Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why I'll never enter another script contest...

In the past two years, I've only entered two script contests. One was at UCLA and the other was the Hollywood Black Film Festival. My UCLA script won honorable mention. Solid. But my script for the HBFF didn't place. Honestly, I'd even forgotten I'd entered the thing because the festival ended about three months ago. But I received the evaluation of my script yesterday. Here's my beef. No one identified the criteria which the script would be judged before submitting. If I'd known, I wouldn't have submitted. Here's the first criteria: Does the script portray a positive portrayal of black life or characters. Out of ten, my script received a two. Why? Because (and I want to yell this like University of Colorado football coach Dan Hawkins) it's a GANGSTER script, brother! The people in the script are nasty, mean and psychotic. Of course they're not positive role models! Who knew this could even be a criteria for judging a script? The ONE note I received talked about how the script "reveled" in violence. Well...uh...yeah. Unfortunately, some folks believe that every black script or film has to be a "positive" depiction of black life. I believe that there needs to be a plurality of scripts depicting black life. But that's an argument for another day.

My 434 teacher Dave Johnson said something at the end of my first year that was the ding dong moment in my film school experience. He said that he had a friend who won every contest and had yet to sell a script. That doesn't mean one can't sell a script after having won a contest, but if you want to be a professional, you should begin to focus on the business versus the contest route asap. I sent my Yardies script in during my last quarter before graduating and I think it's a nice end point for my film school experience. Maybe (after a dozen or so rewrites) someone in Hollywood will like a good, bloody gangster flick that has a bit of violence. They've made a few in the past.

No comments: