Monday, December 27, 2010

Potential Oscar Nomination for Champion Winner


Dear Jim

Just wanted to let you know that, to my surprise and delight, the finished film of "Shoe" (which won second prize in your last Champion Screenwriting Competition) has been shortlisted for an Oscar in the Live Action Shorts Category.  (We find out on January 25th if we make the final nominees - fingers crossed.)

Your early recognition of the script was a big step for me in getting the film made, so I just wanted to express my appreciation once more.

Very best

Nick Kelly
Writer / Director


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winners for 2010 Champion Competition

Champion is proud to announce the feature script winners of the 2010 Champion Screenwriting Competition.  Half of the top 20 are in Los Angeles this weekend, but I will add more and send announcement out next week.


Civil War by Geoffrey Elsner and Carson Griffis


Bank Robbing for Dummies by Robert Keith Watson - $1,000


Death in Venice Beach by Nicholas Horwood

(We are hoping producer will give them writing deal for low budget script or rewrite)

Controlled by Craig Cambria
Dead Last by Kevin Lee Miller
Death in Venice Beach by Nicholas Horwood
Little Eden by Timothy Jay Smith

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Jim Mercurio

After my class two Wednesdays ago, I braved rush hour traffic to see my lifelong friend Sean Kanan perform comedy at the Irvine Improv. He and I did standup comedy when we were 15 and lived in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. We would steal his parent's car and drive to Niles, Ohio to Tickles Comedy Club and watch the old school touring comedians like Glenn Hirsch (Gleeb Hush), Shirley Hemphill, and Steve Mittleman. Then after watching six back-to-back shows, we would do our 10 minutes on Monday, open-mic night. One of the amateurs at the time, Dan O'Shannon, who later went on to exec produce Cheers, sold me a series of fat jokes for $10, a highlight being: I don't understand why I'm overweight, I try to eat a small amount of food from each of the 53 basic food groups. (Dan, if you're out there, will you take a look at my Night Court spec?).

Back to the Improv. Before the show, I asked Sean if he wanted to come and cold-read some scenes from my class to help the writers. Before I could even neurotically list all of the reasons he might not want to do it, he said yes.

Sean showed up 30 minutes early and agreed to talk about the business side of things. Sean has produced several films (he wrote one of them) whose cumulative budgets exceed $3 million, he has been a regular on The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital. He discussed how competitive things are for an actor and although he doesn't play any head games in the waiting room, he says when it's his turn to audition, he is there for blood, to kill to get the part. His honesty was refreshing.

Here is a reminder that you can learn more about a person by showing than telling: Sean earned his breakout role as Ralph Macchio's nemesis in Karate Kid III from a 2,000-person open cattle call. The year before the movie was even produced, Sean and I -- juniors in college who were home for the summer -- were sitting on the stoop of the local Pennzmart (gas station) sipping our Big Gulp equivalents of diet coke. Sean stood up and announced that he had read there would be a sequel to Karate Kid II, and that (in a huge nod to positive thinking and diligence) he was going to get the part as the kid who fights the KK. I may have left out the fact that I was double-fisting spinach and pepperoni strombolis, but not a word of this paragraph is hyperbole.

Sean and the other actress, Giovanna Maimone, read the scenes aloud and brought the students' scenes to life. This was one of the favorite parts of the class for the writers. A lot of my teaching forces students to see screenwriting from the perspective of the other filmmaking artisans - directors, actors, designers, etc. - to gain insight into telling a more nuanced and cinematic screenplay.

Sean read the climactic scene from one of the writers' heavy dramas. He playfully chastised the writer and us for throwing him a cold-read curveball and said that he would have liked more time to prepare. We thought he and Giovanna were amazing in the scene and the writer was reassured that the scene was working. Sean showed up to read scenes with no preparation. And that's why it was such a giving and graceful gesture. His willingness to be not perfect in support of the writers' growth was why his favor was such a gift.

The Weekend Class (l to r): John, Bob (repeat top 20, woo hoo!), Sean, me, Sharon, Tony, Magali, Giovanna (front)

Sean and several other actors, including, hopefully, Kurtwood Smith, will be joining us this year.  There are still seats available for the 11/30-12/3 and 12/8-12/10 classes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The 2010 Champion Screenwriting Competition is proud to announce the winners of the Shorts categories.


The Device and the Operator by Cassandra Holroyd


A Simple Plea by Dean Watts

BEST SHORT SHORT (Less than three pages)

Aurora by Kristi L. Simkins

These winners receive $500 each and are invited to one of the Champion Labs.  The other Top Ten shorts writers are welcome to attend the 11/30-12/3 or 12/8-12/10 sesssion at a 60% discount.  Please email info@champ(xxx) to sign up.  Replace xxx with "ions."

Congratulations to Kristi, Dean and Cassandra!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Without further ado, from nearly 1000 features, here are the top top 20 features in the 2010 Champion Screenwriting Competition.


