Are you undecided about entering Euroscript’s Screenwriting Competition?
Don’t overthink it. Just do it.
To my mind it is one of the best British screenwriting competitions, and unique in that it focuses on treatments. True, you must submit ten pages of a script – but not necessarily the script of the story you tell in your treatment. The focus of this competition is very much on story, and on you as a storyteller.
Here’s why I recommend you enter this competition.
1. Test the viability of a story idea
Factoring in several re-writes, a feature film script is going to take at least 6 months of your life to get right – usually much longer. If you’re going to invest all that time, you want to be sure you have a strong premise and enough story to underpin a viable, compelling script.
I use this competition to road test ideas. I have entered it four times, and placed twice. “Dowl’s Mill” came third in 2013 and “A Face To Paint” came second in 2015. Both of the scripts that grew out of those top-three treatments then went on to win awards.
The other two treatments that didn’t place still need re-thinking to turn them into stories that work as feature films. Fortunately, because of N°2 below, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve that will help me to re-shape and improve them…
2. Receive valuable feedback
Writing is about communicating to an audience, but when we are creating our stories, we are sometimes so immersed in them that we are blinded by their minutiae. It’s the proverbial “can’t see the woods for the trees” syndrome. Getting feedback gives us a sense of how well we are doing in conveying our intentions.
The beauty of the Euroscript Screenwriting competition is that every entry receives a structured, bullet-point feedback report. This includes an estimation of the budget (high, medium, low); a brief synopsis of the story; a list of positive points; suggestions for improvement and general advice for the writer.
I’ve found the synopsis very useful, as it helps me to verify that the reader understood the story as I thought I’d written it. Also, the reader’s synopsis often contains a turn of phrase that helps me improve my logline or one-page synopsis.
Outlining the positive points of the treatment is helpful because it tells a writer what doesn’t need changing - what to hold on to and build on. The suggested changes can be taken at face value, or, as happened with one of my stories, can prompt a re-think to help come up with an alternative that is even better.
Ultimately, it is your story and so it is up to you to learn to filter out any notes that will harm rather than enhance it. That said, given the high professional standard of Euroscript’s notes, you will probably want to take each and every one on board.
3. Exposure to film executives
It is notoriously difficult to break into screenwriting. You not only compete with established writers, but also with the tens of thousands of wannabes who take to their computers each year. Winning a major screenwriting competition is one of the best ways to get noticed. It's a validation: this person can write!
Euroscript list the twelve finalists of their competition on their blog and then announce the winners live at a “meet the producers” event held at the BFI in London. Here’s the thing: if you place in the competition you stand out amongst all the other writers clamouring for the producers’ attention on the night.
Robyn Slovo (producer of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, “Two Faces Of January” and Thomas Alfredson’s new film “The Snowman”) gave me a recommendation of a producer to send my script to, while Judith King, Head of Development at Red Planet Pictures, requested to read my script as a sample. An extraordinary result for an unrepped writer like myself!
This year, it could be your turn. So what are you waiting for? The competition is open for entries until March 31st.