UPDATE (8/19/14): The Submission period is now CLOSED. Will be updating with some thoughts soon, as just saying “Thank You” doesn’t even begin to cut it. But in all humbled sincerity: from the bottom of my heart, thank you for ALL of your Submissions.
UPDATE (8/6/14): Was pointed to this thread on The Black List forums a couple of days ago: http://theblackboard.blcklst.com/forums/topic/is-anyone-entering-geoff-latulippes-6-week-screenwriting-challenge/
Therein a question was raised about something that I now realize I never addressed before, and it’s a notion I absolutely SHOULD have addressed at the outset. So please note this, as – between this Black Board conversation and a couple of emails I’ve received – it appears to be very important to some of you.
I would never use the word “mentor” when it comes to this project – that not only seems too formal, but I don’t think I’m experienced enough or accomplished enough or good enough yet to “mentor” anyone. That in mind, YES, I will ABSOLUTELY be a resource to the Selected Ten for the entire six weeks. Again, I won’t be reading your actual pages, but I’ll be available to you as much as possible to answer questions, talk through story/character issues, offer advice in any form so long as I feel qualified to do so, etc. It’s my fault for making it seem like this this was *just* a writing/reacting challenge. In fact, one of the main reasons I wanted to do this in the first place was to HELP you to write a script in six weeks. And if I’m just posting your weekly blurbs to my website, that doesn’t really cut it.
So yes, I am to be a resource to you for the duration. And even if you’re NOT one of the Selected Ten, you can still, as always, email me. I will do my damndest to be a resource to you as well.
One last thing: someone asked why I went with “The Selected Ten”. Honestly? It just sounded like something badass that might have cropped up on LOST. There’s nothing deeper behind it. I’m just a shallow guy who likes dime store profundity.
UPDATE (8/1/14): You now all have, officially, 18 days left to get your Submissions in.
In general, you guys are doing very, very well following the rules. A couple of you are going to want to reread the Submission Guidelines and try again, however. I’ve deleted precious many entries so far. Don’t be a Precious Many. Be a Selected Ten.
We’re at 200+ Submissions now, which is more than I could have ever hoped for in TOTAL, much less in the first 13 days this shit was live. I can’t thank you guys enough for jumping in headfirst. This is really, really, really fucking cool. But on that note, I do want to say something. It’s more philosophical in nature, but I think it’s important to address. And I want you guys to think about this carefully.
I’ve infrequently been truly impressed so far.
Don’t get me wrong – there have been some EXCELLENT entries. There have been some entries that are DEFINITELY making the experiment. Of this there is no question. There have been some entries that I’ve been very moved by, a few that have made me really laugh (though, sadly, only a couple of those as well), and a few that have stuck with me. And I shouldn’t have to say this, but lest I get accused of being conceited (not that this doesn’t happen often anyway or that it bothers me in the slightest when it does), please note: I’m not the end-all, be-all arbiter of Good Writing. I am well aware of this. But I read a lot. A LOT. And I know what Great Writing is to a large degree, and I’m an expert of what Great Writing Is In My Opinion. With all that in mind, I’m seeing too much of something, and if you haven’t submitted yet, I want the following to be a metaphorical grappling hook that sinks into the back of your mind with a wet SHUNK and sticks there:
A lot of you are writing not want you want to say, but what you think I want to hear – and worse, HOW you think I want to hear it. Inauthenticity has been, unfortunately, prevalent. It’s not something you can hide unless you’re just…on another level. Too many big words, over-flowery exposition, crutch-propped profanity, glurge-level sob stories*. I don’t care about that shit, especially if you can’t pull it off. And despite what you might have thought, this isn’t an ego-stroke for me. This is work, and I’m working to TRY TO HELP YOU. And you know what helps you? What YOU want to say. How YOU want to say it. My God, trust me: I can tell the difference.
Some people can’t help but be authentic and honest; this is coming through in surround sound in their Submissions. And they are CRUSHING the other entries. And yeah, that’s what I expected – most writing just isn’t great writing. It’s mediocre and forgettable. But that only matters in a macro sense; it shouldn’t matter to you in the moment. There are good entries that are not going to make the cut here, no doubt. But the pile of Immediately Dismissed Submissions is running about 80-85% of the whole.
