Cinequest's Screenwriting Competition Winners

As a story analyst I’ve judged competition entries at all levels from first round to finals. First round competition weeds out the not-ready-for-primetime scripts and determines which scripts possess the potential to compete at the next level. By the time the hundreds and hundreds of submissions have been culled to the finals – the best of the best – its gets very difficult to decide which ones are the best. That’s why I consider it a privilege to be a final round judge for the 30 Minute Teleplay category of this year’s Cinequest Film Festival’s screenwriting competitions. The quality of the submissions to this festival's competitions continues to impress me. Congratulations to the winners in all categories:

30 Minute Teleplay:

Winner: “Throwing Shade” by Ada Lee Halofsky
2nd Place: “Isaac Newton” Gifted by Bo Price
3rd Place: “Department of Ghouls” by Jeremy Dorfman

60 Minute Teleplay:

Winner: “Nightingale” by AJ Bermudez
2nd Place: “Company Town” by Samantha Levenshus
3rd Place: “Nevermore” by Lilly Slaydon

Feature Screenplay:

Winner: “Rubbish” by John Dilley & Seth Corr
2nd Place: “WorkingMan” by Robert Jury
3rd Place: “Johnny Ace” by Moon Molson

Short Screenplay:  

Winner: “Against the River” by Dan Ritter
2nd Place: “Flop by Nick” Coleman
3rd Place: “It Gets Heavier” by Sam Davis

For a list of all the finalists scroll down to the bottom of this Cinequest site page.

Third Thursdays from ISA

Synoptic Media was proud to be a sponsor for the International Screenwriters’ Association’s Third Thursdays networking events last week in Los Angeles and London.  I met some of ISA’s team members, including founder Craig James Pietrowiak, and learned more about some of the exciting things happening at ISA.

Synoptic Media's Liza Olson with ISA founder Craig James Pietrowiak at ISA's Third Thursdays event in Los Angeles

The association not only connects writers but also hosts contests, fellowships, and other events. Its website serves as a clearinghouse for information on writing, film reviews, and contest deadlines, along with podcasts, classes, and other resources for writers.  My service, the Contest Prep Report, which evaluates feature-length scripts with competitions in mind, is listed on their site under Consultants.

I also met writer Matt Lohr, who is moderating a pre-Oscar panel discussion at The Writers Store in Burbank, on February 25 at 2:00p.m. The event is free.

Tip for Writers:  ISA’s Fast Track fellowship program application deadline – March 1 – is fast approaching.

New Service: The Contest Prep Report

I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of screenwriting contest entries. I’ve read every genre and genre mashup you can think of, with original ideas and not-so-original ideas, linear plots and non-linear plots, male POVs and female POVs, happy endings and twist endings. You name it, I’ve read it. But the one thing many of them have in common is they were not ready to compete. Many entries lack even the basic qualifications needed to advance to the next round of competition.

This is why I’ve started a new service for writers called the Contest Prep Report. I will evaluate your script based on 15 different criteria I’ve developed, provide written feedback including tips and suggestions, and a list of top action items to help get your script in shape and ready to compete and to get "past the Reader."

Check out the particulars of the Contest Prep Report here, and feel free to contact me with any questions.

What Story Analysts Do and Don't Do: The Interview

What do Story Analysts really do? The easiest answer, especially when meeting someone new, is to say "we read screenplays." That's part of the job. But it really depends on for what company or person we are doing the reading. I discussed that with Brianne Hogan of Creative Screenwriting magazine, who recently interviewed me for her "Meet the Reader" feature.

We talked about multi-tasking, writing exercises, and why writers need to think like writers. Check it out, along with the online magazine's other great resources.