So the Bluecat Screenwriting Competition announced the winner of their 2007 competition yesterday. "The Stones", by Ana Lily Amirpour. Congrats, Ana.
My experience wasn't as happy.
I'm not sure why I entered Bluecat this year, because I'm not really a contest guy. Last year's Nicholl Fellowship was the first script contest I ever entered, and I guess being a semifinalist spoiled me a little. I'd come close to the glory, and I wanted to taste more.
Never mind that being a Nicholl semifinalist ranks somewhere on the Hollywood totem pole below being Corey Feldman's pool boy.
Bluecat seemed like an interesting contest. It's run by Gordy Hoffman, Philip Seymour Hoffman's brother, and from all accounts he's a nice guy. The contest offers an analysis of every screenplay submitted, which always seemed like a nice homespun thing; they weren't just going to read 30 pages of your script and toss it on a pile, they were going to actually give you some advice about it.
In theory, that's a good thing.
They were also pimping the hell out of it this year, Gordy doing internet or phone interviews with a lot of bloggers shilling his contest.
And, in retrospect, that should have sent up a red flag. But it didn't, and on the last day of the deadline, I impulsively entered my script.
So did everyone else. They got slammed. Over 2300 entries.
And (I'm guessing) they really weren't ready for it. They (or a contest with similar analysis offered to entries, which sounds remarkably like them) had ads on Craigslist, looking for readers for a while this spring. Paying $10 per script, including analysis.
Which, you know, isn't a lot of money to lure really top readers.
So I pretty much forgot about the contest for a while, and went back to life. Cue calendar pages flying off the wall.
The day of the first cut was July 1, which was also the day that all the analysis were supposed to go out. The day before that, the day I was packing to go to Mexico, I got an e-mail from Bluecat, asking me to send them a .pdf of my script.
I figured I was in like Flynn; they must want it to give to the next round of readers. Boo-ya. I sent in the .pdf, and went down to Guadalajara to let Montezuma have his way with me.
I came back 5 days later, and checked my e-mail. A list of the the top 100 scripts. I went through it, waiting for my name to jump out, and it wasn't there.
Which, you know, is fine. Contests are subjective things. That's not what's provoking this rant.
What's provoking this rant is this: yesterday, 5 weeks late, I finally got my analysis.
Included was a form e-mail from Gordy, in which he dropped the 2300 script number, and also proudly said that that meant "over a million and a half words of feedback".
If you do the math on that, that's 650 words of analysis on every script. Not bad.
I got 188 words. Including "Good luck with this and all your future scripts".
The rest of the "analysis"? It was almost entirely praise. 150+ words of mentioning things in my script that work really well.
Which, you know, isn't all that helpful.
Then, under the section "WHAT I THINK NEEDS WORK", there was just the following three lines:
"I really think you have a great script here. Just be mindful of the occasional typo's and you'll do just fine. Good luck with this and all your future scripts".
And yes, they spelled "typos" wrong. Which just made me laugh.
In retrospect, it's pretty clear what happened. They had this massive pile of scripts, and they had to wade through them to make the deadline, and clearly during that first cut, they didn't have any time to knock out analysis on every script.
So why that first reader didn't think my script was good enough to make the cut is lost in the ether.
Then, after they requested the .pdf, they sent it to some other guy, to bang out a couple hundred words of analysis, probably in some MadLibs type template.
At least he liked my script. Too bad he wasn't the first reader.
Bluecat makes sense on many levels, because either your script is solid, and makes the next round, or if it doesn't, you get a sense why. That's how it SHOULD work.
Here, not so much.
Lesson learned. Buyer beware.