So why am I even bringing this up? Because a few of you have held back, and it’s very frustrating. There are some mediocre Submissions that could have warranted serious consideration if the writer had just let go, if he or she had worried more about what THEY wanted to communicate more than what they thought would get them “in”. And there have been some strong submissions that could have totally blown me away…but didn’t quite. And the funny/aggravating thing about that is what I’ve been saying: what’s going to work for you here is NOT caring about what you *think* I want to see. I want to see you in your purest and most interesting form. That’s it. So fucking haul back and let fly right from the core of you, OK? If you can do that without the melodrama and cheap theatrics I’ve seen in some pieces so far…well, no matter what happens, you’re going to be in a much better place as a writer. Bare minimum.
If you haven’t submitted yet, you have your work cut out for you, no doubt. But so did the people that submitted in the first few days. Nothing’s changed in that regard. Get cracking and I’ll see you at the finish line.
* – It bears mentioning that there have been some exceptionally compelling, heartbreaking and oddly lovely tales of woe submitted so far. Dark is not bad, and telling me about your challenges will not hurt you. But seriously: know the difference between owning your pain and a trying to manipulate me with it. Because I sure as fuck do.
UPDATE (7/21/14): Someone actually emailed to ask me, “What’s with all the rules?” Don’t worry about it. Maybe I’ll explain the rules later. Maybe I won’t. This is my thing and there are rules. Maybe there’s a reason. Maybe I’m just fucking with you. Who knows. Do I even know? Who knows? Worry about your script. That’s the point here. Luckily, like 90% of you are following said rules. The ones who are not are actually making this a bit easier on me because I can just delete the entries, which leaves me feeling less overwhelmed by the crazy – and yet humbling and majestic – response so far. Bottom line: you guys are awesome, and I’m glad this has motivated ANY of you even a little bit. That, in turn, motivates me. A couple of other things:
1. Let’s not refer to this as a “contest”. I think that cheapens the whole spirit of the thing in some way. Let’s just call it an experiment. Or better yet, a challenge. That feels a little more…honest to me. Also, if you’re on Twitter, Twitter at me about it with the simple hashtag #SixWeekSpec. If you have questions or concerns or just want to talk about your script boner, I’ll be around.
2. If one more of you calls me “Mr. LaTulippe” I will revolt and it will not be pretty. “Geoff” works just fine, as that’s my name. I will tell you why this bothers me: we’re all writers here. I’m not a professor or some figure of authority. I’m just here to help 🙂
Also it just makes me feel old. I’m old enough. Please don’t pile on.
3. I cannot enough thank Scott at Go Into the Story for pimping us out. As he mentions in his post, he’s done something similar to this in the past, and with terrific result. I hope to carry a similar torch even within the same hemisphere as he did with The Quest.
4. Those of you that have not submitted yet: you have your work cut out for you. There have been some great entries and a couple that it would surprise me to not find “in” at the end of the day. Take your game and make it go up steps.
UPDATE (7/18/14): A couple people have emailed to ask if, were they not to be picked, they should still write along with the 11 of us here. Um, FUCK yes? That’s the whole point of this! I’m really only picking ten writers to highlight because I feel like that’s the max I can coordinate and still be somewhat helpful to them in the end. But this little experiment is for EVERYONE. And yes, I definitely want emails and Twitters and whatnot letting me know how you’re progressing. If you end your own process by uploading your script to the Black List, I’ll even pimp it out for you. Perhaps I was a little unclear in just focusing on the Selected Ten in my initial post, so let me be *very* clear now: if you want to be a screenwriter, I want you writing this September. No excuses.
UPDATE (7/18/14): In come the submissions! Really excited to see this! However, I must say, you guys lack reading comprehension: I’ve had to delete several entries already just because a handful of you didn’t pay attention to detail to the point where you didn’t even get past the subject line of the email. Tsk, tsk, tsky tsky-tsk tsk tsk. Re-read the rules and resubmit. I’ve emailed to remind a few of you but based on the volume of submissions I’ve seen already there’s zero chance I bother with that for very long. Give yourself a shot, damnit.
UPDATE (7/18/14): Holy shit, they’ve already started rolling in. Damn, you guys. Anyway, I probably should have said this before, even though it’s obvious, but: somewhere on your submission, make sure you’ve left your full name and email address. Muchas!
UPDATE (7/17/14): Yes, writing teams are definitely allowed. Sorry if there was any confusion about that.
HERE ARE ALL THE GORY DETAILS:
Starting 1 September 2014 – professional duties allowing, which I’ll qualify in a moment – I’m going to begin writing the first draft of a brand new spec screenplay. I’m giving myself six weeks to complete it. I want you to come along with me on the journey. But not just in the passive way that you might be thinking. Here’s the deal:
I want you to start a your own brand new spec too. The one you’ve always wanted to dive into but never did. The one that’s kept you up nights tossing around scenes and dialogue but that you never had the drive to actually crack. The one that itches and burns and crackles, but life has kept you away from. Actually, in that last instance you might have some bacterial issue rather than a creative one. Maybe check with a doctor and get yourself a Z-Pak. If ANY of those are the case, and you have your first masterwork banging around inside you like Dennis Quaid (INNERSPACE reference!), the last quarter of this year is going to be the absolute best time to kick your own ass into gear. And you know why?
Because Franklin Leonard and the impossibly awesome people at The Black List have been kind enough to offer something at the end of this rainbow that you cannot afford to pass up. If you have the balls to find out whether or not you have any shot whatsoever as a screenwriter, that is.
It’s going to work like this:
1. On 18 July 2014, the email address you can find on the main page of this blog will be open for submissions. You will have ONE MONTH (that is, until 18 August 2014, for those of you who are idiots) to send me a one-page declaration of why you want to write the FEATURE-LENGTH (MINIMUM: 90 pages) script you are going to write. Your only job is to convince me as that you’re capable of great writing and that you’re going to finish this fucking thing in six weeks. That’s it.
2. I will pick ten of these submissions.
3. The Selected Ten will be announced on 20 August 2014.
4. The Selected Ten will start their scripts on 1 September 2014.
5. Once per week, the Selected Ten will submit a reaction to the last seven days of writing – their successes, their failures, their frustrations, their unfettered rejection of any higher power(s). These reactions will be shared on my blog, along with my own.
6. On 15 October 2014, the scripts must be finished, no questions asked, no exceptions whatsoever. You must literally write FADE OUT and be done with it. And when I say you must “literally” write FADE OUT, I’m not misusing the word “literally”. Those two words literally have to appear at the end of your script.
If all of these steps are completed according to the rules of this little game (which I will lay out in full below) then each of the Selected Ten will be given TWO months of script hosting on and FOUR evaluations from The Black List – free of charge, courtesy of the wonderful people at said Black List. Because you’ll have earned it. This means that, by 15 December 2014 at the latest, you will have not only completed the first draft of a screenplay but you will have been provided with four industry-level evaluations of your work at the cost of $0 to you. So if you play your cards right, you could have a nicely-polished second draft of your script to foist upon the world in any way you see fit by New Year’s Day 2015. Are you excited? I’m excited.
It is of UTMOST importance that you read ALL of the following if you’re up to the challenge of a submission:
FIRST AND FOREMOST
This is an opportunity for NEW writers. That is to say: if you have ever previously been employed as a screenwriter, you are not eligible. For a studio, for a production company, for a producer, in film, in television, with a coat, in a boat, whatever. If you’ve been paid to write a screenplay, you’re out. And I will be verifying this independently.
1. All submissions must be in the form of a Microsoft Word document, 12 point font size, whichever font you like best. There will be no exceptions. Don’t have Word? Find someone who does. Can’t be that difficult.
2. All submissions must be limited to one page. No exceptions. If your submission is even one single character over a page, it will be deleted unread. This page should include both your full name and email address.
3. All submissions must be sent to the provided email address with the subject line “Why I’m Going to Write This Script Now”. Exactly like that, quotations and capitalization included. No exceptions. If your subject line does not read exactly as such, your email will be deleted unread.
4. Your submission will not contain ANYTHING related to the content of the script you are going to write outside of its chosen genre. I don’t want to know anything else. I do not care. I only care WHY you want to write it. If your submission contains any of the following, it will be deleted immediately and dismissed: the script’s title, logline, or any other identifying information whatsoever; discussion of any characters or locations; examples of any dialogue or voiceover; anything pertaining to details of the script that are not the script’s genre. To make it perfectly clear: YOU ARE NOT SUBMITTING AN IDEA FOR A SCRIPT TO ME. You are submitting an explanation of why you want to write it. Is that limiting? Absolutely. Be creative. That’s the point. To that effect, anything that I think violates this accord will be cause for immediate deletion and dismissal of your submission.
5. The cut-off for submissions is Midnight 18 August 2014 Pacific. No exceptions. Anything received even a second later will be deleted unread.
6. The Selected Ten will be determined by me and only by me and announced on 20 August 2014. No explanations will be given. No exceptions. If you don’t hear from me, you aren’t one of the Selected Ten. No I will not tell you why. It will just have to be left an unanswered question that will haunt you the rest of your life.
1. The Selected Ten may officially start their FEATURE LENGTH (MIN: 90 pages) scripts on 1 September 2014. This date shall be observed on the Honor System. I’m not your fucking mother. I will trust you to be honorable. Any time prior to this date shall be used for any necessary prewriting or for general pissing around.
2. The script ABSOLUTELY CANNOT have been previously completed. It is encouraged that you start a completely new script. It is DISCOURAGED that you throw out and start over on a previously uncompleted script; however, it will be allowed, begrudgingly. These rules shall be observed on the Honor System. However, it should be noted: if a script is uploaded to the Black List that has previously, IN ANY FORM, been uploaded to the site, that writer shall have their script deleted from the site and their allowances therein canceled. Also, I will shame the motherfucking shit out of you on Twitter. Relentlessly and with purposeful malice. This is to be a fun and communal experience. Don’t be a dick. You MAY adapt your own previously completed short script into a feature-length script. YOU MAY NOT adapt any pre-existing material that you do not personally own or have the rights to. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say that but some of you are perpetually stupid.
3. Each of the Selected Ten will submit to me, every Sunday, a two-paragraph summary of their week. As few story details of the script should be mentioned as possible; these updates are to give other writers a look into your process, not to describe your story. Paragraphs need not be submitted in Word, just over email. I’m not a MONSTER.
4. The finished first draft of your script – FADE OUT BEING THE LAST THING TO APPEAR ON THE LAST PAGE, SIGNALING COMPLETION – shall be uploaded to The Black List ABSOLUTELY NO LATER THAN 11:59PM Pacific Time on 15 October 2014. No exceptions. That means that if you upload your script at exactly Midnight 16 October 2015 Pacific Time, you are fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked and all this will have been basically for naught. Them’s the rules. This really shouldn’t be a problem. If you complete your script early and upload it BEFORE the 15 October deadline, good for you! However, your two months/four evaluations package will start on YOUR DATE OF SUBMISSION, not 15 October.
That’s it. That’s the whole kit and caboodle for you. A couple more things for me:
1. At no time ever – be it before, during or after the dates laid out in previous sections – will I ever be reading, analyzing or commenting on individual scripts. That is not my job here, nor is it my intent. So don’t ask. If you do ask, I will fire rockets at someone you love.
2. There is a chance that unforeseen professional writing obligations may cause me to be unable to complete and/or even start my own spec script simultaneously to the Selected Ten. However, should such a situation occur, at no point will anything be altered negatively for the Selected Ten. You will write your weekly reactions and finish your scripts by the said dates and be provided your Black List entitlements.
3. I reserve the right to extended deadlines and make changes to rules at any point as I see fit. In that way, I’m sort of like God.
And that’s about it. I good you bid luck. Now go ready those submissions!!!!