SCREENWRITER: Patrick Darrow Bohan (Burbank, California)

Q: Patrick...when did you write your first screenplay?

A: I wrote my first screenplay in high school. Looking back it was probably the most depressing thing I ever wrote and I’m glad I have grown since then.

Q: To date, approximately how many screenplays have you written?

A: I'd have to say I've written close to a dozen completed scripts, including both teleplays and features. If we're counting half-started and partially written scripts that I abandoned to die, it's probably closer to fifty.

Q: Which screenwriting competitions have you entered and seen through to a final result?

A: Most recently I entered a script in the Table Read My Screenplay contest. I made it to the semi-finals but did not end up a finalist. I have entered this contest before (semi-finalist) and like it because they will provide additional feedback for a small fee, which not all contests do. I've also entered the Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival Screenwriting Competition. 

Q: Approximately how many screenplays did you write prior to entering your first competition?

A: I had written maybe two or three screenplays before I decided to enter one in a competition. The script I ended up entering was the first script I had written in film school and received much praise from my teachers and fellow students about it, so I figured I'd take a chance. 

Q: Did the competition(s) offer feedback—notes, critique, etc.—on the script(s) you entered? If so, what was the quality of the feedback?

A: As I said, the Table Read My Screenplay competition did offer feedback. Of all the competitions I've entered they were the only one to do so (at least the only ones not charging an outrageous price). The criticism was not too in-depth, but it did identify certain flaws with my scripts that I will hopefully have fixed in future rewrites. 

Q: Did any of the competitions you entered try to hit you up for pay-based services, such as script consulting, proofing, etc.?

A: Usually there is always a fee for any sort of criticism or consultation in addition to the fee you are paying for entering the contest. If the fee being asked for is more than the entry fee I usually do not choose it. I could go back to film school for some of the fees people charge to tell me what I could find out from just asking a friend to read my script.

Q: Have you ever taken advantage of any of these services? If so, was this a negative or positive experience?

A: Yes, I did take advantage of the critique offered by Table Read Your Screenplay. I found the notes positive and encouraging. 

Q: If you won or placed high in a competition, did it have any effect, positive or negative, on your career?

A: Not particularly. It is something to add to a query letter which might increase your chances of someone wanting to read the script, but I have not noticed any particular increase.

Q: What types of prizes (monetary and non-monetary) have you won from the screenplay competitions you’ve entered?

A: Free screenplay writing and selling guides. Some lecture videos. One contest gave me a coupon for Amtrak, which was kind of nice. All the really good stuff is saved for the winners.

Q: Other than any material rewards and/or valuable feedback, what have been the most satisfying aspects of winning a competition?

A: It’s a pretty nice reward just having someone who isn't a close friend or relative think your writing is good. So much of screenwriting is done in solitude; it's hard to convince yourself you're not just wasting time.

Q: Have you ever submitted one of your early screenplays into a competition? If so, is it something you now regret—and why?

A: NO! Never! I would burn them all and wipe my memory of those first scripts if I weren't so attached to them. 

Q: Do you feel that adding "I won/placed high in the [name of script comp]" to query letters and pitches prompted any additional interest from agents, managers and/or production companies you queried?

A: Not particularly. Probably depends on the contest and what positioned you placed. I didn't notice any.

Q: Overall, what do you feel were the positive aspects of entering a screenplay competition?

A: Having some recognition for your hard work…knowing that you are not just wasting time, but are actually creating something with some merit.

Q: Overall, what do you feel were the negative aspects of entering a screenplay competition?

A: It can be tough choosing which contests to enter. It can also get kind of expensive with so many entries.

Q: What is your current status as a screenwriter?

A: Seeking representation and sending out hundred upon hundreds of query letters.

Q: Any parting comments, thoughts, or words of advice for screenwriters considering entering a competition?

A: Don't give up. Or do. If you can picture yourself doing anything other than working in Hollywood, go do that. If not, get writing and never stop.


(A Novel About Making It In Hollywood.)

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