Become the next Grand Prize Winner we pitch to the industry
We love working with a wide range of talented writers and taking their work out to the industry – if you’d like us to do the same for you, enter any of our current contests now! The final deadline is November 12th. To introduce you to last year’s Grand Prize Winner Zack Kahn, writer of CURVEBALL, and the work we’ve done with him to ready it for pitching, read on!
Zack Kahn was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and attended NYU Tisch Film School.
He started his career as a writer/director/producer at Nickelodeon and has since written for film, TV and promos with a focus on thriller/horror and comedy. He is also an actor that has appeared in numerous commercials.
Kahn has placed in Writemovies’ contest with 3 previous entries. “Curveball,” a high-concept thriller, is his first Grand Prize win.
Zack says: “Writemovies’ several rounds of development notes have been extremely insightful and helpful in enhancing the script and I’m eager for their team to expose the project to the appropriate eyeballs and ultimately facilitate production at the best possible home for this unique story.”
For your chance to follow in Zack’s footsteps and become the next Grand Prize winner, enter our 2023 Screenwriting Contest here today! Just $59…
A key part of our philosophy, as we review your submissions.
Reading lots of industry scripts gives you the tools you need to improve your own screenwriting – that’s the value of screenreading. It’s been a key feature of our philosophy over our decades supporting writers to fulfil their industry potential, and is no less important now as the industry emerges from the WGA strike and its impacts on writers and producers. Here’s an Insights article that encapsulates our philosophy that reading high volumes of scripts is crucial to making it possible to either write or edit them successfully. We’ve lived these values for decades: see if you agree!
Read to Write: Screenwriting by Example
by Matt Rose, WriteMovies Analyst
Theoretically, almost anyone could spend 5-10 minutes with an “elements of a screenplay” diagram like the one at https://slugline.co/basics, and churn out 90 pages of something with a beginning, middle, and end. “I’ve seen plenty of movies, how hard could it be?”
Sure, that’s as good a start as any if you’re just dipping a toe in the writerly waters of the film and TV industry, and any page-generation is of course a feat to be proud of. Though, doesn’t it sound strange to attempt to make a movie without ever having seen a movie? So, think about attempting to write a screenplay without reading screenplays.
No matter how big a film buff you may be or how read-up you are on “How To” screenwriting articles, if you want to be a screenwriter, you first need to become a screenreader.
Screenwriter reader? … You get it. The point is, with every screenplay you read, good or bad, you’ll develop your taste for what works and what doesn’t work. Of course you can dissect story structure from watching produced films or series, though you’ll miss out on vital on-the-page aspects that got the script made to begin with.
If you’re new to script-reading, start with the scripts of your favorite films or by your screenwriting idols.
Read a script all the way through, then try some of the below exercises:
• As you read, try to picture a scene holistically, even beyond what’s on the page. Try to “watch” the movie in your imagination. How might the actors deliver these lines or perform these actions, and what about the written script made you think that? What did the description make you “see”: a close-up, a wide angle, shot/reverse-shot? How efficient is the scene set?
• Watch and read a scene simultaneously (or, more accurately, with quick starts and stops). How did it translate? How did the tone of the writing affect its execution? Were you surprised at what was or wasn’t specified on the page (costume, setting, décor)?
• Watch a scene and then try to write it yourself in screenplay format. Then, compare your version with the actual script. While you may have objectively written the “same scene” in that they cover the same plot points, in what subjective, stylistic ways do they differ? Were your action verbs different, and how might word choice impact execution/performances? Did you capture the script’s “attitude” towards its characters? In your opinion, what makes either their or your version more compelling on paper?
By reading with an active mind for what works and what doesn’t, you’ll begin to develop your “taste,” which will ultimately amalgamate into your own personal style, and eventually—along with your unique perspective and lived experience—your “voice” as a writer. Once you feel you have some sense of what makes a great script great, further narrow down your tastes by reading scripts for movies that failed, either in your personal or the general critical opinion. In developing taste, exclusions can be as important as inclusions. Consider what didn’t work, and how it could be improved.
Branch out from extremes into gray areas. Reading scripts for movies that make you unpassionately say, “Eh, not the worst, but could’ve been better,” is a useful tool in developing your inner constructive-critic. Also try to get your hands on unproduced scripts or amateur screenwriting with intriguing premises. With a grasp on what makes screenwriting pop or flop, think of what changes might’ve made for a better read.
Even a long-active writer benefits from getting outside of themselves and assessing someone else’s work. Think about the trope of the narrative foil: sometimes we’re not able to notice our own feats or shortcomings until we see their exaggeration or their opposite in another. Maintaining an active readership, you may be surprised to find that something you loved or hated in one script—from plot twist to dialogue to tone—unlocks a new way of looking at your own rewrite that’s had you stumped.
