Tag Archives: script pipeline

Screenwriter Interview – Tripper Clancy

Script Pipeline Winner Tripper Clancy found management through the contest and this year has gone on to sell projects to 20th Century Fox & QED International.  Tripper has kindly agreed to share his experiences with Script Angel.

HM: The script that won the Script Pipeline contest was Henry the Second. I’m guessing that wasn’t the first spec script you’d completed. How many scripts had you written by then and how long had you been writing for?

TC: I can’t tell you an exact number, but I had probably written around a dozen feature-length specs before I wrote Henry. I had been in LA for five years at that point, writing for another two on top of that if you count film school. Most of the work I had done until then was with my writing partner, so Henry was an opportunity for me to stretch my legs in a solo effort and find my voice. I’m glad I wrote it.

HM: Winning the Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest in 2010 seemed to open lots of doors for you. Was that the first big contest you’d submitted to?

TC: Script Pipeline was the first (and only) big contest I entered. Since I was already a represented writer, I thought, “What good would a screenwriting contest do me?” But my manager at the time didn’t believe in Henry enough to show it to producers, something about it not being commercial enough—which was heart-breaking—so I decided to test the waters myself and submit it. When I won the contest, it validated my work and directly led to my new manager and agents. I’m still with them today.

HM: Have you always written stories? When did you realise you wanted to be a writer/screenwriter and that it could be a career?

TC: I grew up playing classical piano and guitar, so my first love was song writing. I probably wrote 100 songs by the time I was 18, but it was just a hobby, a fun creative outlet. My junior year in college at Wake Forest University, I took an intro screenwriting course. I’ve always loved movies, so I thought it’d be a fun class, but it was more than just fun. It tapped into that same creative outlet in a cathartic way. After that semester, I knew I wanted this to be my career… I just didn’t know how much work was ahead of me. Ignorance is bliss.

HM: What was first full script you wrote? What made you write it?

TC: It was called Tin Stars, about four buddies who decide to write a screenplay together. Holy shit, what a logline that is! It wasn’t Oscar-winning material, but I played around with voice over, dream sequences, and all those other supposed ‘crutches’ you’re never supposed to use. I think I got an A in that intro screenwriting class, but I’m pretty sure anyone who actually finished their script that semester got an A. Like winning a good participant ribbon.

HM: What did you do with it and how did you know what to do with it?

TC: I used it to apply to graduate film schools. I ended up choosing the two-year M.A. program at University of Texas in Austin, which is probably the greatest place on earth to be broke and write screenplays. It’s also where I met my wife, so yeah, I love Austin.

HM: Did you have a plan of where you wanted to be in five years’ time?

TC: I knew I wanted to be in LA and writing for a living. I had no idea how I’d accomplish that. My plan was to take whatever soul-sucking day job I could find that could pay the bills, and then write mornings/nights/weekends until I broke into the industry. And that’s what I did.

HM: Writers often struggle with the catch-22 that producers won’t read scripts by unrepped writers and managers/agents only take on writers if they’ve got a producer interested. What was your experience of trying to get the industry to read your script?

TC: I actually disagree with this theory. You can definitely land representation without a producer attachment. From my experience, I think managers more so than agents are willing to take a shot at an unknown writer if they believe in his/her voice. Managers can develop that voice and help guide it to a commercial place. Then, once a script or two starts to gain traction with producers/studios, your manager can set meetings with potential agents for you. But at the end of the day, managers or agents are only as good as the material you give them, so ultimately it’s up to you to write a great script.

HM: How did you get your first manager/agent?

TC: I wrote query letters. Lots of them. And then finally had a film school friend working at a small agency who was nice enough to push my query letter in front of an agent there, which got me read and eventually signed. But landing an agent or manager doesn’t guarantee you anything. They’ll slip your spec places, but if you don’t get a good initial response from producers, you could be searching for a new rep before you know it. Rejection is simply part of the process. I hopped around several places until I found reps that didn’t just believe in the promise of one spec, but believed in me as a writer. That’s the key, but it often takes a little while years to find that.

HM: Emerging writers often feel that if they could just break in and get that first credit, then it’ll be a full-time paid job where the work just keeps coming in. Is it really like that, can you ever just sit back and watch the work come to you and pick and choose or do you still need to hustle?

TC: If you’re looking to sit back and let work come to you, then screenwriting is not for you. It’s a constant hustle. You’re always being asked to prove yourself over and over again, especially in feature writing. As you move up, studios will contact your agents and bring you source material or see if you’d pitch on an assignment, and maybe they’re only asking you and one or two other writers. That’s a good situation to be in, but even then, you have to pitch your ass off to land the job over the other writer(s) who are probably just as deserving. One thing aspiring writers don’t realize is how important it is to be good in the room. Your previous scripts will get you in the door, but you have to win people over in the room in order to sell the pitch or land the OWA. You have to prove that you’re the only person in the world who could write this script (or at least the best one in their price range). Secondly, that first big check you get won’t be all it’s cracked up to be. Go check out John August’s “Money 101 for Screenwriters” on his website.

