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12/07/2001
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Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest


Not everyone is as backward as I am. I don't have any type of script software, a fact that the guys in my writers' group constantly bemoan. Script software may make you a more efficient writer, but it doesn't automatically make you a better writer. And Final Draft, which sponsors its own contest, would accept submissions even if they were written with (gasp!) a typewriter. I spoke to Marc Madnick at Final Draft about the contest.

Q: How did the contest start?
A: About 95% of the staff at Final Draft are screenwriters. We know how hard it is to break in. Since we're a trusted brand and have access to writers, we felt that if we ran a contest, we could help them.

Q: How many entries to you receive?
A: 2,000 a year.

Q: What's the selection process?
A: We use professional readers who read the first round scripts. The top scoring scripts are the semi-finalists. They are read by an internal panel, which includes myself. Ten to twenty scripts are chosen to be the finalists and are forwarded to our industry judges, such as Stephen J. Cannell and Syd Field. They decide the winner.

Q: What are some big don'ts you've seen in submissions?
A: We are a screenplay software company, so format counts. The script should look professional. Once we received a 41-page script. I sent the guy his money back.

Q: Who are your success stories?
A: Our first year winner, Ken Hastings, had his script produced. The film stars Elizabeth Hurley and Denis Leary. Our second year winner, Tori Mullens, had her script optioned by Cannell Studios.

Q: What are your plans for the contest next year?
A: We stopped giving coverage on submissions because we found that it took too long and the writers weren't always happy with what was said.

Final Draft has recently begun accepting entries for their third annual screenwriting contest. You can check out complete rules on their website at www.finaldraft.com. Their deadline is March 15, 2002, so that gives you plenty of time to be perfecting a script. Plenty. Even if you have a typewriter.

Monica Zepeda
iam_monica@excite.com


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