For all screenwriters, it’s important to start or continue reading scripts. There are many resources for finding full screenplays to read online, including:
• Script Slug – a vast, searchable database of screenplays
• Simply Scripts – a plethora of scripts with a toolbar of useful categories like “Unproduced Scripts” and “Oscar Scripts”
• TV Writing – mostly for US and UK television pilots
• Indie Film Hustle – compiled list of Oscar-contender screenplays for the 2022-2023 season
Enter our latest contests now – click here!
Why we’re pausing all pitching until 2023 WGA strike disputes are resolved.
WriteMovies would like to welcome our new Analyst Matt Rose, who shares our response to the 2023 WGA strike below:
Our team here at WriteMovies stands behind the Writers Guild of America during their current strike as they put the scripted film and television industries on hold in advocating for fair wages, protections from being overworked and understaffed, and safeguards against AI screenwriting.
As script consultants and contest runners, we’ve worked with countless writers, both aspiring and experienced, and we understand the painstaking labor that goes into perfecting a screenplay for production. From blockbusters to indie hits, we know that every great film or series begins with an excellent script. In all respects, we pride ourselves on doing everything we can to hone and bolster the voices of screenwriters. In solidarity with the writers who keep the entertainment industry afloat as proven by the numerous production delays and shutdowns effected by their strike WriteMovies will not be pitching to any studios that are WGA signatories until the strike comes to an end.
The demands of the WGA, outlined by AP News, include calls for much-needed updates to outdated wage and labor standards, which have effectively been used to underpay and overwork screenwriters in recent years. As audiences continue to move away en masse from live television towards streaming platforms, writers’ residuals from syndication have all but vanished while long-term streaming deals leave writers’ compensation disproportionate to their value. The WGA calls for increased upfront pay to correct for residuals lost to the streaming era.
Also based on norms of the past, overly-long exclusivity deals leftover from the age of 22-episode TV seasons block writers from accepting available work despite 8-10 episode seasons now being commonplace. The WGA demands shorter exclusivity terms to mirror the shrinking of TV seasons. The guild also wants to end the exploitation of “mini rooms” which overwork a handful of writers during development, and they demand contractual safeguards against studios’ and producers’ use of artificial intelligence to write scripts.
Any pitching to studios and producers is considered a crossing of the picket line even for aspiring guild writers, who may be permanently barred from WGA membership for scab behavior though writers may continue seeking agents or managers, according to screenwriter and WGA secretary-treasurer Christopher Kyle. WriteMovies will continue to offer our screenplay contests and development services, and our studio pitching for winning scripts will resume as soon as the WGA strike comes to a close. In the meantime, we are working as hard as ever to aid our winning writers in polishing their scripts and prepping our pitch materials!
Find out more about WriteMovies’ contests and submission opportunities HERE.
Essential reading for screenwriters this year! The history of the modern Hollywood blockbuster, with dozens of awesome interviews!
We’re proud to announce that this year Dr. Alex Ross will be publishing his new book BLOCKBUSTED – a history of modern Hollywood blockbuster films, packed with amazing industry interviews and insights. Film fans are going to love this!
The book is due to be published in May or June. Alex says: “every fan of The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars, ET, Back to the Future and Blade Runner will want to find out more, as the book will provide never before shared insights.”
We’ve got lots of insights, endorsements and extracts from the book to share with you over the coming months… let the countdown begin!
Click here to see what Alex can do for you!
We’re pausing our contests to focus on a big year for our founder and recent winners.
Like many people and businesses, 2022 was a challenging year for us, with unexpected staffing changes and resultant delivery challenges. This left us with a bigger backlog of work than we anticipated, but coming into 2023 we’re ready and refocused for an exciting year for us, our founder Alex Ross, and our winners. Here are a few headlines of what to expect in 2023!
We’re pausing our contests while we focus on Alex’s news and on delivering great results in the industry for our 2022 winners and existing clients. You can still submit for our “Anytime Entry” to get a 10-page Analysis of your script and a free submission of your redraft to the next relevant WriteMovies contest. We will work personally with any existing submissions to help them get the most out of their entry.
Our consultancy services are now delivered directly by Alex Ross – literally the world’s most qualified person in why films succeed and fail! They still also come with a free contest entry. Check out the many packages and prices available here!
We have big announcements to make about Alex’s work and publications in 2023, including book news which all screenwriters will want to know about – watch this space in the coming weeks!
We’ll also be working with our winning writers and clients behind the scenes – and will be pitching them to industry soon! We’ll introduce them and their scripts on our website and newsletters for you soon.
We’ll also be turning Alex’s, and our own, lectures and insights into snappy online videos and online courses!
We’re really looking forward to this year – hope you are too!