The Fundamental Fifteen

I am happy to report that I have finished my BENEATH THE SURFACE business plan and it is now in the hands of my trusted advisers.  Sure, it will require further tweaking and reviewing, but I’m relieved that the bulk of it is done.  The final stretch was much like completing a comprehensive college essay – the statistics, the data, the blocks of movie-making information. <YAWN>  I imagine that a lot of filmmakers lose steam at this stage and I can’t say I blame them – drafting a business plan can feel terribly, tediously uncreative.  I freely admit that I look forward to the day when Deliberate’s COO gets to handle this business-y stuff and I can just swoop in for investor meet-and greets at the Polo Lounge.  But until then, it’s a good and, let’s face it, necessary exercise for any budding indie film producer to go through.  If you’re asking other people to invest their money and faith in you, you have to present them with a well thought-out plan.

I’m ready to get back to some creative writing, though.  I pretty much took the month of May off to finish up the plan and the withdrawal was starting to set it.  I’m like Martin Sheen sitting in his hotel room at the beginning of APOCALYPSE NOW: “I’m here a week now… waiting for a mission… getting softer.  Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.”  Yeah, I’m feeling soft, but I think I’ve found my next writing mission.

Searching for My Kurtz

The Industry Insider Online Screenwriting Contest ( caught my eye because of its unique format.  (Oh yeah…and the winner of last year’s contest just sold his script for six-figures with Mark Wahlberg attached to produce and star.)  Basically, the contest provides a logline and you then submit the first 15 pages of a script based on that logline.  This year’s offering comes from BRAVEHEART screenwriter Randall Wallace:

A soldier returns from an 18-month deployment and finds that the family home is missing – even the address no longer exists.

Intriguing, non?  And so many directions one could go with it.

Out of the submissions, a panel of judges choose ten finalists who then enter into a 12-week Story Specialist Program that has you working with an industry mentor to help shape your script.  This consists of the mentor delivering feedback for every 10 pages submitted, with the goal of guiding you to complete a spec script.  At the end of the program, the scripts are submitted for final judging and a winner is chosen.

I love the mentoring aspect of this contest, especially since you get the opportunity to work with a professional screenwriter.  And I also like the fact that there are deadlines attached throughout – you’re pretty much churning out ten pages a week.  At the end of twelve weeks you should have a solid screenwriting sample in your hands.  And if it happens to sell for six-figures with Ryan Gosling attached?  Sign. Me. Up.

"This script is brilliant! I'M IN!"

But first, I need to come up with those fifteen dynamite-soaked pages…

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