you can find few more self-involved, pretentious people in the world than writers. and i say that because i am one. i love writing. or, in the words of Woody Allen, i luff it. but that doesn’t change the fact that we can be an annoying group of people. part of that is because it takes longer to enjoy our art than say, listening to a song or viewing a sculpture. and a bigger part of it is because we can be difficult people.
i recently entered the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition, which is run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the same people who do the Oscars. this is my second time entering the competition and will not be the last. unless i happen to win and then i can’t ever enter it again.
i frequently check the Nicholl Fellowships facebook page because it is a never-ending source of humor (that’s humour for our British readers – yeah, i check the stats). everyone who posts on it is an aspiring screenwriter, but some of the stuff people say is absolutely mind-boggling:
yes…this happens every year since 1927. but only if the screenplay is FIRST made into a movie. not everyone knows this, sure, but i think every writer should. after all, we practice our future acceptance speeches when we’re on the toilet.
yes, it is too late for you to enter. your time stamp says “May 8,” and 8 comes after 2.
don’t get me wrong, a lot of good questions and comments are made, and i have a great respect for the person who has to respond to all of the questions because they have a lot more class, patience, and professionalism than myself. of course, if i was getting paid to respond, i’d probably find a way to more class, patience, and professionalism.
one of the reasons i check the Nicholl page is because every day until the winners announcement, they post comments from the judges reading the submissions. it’s always encouraging to read the positive feedback about other non-professional screenwriters like myself. it gives me hope knowing that one of those scripts (and therefore writers) will become a professional, so i too have a chance – if not this year, perhaps next. but there’s always some [insert not nice name here] who always has to mess up the good feeling:
i know that a lot of these writers are jesting, but when they make the same comment over and over and over, it makes me think, “maybe they’re not really joking, but really are that full of themselves.”
also, writers ask the same questions over and over and over with slight tweaks.
-“how long does the screenplay have to be? i’m at 160 pages and i’m worried it’s too long.”
Staff response: There is no specified length for the contest, but as the posted rules state, we suggest writers remain within the 90-120 page window. A 160-page screenplay is only typical for established writers. Make sure every scene, line, and word contributes to the story.
(The next day)
-“My screenplay is 40 pages long…will I be disqualified for it being too short?”
Staff response: There is no specified length for the contest, but as the posted rules state, we suggest writers remain within the 90-120 page window. The contest is designed for feature-length works, which are typically at least 60 pages. Consider adding subplots to enhance your script.
(2 seconds later)
-“I’m in the middle of a re-write and was wondering how long should my screenplay be to enter?”
apparently writers are not so good at reading, or at least, reading the rules to the contest they are entering. so as i read these often-inane comments, i am struck with the question: am i that bad? or, did i used to be that bad? the answer is probably yes. my favorite representation of the typical writer remains Bill Murray‘s character Jeff in the comedy classic Tootsie. if you haven’t seen it, you should.
when it comes down to it, there is only one group of people more self-involved and annoying than writers. you guessed it…bloggers. (Add one drop of irony. Serves 8-12.)