of years ago, but they’ve certainly given us a lot of food for thought…
It’s time for more Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest results! There were a lot of great scripts in our Quarter-Finals and it was tough to make this next round of decisions, but after careful consideration our judges have decided on our Semi-Finalists!
There’s often a fine line when it comes to the different rounds of our screenwriting contest. Some scripts only just miss out, and it can be difficult to know why. A lot of the time, it comes down to the execution of basic elements – structure, characters, and dialogue.
Take a look also at this article that our Director, Ian Kennedy, wrote when we announced Quarter-Finalists: What your writing submissions are telling us, 2017-2019. If you’re making any of these mistakes, they could be holding you back!
But what else have we found with these latest Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest results? Well, a few things that have often helped our Semi-Finalists stand out from the rest:
- Unique Concepts. If there’s something in a script we haven’t seen before, it immediately makes us want to read on. See what Ian wrote in his article about the number of scripts with a vehicle smash at about page 10 – when we’ve read the same thing so many times, it quickly starts to become dull. On the other hand, when we encounter something new – that’s really exciting!
- Specific in genre and the story they wanted to tell. With a number of scripts, we found it difficult to tell what genre the writer was aiming at and it was a while before the story began to take shape. These unfocused openings usually fail to hold our attention. Be specific about your story, and be clear with its genre!
- Engaging characters. Ian wrote it in his article but it’s worth repeating again here: “Make us care and get fascinated with your main characters and their world”. When we care about the characters, the script takes on a whole new life. Don’t rely on clichés or stereotypes, but create rounded characters we can engage with as if they were real people. And not just the protagonist either, but the supporting characters and villains as well!
And with that, it’s time for the moment you’ve been waiting for. Here are our next Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest results: the Semi-Finalists!
|BAD LUCK VS KARMA, Aaron Davis||TÖDLICHE ERINNERUNG, Urs Aebersold||SPACE RACERS, Jason Azcar|
|THE DAWN OF EVE, James Bingham||LE SECRET DU KATANA NOIR, Christian Bourgeois||LA VENGEANCE DU COBRA, Christian Bourgeois|
|THE WALL, Anthony Buono||UNE CHANCE POUR GUERIR, Christine de Chauvelin||PSYCHOANALYTIC TALES, Christine de Chauvelin|
|STRUCK, Elaine F Chekich||THE HUNTED, Mark Flood||WITHOUT BORDERS, Chris Gebhardt & Jenn Russi|
|LAST CHRISTMAS, Owen Gower||BAD LISTING, Brent Hartinger||KOBOS, Adam Hersh|
|HOLLYWOOD’S MOST WANTED, Manny Jimenez Sr.||THE SAX, Pascal Kulcsar||AGENT 355, Laura Lambert|
|IN THE ABSENCE OF JUSTICE, Stephen F Maynard||PROMISE OF TOMORROW, Andrew Pennington||THIS IS NOT REVENGE, David Pierotti|
|BOY MOST WANTED, Tuck Tucker||ESTHER’S DEN, Persephone Vandegrift||THE CRACK IN PEGGY SUE’S FLOOR, John Woodard|
Keep an eye out for more Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest results from us, as we move on now to judge our Finalists and winners – and decide who takes away the Grand Prize!
Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film, ROMA, has been getting all kinds of acclaim, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and earning three Golden Globe nominations already. Guest author Cat Tebo takes a look at what we can learn from it about writing character driven stories…
A lot of new writers fall into the trap of prioritizing plot above all else, losing the characters and, consequently, the “heart” of their story. Ideally, a script should be a marriage between plot and character. The best way to go about this is by developing characters whose objectives and agency are so strong that they inform the plot, rather than characters being used as mere devices for the storyteller to force into the mold of how they think their story is “supposed”to be.
Alfonso Cuarón’s recent film, ROMA, is a perfect example of how a character-driven film should function, with characters so compelling and nuanced that there isn’t room for heavy, convoluted plot-lines or unrealistic story details. Instead, the characters are the story.
A big part of what makes rich characterization so important to story is that the strength of a story lies in the strength of its characters. Characters give stories humanity and, in doing so, a heart. Furthermore, the desires and objectives that drive characters to act are the same ones that should drive the story forward. In ROMA, everything that happens is a result of characters exercising agency and taking action in order to get what they want: it’s one of the most basic fundamentals of storytelling. Plot movement is all about getting characters from point A to point B; if there is no character arc, there is no story.
Fleshing out your characters is often a challenging task. In creating ROMA, Alfonso Cuarón was drawing inspiration from his own childhood, and familiarity no doubt makes for a greater sense of character. Even when writers are creating characters completely from scratch, the influence of memories and experience still plays a part—there is no such thing as objective fiction, and even the most original-seeming thoughts are a consolidation of some kind of previous knowledge.
Still, there are some important character elements to consider when figuring out who your characters are. Ask yourself what their weaknesses are, what their strengths are, how they cope with obstacles, what they need versus what they want, who they appear to be versus who they really are—for every question you ask, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask the inverse of it as well. Doing this ensures that you’re considering your characters from every possible angle and are covering every aspect of them you can.
Concept is usually what sells your story in the beginning, but characters are what make it stick. Likewise,you might be able to grab an audience’s attention with an interesting premise, but you won’t be able to hold it without intriguing characters.
Take a look at more writing insights from WriteMovies by clicking here!
Feature films tend to get most of the glory among filmmakers, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore short film as a medium! In a new series of Insights articles, Ian Kennedy looks at the benefits of writing in this format.
There’s a reason there’s not just one but two categories for shorts at the Oscars: one for live-action and another for animated. They can be a great way of telling stories that a lot of filmmakers overlook – and that includes writers!
So why write a script for a short film? Why get one made? Well, there are actually quite a few good reasons…
- You’ve got an idea for story that doesn’t suit feature length – sometimes, even the best concept can’t be spun out into a longer screenplay! That doesn’t have to a negative, though. Use the opportunity to tell the story in short form instead.
- To improve your skills by writing under constraint. All writing is done under constraint of some kind – of format, style, etc. – but the additional restrictions of length and budget with short film can be a great chance to prove yourself. Learning to write under constraint can actually be a great way to improve your writing!
- As proof of concept for a feature film. Making feature films is an expensive business, so why not show how well your idea works by making a short based on the same idea?
- To get a production credit. Getting a script produced can take hard work, but if you’ve already got a track record in short films, it can look great on your writing CV and give producer’s faith in your abilities.
- As a personal project – just because you love your idea or are passionate about filmmaking! Be careful, though; if you’re making a short film for personal reasons, make sure that everyone on the production knows what your motives are.
Making a short film brings all sorts of challenges of its own. You’ll still need a unique concept, a well-structured story, and characters that audiences can fall in love with – but you’ve got to get it all into a much smaller space! That’s why it can be such a great test of your skills as a storyteller.
Whatever your reasons for making a short film, make sure you know exactly what they are before you begin, whether you want to use it to take the next step in your career or just because you’ve got a story you’re desperate to tell!
Take a look at our other Writing Insights articles here for great hints and tips on crafting your scripts!
We’ve been hard at work lately having pitching scripts to industry, having pitch meetings with producers and distributors about our many projects! Alex and Ian had a productive meeting at BAFTA recently, discussing the slate and future opportunities. So, what have we been up to? Let’s take a look…
We’ve also recently had pitch meetings with many companies including Film4 and several of our winners’ projects have been going from strength to strength!
We guarantee pitching to industry for the top three scripts from our competition – so enter our Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest today from just $44, and you can follow in the footsteps of our past winners and get your script out there!