HM: What projects are you writing at the moment?

TC: I’m currently writing Stranded, a family adventure comedy starring Kevin James for Sony and I’m about to start work on an action comedy remake for a division of Warner Brothers. I also have a new comedy spec out to talent.

HM: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

TC: Write your fuck you script. Don’t think about the marketplace or what studios are buying—by the time you write your script, the landscape will have changed anyway. Sure, it needs structure, compelling characters, etc., but beyond that, just write the most interesting thing to you and don’t worry about its commercial value. With any luck, you’ll find your voice by doing this and if it’s a unique voice, doors will open for you.

Thanks Tripper!

Screenwriting Contests

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Placing in a well respected screenwriting contest can bring your writing to the attention of the industry. Here’s my round-up of the best film and television writing contests in the UK and US. This list is updated at the beginning of every month so do subscribe to the blog to get future updates straight to your inbox. banner script angel screenwriting contests

Top Tip – get feedback on your script ahead of time to be sure you’re submitting the best sample of your writing.

Berlinale Talent Campus – Deadline: 1 September 2016.

Blue Cat Screenplay Competition – Deadline: 1 September 2016 (early) / 15 October 2016 (regular) / 15 November 2016 (final).  Accepting shorts and feature length scripts.

Tracking Board Launch Pad Features Contest – Deadline: 6 September 2016 (late) / 21 September 2016 (final).

Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition – Deadline: 8 September 2016 (regular) / 6 October 2016 (late) / 3 November 2016 (final). Accepting feature scripts up to 130pp, tv scripts up to 75pp, short film scripts up to 25pp.

American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest – Deadline: 15 September 2016.  Screenplays 82-145pp.

Cinequest Screenwriting Competition  – Deadline: 23 September 2016 (regular) / 14 October 2016 (late) / 4 November 2016 (final). Features, teleplays (60′ & 30′) and shorts.

4Screenwriting – Deadline: 25 September 2016 (final). Accepting screenplays (film or tv), stage plays and radio plays. Open to residents of UK and Ireland. Applicants must be available to attend the course in London on specified dates. Opens Monday 5th September.

BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing – Film Script Call – Deadline: 27 September 2016.

Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Contest – Deadline: 30 September 2016 (regular) / 30 November 2016 (late) / 6 January 2017 (final).  Screenplays 80-120pp, short script under 40pp, half-hour tv comedy script 22-35pp, one-hour tv drama 45-65pp.

C21 Drama Series Script Competition – Deadline: 13 October 2016. Pilot script (max 60pp) and supporting document. Finalists receive high-level mentoring. Winning writer receives $10,000 and the script will go into development with eOne Television. 

Screencraft Action & Thriller Screenplay Contest – Deadline: 15 October 2016 (regular) / 20 October 2016 (final). Screenplays up to 140pp.

Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship with The Black List – Deadline: 5 November 2016.

Screenwriting Goldmine Competition  – Deadline: 8 December 2016 (final) – Film & TV scripts 45-120pp. (UK focused) Opens 6 October 2016.

Screencraft Family Screenplay Contest – Deadline: 30 December 2016 (final). Opens for submissions 4 November 2016.

Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship – Deadline: 30 December 2016 (regular) / 15 January 2017 (final). Opens 1 October 2016.

TO LOOK OUT FOR AT A LATER DATE:

Universal Pictures’ Emerging Writers Fellowship – Deadline: usually November.

Hamptons International Film Festival Screenwriters’ Lab – Deadline: usually January. Feature length screenplays only.

Seattle International Film Festival Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually January.

The Red Planet Prize – Deadline: usually January. Accepting tv screenplays. 

Nickelodeon TV Writing Program – Deadline: usually February. Spec scripts for one of their listed shows. Open to US and international applicants.

London Independent Film Festival Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually March.  Short & feature length scripts.

European Independent Film Festival Script Competition – Deadline: usually March. Short scripts 5-50pp & feature length scripts 80-130pp. Looking for scripts NOT aimed at mainstream Hollywood film markets.

Cinestory Screenwriting Retreat Contest – Deadline: usually March.  Screenplay 85-130pages.

The Sitcom Trials – Deadline: usually March. 10-minute sitcom extract with a cliffhanger ending.

The PAGE International Screenwriting Awards – Deadline: usually April. Short scripts up to 40pp, feature screenplays 80-120pp, TV drama pilots 50-70pp, TV comedy pilots 25-45pp. 

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting:  Deadline: usually May. Screenplays 90-120pp.

Edinburgh International Film Festival Talent Lab – Deadline: usually April. Open to screenwriters, producers & directors. Feature films only.

Scriptapalooza –  Deadline: usually April. Screenplays 80-140pp.

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest – Deadline:  usually May.  Feature length screenplays.

