TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 3)

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This is what the screen looks like after you submit and pay the $25. Pretty simple. I had to check a bunch of boxes and what genres it falls into and curious questions on setting, characters, plot trope, etc. Pretty interesting way to search for scripts. As you can see from the top, nothing too much happens when you submit. It shows I had one script submitted and active. There are currently zero reviews and zero downloads. (uh oh…)

The picture I find funny. I guess based on what you click, it puts little pictures to kind of visualize the type of story it is. If you notice to the top right of the screen, it says “pilot” on the script. There is another choice for screenplay when you submit. Pilots are typically 60 pages at length while movie screenplays are 120-140 pages at length (though if its longer, you might need to have some industry pull or name recognition).

On the left is where you see the “opportunities” that you can submit to. A few of them look interesting to me. I might write a screenplay and submit to one just to see what happens. Some will get you into a writing conference while another is a paid gig from WB, if submitted. I did the ATX, which was for free and a chance to attend the festival which I live near. I find all of this pretty neat. It’s much better than stories of valet’s accidentally leaving behind their manuscript in the cars of producers or sliding it beneath bathroom stalls. I’m not sure if I ever heard of a story where one of them was actually produced.

One additional rule is if you get chosen, a biography and additional background information is required within a week. I’m guessing this is to make sure you are not writing from San Quentin or something.

I’ll keep you updated as this hope this thing moves forward.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 2)

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So I did it. With a day left I finished my first TV pilot. It was called “No Returns Allowed” and is about a thief. After the blacklist contest time period, if enough people comment or request it, I’ll just post it on the blog for free. The contest is for the ATX festival in Austin, TX which I live near, so I figured it could be a good opportunity (maybe they want local voices). I heard about the contest relatively late (around 3 weeks prior to submission). I asked myself “Hey, remember back in college when you wrote that screenplay that never went anywhere?” I shook my head assuredly and said “Now that you’ve written a few novels and know about plot structure and design, couldn’t you try this again?” I nodded my head again. Okay, I was game.

I came up with the new plot in 30 minutes. Unlike a movie, a TV pilot has to introduce all the characters and the setup to the show and give the hook. I figured out a way to do it, in order for it to be clear what every following episode would be about. I then wrote an arc to what the first 3 seasons would be, with a cliffhanger at the end of each. This gave me a sense of the nuggets I had to put in the pilot.

It took me 4-5 days of actual writing to get it done. I had one person copy edit it for me, but I’m sure there are errors. I didn’t use Final Draft to format it, only the established guidelines of screenplay writing. I also read the pilots of Lost, Breaking Bad and the screenplay to Birdman to see the tricks in those stories. I sensed a trick early on. It seems actors get direction on the manner in which they play their character, and then later on in scripts less direction is given so the actors can run with it. I tried to do the same besides adding pause beats here and there. If you want to read a crazy pilot, try LOST. Dang, J.J.Abrams really gave a sense of the chaos in the pilot. Pretty amazing.

I went on the blacklist website http://www.blcklst.com and simply registered and paid my $25 to upload my teleplay. Then there was an easy to find option to opt it into the contest, which technically ends the 15th of April, however the contest stipulated it needed to be in at least a week. I can only assume there is an inherent advantage to submitting early. I would have paid $50 for a reader to critique it, but due to timing, I figured it would be dead money. I just have a hope and a prayer at this point.

If it did get consideration for the top “5-10” then that would be a good story in itself based on the long odds and having zero contacts in the TV business (The signup for the blacklist has a bunch of blocks for guilds and production history and other TV associations which made me go “um … uh oh Matt.”)

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 1)

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For you writers out there, one of the old ways to get discovered is though writing contests. Usually you want to focus on the ones with more history or more backing from industry insiders. For those of you that know how to write teleplays, there is an open call for the ATX Television Festival for full hour or half hour scripts. 5-10 scripts will be selected and winners will be announced in Austin, TX on June 9-12.

Although there is no monetary prize, it is a good way to get noticed. Bad Robot, Carlton Cuse Productions, FX, Sony, and USA Network are partnering with this contest.

The rules are a bit vague for timelines, but according to comments on various sites, the script has to be uploaded and a $25 fee needs to be paid by at least 4/8/16 if my math is correct. That would give it enough time to be on the site a full week. I am guessing that if you win, you might get transportation to the festival and some swag and a chance to talk with some insiders (maybe you have to hitchhike, I don’t really know). If you do well with that, you might have a chance at a writing gig, which would be awesome.

What? You ask how I can┬ápost this three days from the due date … well, I only found out about it last week, so don’t blame me. Twitter is clogged with people shanking each other with adds, which makes it hard for good people to get the word out. I’m sure if you don’t finish in time there will be an opportunity next year or in other contests. I read there was also a pitch competition using youtube which could have been cool to those less scribing-inclined, so to speak.

As for me, I am rushing to finish my teleplay. If any of you have formatting questions, please leave a comment and I’ll let you know what I did.

Keep writing.

I’ll keep you posted of what happens on my journey.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST