February 10, 2007

Got a Michigan-centric Screenplay? The Waterfront Film Festival Wants You

It seems like there is a new film festival popping out of the woodwork on nearly a daily basis. Perhaps not new, but the word is getting out about these treasure troves of local films and independents, special guests, panels, and everything a film aficionado could want. Some of these festivals go beyond the showing and talking and have competitions for those aspiring filmmakers. The Waterfront Film Festival in Saugutick, Michigan has a screenplay competition. Prior to this year, the competition had a geographic restriction for entry. This year they are rescinding that requirement, meaning that wherever you happen to live, if you have an appropriate screenplay, you can enter.

I have to say that this is very cool. I have never tried my hand at a screenplay, although I have had some ideas. Wait, I take that back. There were a couple of college classes that had me writing short scripts. What I turned in could hardly be qualified as such. Frankly, my attempted screenplays were just flat out awful. My ability to write dialogue was severly lacking, not to mention any sort of pacing. Anyway, this isn't about me.

The Waterfront Film Festival is entering its ninth year. In addition to the promotion of indipendent films, and being a popular Midwest festival location, they feature Midwest premieres of Academy Award-winning and -nominated documentaries. The festival showings may not be a competition, but they do have the screenplay competition, which has been growing in popularity. "The popularity of the screenplay contest continues to grow, and expanding its reach was a natural, evolutionary step," said Kori Eldean, co-founder of WFF. "With the new Michigan Motion Picture Incentives, which were signed into law this year, the state has demonstrated that it is ready and willing to welcome the film industry."

The competition is not only sponsored by the festival, it is supported in part by the Writers Guild of America and SAG INDIE. It looks to me like a fantastic opportunity to get your screenplay read, and potentially produced. If I was a writer, I would jump at the opportunity to get my name out there.

Being a Michigan based competition, there are some restrictions:
• Full-length scripts for original feature films.
• The original work of the author and not previously purchased or produced
• At least 80 and no more than 130 pages in length, typed and submitted in English.
• Able to be filmed for less than $5 million.
• Able to be filmed in Michigan.

So, if you have a work that fits the criteria, or could be molded into the criteria, you have until April 16, 2007 to submit your screenplay for consideration. There is an entry fee of $40 per submission. For complete guidelines and an entry form, visit www.waterfrontfilm.org. The festival will run from June 7-10.

It gets even better, if you are the lucky winner, you will receive accommodations and an all-access badge for the 2007 Waterfront Film Festival. WFF will also arrange for a reception by the WGA, a meeting with a literary manager or agent and a script consultation with a professional screenwriter, among other gifts and recognition. Not to mention the opportunity to work with the Waterfront Film Collective, which is the production arm of the film festival, to develop and have his or her film produced. If the film is chosen for production, WFF guarantees a world premiere at an upcoming festival.

What are you waiting for? Fire up your number 2 pencils, pen, wordprocessor, typewriter, or your favorite writing implement and get going, time is running out. Also, if you do make a submission, let me know, I'd love to hear about it and your experience.


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