Script Pipeline TV Writing Contest – Deadline:  usually May.  Any length script, pilot of original or spec of existing show.

Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab – Deadline: usually May. Feature length screenplays. U.S residents only.

Sitcom Mission – Deadline: usually May. Submit 15 minute sitcom script for tv, radio or stage.

Austin Film Festival Screenplay & Teleplay Competition – Deadline: usually May. Feature scripts 90-120pp, teleplays (original pilot or spec of existing show) 45-70pp, sitcom scripts 22-40pp.

Tracking Board Launch Pad Pilot Contest – Deadline: usually May. Original tv spec scripts up to 70pp.

Warner Brothers Writers’ Workshop – Deadline: usually May. Spec script of selected existing shows. Must be available to attend workshops in Los Angeles.

Disney/ABC Writing Fellowship – Deadline: Usually May. Applicants must be able to prove US employment eligibility.

Screamfest Horror Film Festival Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually June.  Feature screenplays 75-130pp in Horror genre.

New York TV Festival Comedy Script Competition – Deadline: usually June.

Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award – Deadline: usually July. Submit 30-60 minute television drama script. Applicants must be under 30 and non-US residents.

Screencraft Horror Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually July. Screenplays up to 140pp.

Emerging Screenwriters Screenplay Competition – Deadline: usually July.

Big Break Screenwriting Contest– Deadline: usually July. Teleplays 25-70pp / Screenplays 80-120pp.

Screencraft Pilot Launch TV Script Contest – Deadline: usually August.

Shore Scripts Screenplay Competition – Deadline: usually August – Feature screenplays 80-120pp, tv pilots 15-70pp, short screenplays 3-20pp.

Good luck!

Script Angel in the City of Angels

Last weekend was the Screenwriters World Conference in L.A. It was a great opportunity for me and the 100s of writers attending to hear directly from the screenwriters, managers, agents and producers working in Hollywood today.

screenwriters world conference pic

There were many fabulous sessions on the craft of screenwriting; writing the spec, writing for tv, writing the micro-budget film, writing web series, writing subtext, writing the emotional core, writing compelling characters, writing horror. Whatever your screenwriting interest, there was someone with experience in that specialism there to help you get to grips with it.

What struck me was that not just the delegates but the speakers too were incredibly well-read on the craft of screenwriting. There was a strong sense that becoming a great screenwriter is about learning your craft. Most of the people I met, whether aspiring delegates or experienced speakers, have read a huge number books on screenwriting and continue to want to study the craft in order to become more skilled at it. It was not so much being a slave to a set of screenwriting rules but rather having as many tools in your arsenal as possible to help you tell the story you want to tell. I might have read 20+ screenwriting books and been a professional script editor for over ten years but I certainly came away with a big new list of screenwriting must-reads. TOP TIP: Learn your craft by reading screenwriting books, watching films/tv and reading scripts.

As well as honing their craft the delegates also had the chance to hear how to develop their screenwriting career. Certainly, the question that I get asked the most is; how do I get my writing noticed?  I know from experience the frustration that new writers feel on trying to ‘break in’ to an industry that looks like a closed shop. Of course it’s not, and new writers are getting noticed, getting repped, getting meetings and getting gigs all the time.  For me, the sessions on establishing a screenwriting career were of particular interest so that I can better help my writing clients to develop their screenwriting career in UK and the US in both film and television. TOP TIP: Learn who’s who by reading the trades.

My writing clients have had great success and got representation following wins or finalist placings in the prestigious screenwriting contests like the Nicholl Fellowship, but I was keen to hear whether the big managers and agents really take notice of contests. I made sure to attend the session on Getting An Agent with Jake Wagner of Benderspink, Josh Dove of Haven Entertainment, Zac Frognowski of Grandview and moderated by Script Mag Editor Jeanne Bowerman. Since none of these guys take unsolicited approaches, how do they find new writing talent? The answer was recommendations from colleagues, contest placings and other filter platforms like The Black List. TOP TIP: Learn who is getting deals for their writers by reading the trades.

Of course not all screenwriting contests are equal but they definitely see the most prestigious contests as a kind of vetting process. Jake makes sure he and his team take a look at all the finalists of contests like Script Pipeline. In addition, the Nicholls circulate the loglines and contact details of their quarter-finalists to the industry so if you do well in the big screenwriting contests your work is getting seen by people you couldn’t otherwise get access to. TOP TIP: Research the contests that give their finalists great exposure.

Many producers, agents and managers also attend pitching sessions like the one held at SWC, as well as at other prestigious events like Story Expo, The Great American Pitchfest, and the London Screenwriters’ Festival. Pitching at events like these can get you read-requests and, if they like what they read, that all-important general meeting and the start of a working relationship. TOP TIP: Attend pitching events to start meeting and building relationships with managers, agents and producers.

The big take-away for me was that yes, it’s tough but it is also possible to make it. If you hone your craft, write killer material and develop a strategy for your career then becoming a professional screenwriter is within your reach.