SCREENWRITING COMPETITIONS: A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE (JOHN WASHCO)


SCREENWRITER: John Washco (45 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio)


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

A. Spring of 2011, while recovering from hip replacement surgery.

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

A: Four

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

A: 8th Annual StoryPros International Screenplay Contest.

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

A: Three.  

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: They offered feedback, but we opted not to pay for it. We had been getting regular feedback on each of our drafts and didn’t feel that we needed to spend the money for additional feedback. Wish now that we had just to get another opinion of it.

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

A: Yes, all the contests we entered promoted that service

Q: Did you take advantage of any of these services? Was this a negative or positive experience?

A: No, we never considered it since we were extremely happy with our current [consulting] service and weren’t about to change.

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

A: We placed as a quarter-finalist, but it had no impact on our career other than some strong positive reinforcement that our writing was improving.

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

A: Nothing.

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

A: For us, being named as a quarter-finalist was a big deal...acknowledgement that we were improving. Although, when the list of semifinalists came out and we didn’t advance we were disappointed but not devastated and continued rewriting.

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

A: For us, knowing that after a few years of hard work we were finally starting to improve the quality of our writing. It gave us more incentive to continue writing and work even harder at it.

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

A: Initially, the feeling of disappointment for not placing. Fortunately for us that feeling was very short-lived and we got right back to work on rewriting.

Q: What is your current status as a screenwriter? 

A: Currently we are changing gears and adapting one of our features to a one-hour TV series, and working very hard at learning the difference in the formats.

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

A: If you can afford to enter them and pay for feedback, do it. If you can’t then be selective and make sure your work is as good as you can make it. Enter the larger or higher rated competitions and cross your fingers.

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