Anatomy of a Town by Patricia Fox
Bank Robbing for Dummies by Robert Watson
Civil War by Geoffrey Elsner and Carson Griffis
Closure by Darren Swanson
Controlled by Craig Cambria
Damascus Road by Patrick Homes
Dead Last by Kevin Lee Miller
Death in Venice Beach by Nicholas Horwood
Genius by Jim Kenney
Horror Comic by Stephen Hoover
Little Eden by Timothy Jay Smith
Monster Job Hunter by Yehudi Mercado
Nuclear One by Michael Toay & Travis Mann
Out of Range by Elizabeth Medes
Purple Haze by Jeff Fry
Spotnik by Celeste Chan Wolfe
Stealing Canada by Tyler Smith
Take My Advice by Alicia Lomas-Gross
The Queen is in the Parlour by Marc Goldsmith & Laurence Holzman
Zombies and Other Middle School Issues by Ted Strickland

All of these writers receive a spot in one of the week-long Champion Labs, a year-long membership to, 10 pitches from, a 15-minute recorded audio version of a screenplay excerpt from iScript, two career coaching sessions with Rhona Berens, Ph.D and a few other exclusive offers which I will announce soon.

Details about the class and other offers will go out soon and a mass email to everyone who entered will go out tomorrow via Constant Contact.  Sign up for updates at if you are not sure if you are on the list.

Shorts winners will be announced tomorrow!

The winners of the feature category will be announced in Los Angeles on Dec 3 at our informal awards dinner...Hollywood, Thai food, $10,000...someone's going to be Kung-Pao'd.

Thanks to everyone who entered and congratulations to the writers who advanced.

Jim Mercurio

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Top Ten Shorts for 2010 Champion Screenwriting Competition

We received more than 200 shorts and we are excited to announce the top ten scripts.  We will announce the winners of the Best Drama, Best Comedy and Best Short Short in less than 48 hours.  Each of the winners receive $500 and some assorted other goodies.  We will send out a mass email when we announce the top 20 features, which should happen within the next 36 hours.

Thanks to everyone who entered and congratulations to these writers.  Every one of these scripts is awesome.


A Simple Plea by Dean Watts

Aurora by Kristi L. Simkins

Broken Bulbs by Miyako Akina Fuqua

Cakewalk by Brian Baker

Dead in the Room by Marjory Kaptanoglu

Douchebag by Luke Spears

Skywhale by Carl Huebner

The Checker Game by Steve Warren

The Device and the Operator by Cassandra Holroyd

The Job by Steven Davis

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We will announce the top eight or ten shorts in a day or two.  Am hoping to get top 20 Feature list out within a week, so everyone will have at least three weeks to get to Los Angeles.  The first class begins Nov 30. Check out the previous blogs for info about classes.

Sign up now to guarantee yourself a spot!


Thursday, October 7, 2010


Exclusively for Champion Entrants

Champion Screenwriting now offers its entrants a chance to use its readers for five to six pages of development notes.  Several entrants were so happy with our coverage category that they asked if we would make our readers available for additional feedback.  So we did.  Now you can get detailed notes on your script from one of our awesome readers.

If you entered the Coverage Category, you can receive additional notes from your original reader for a discounted price of $250.

Entrants who did not use the coverage service or who did and would like feedback from a different reader pay $300.

Simply send a PDF of your screenplay and Paypal payment to  Fill in the blanks with "nscr"... Trying to avoid spam.

The readers are not involved in the final judging process of the competition and remain anonymous.
I (Jim Mercurio) do not read the scripts as part of this service.
I do offer in-depth and recurring feedback as a story analyst myself but the Champion Coverage Service is a great value and can help many more writers than I can personally serve. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Everyone is emailing me about the classes, so here is some more information.

Based on last year's attendance, I should have 3-4 seats in each of the two Champion Labs and I currently have 5-6 in the Immersion class. 
  • Champion Lab - Four-Day - November 30 - December 3 (Tuesday - Friday)
  • Friday night is Awards Dinner
  • Champion Lab - Three-Day - December 4-6 (Saturday - Monday)
  • A-List Immersion - Three-Day - December 8-10 (Wednesday - Friday)
All classes are in Hollywood within walking distance of the subway.

Sean Kanan and Kurtwood Smith are confirmed for at least one of the classes to help us workshop scenes.  Having professional actors read your scenes is a great learning experience.  We will workshop scenes from every writer.


The top 20 FEATURE writers will win a seat in the class and can choose any of the classes.  If they sign up now to reserve a seat and then win the seat, their money will be refunded.  Entrants and quarterfinalists receive a discount.


Anyone in the world can sign up for the Immersion Class now. 

Only Quarterfinalists in the shorts and feature category may sign up for one of the Champion Labs now.  Will sell three seats in each of the Champion Labs.

Am willing to open another Champion Lab on December 13-15 (Monday - Wednesday) if there are enough people interested.  Email me if interested in this class.  Will update here if this section opens.

If seats are available in a month, I will offer them to the general public.


The regular price for each of the classes is $399. Price for entrants in the 2010 Champion Competition is $299.  Price for feature or shorts quarterfinalists is $199.


Yes.  Until I update the shopping cart at, writers may Paypal payment to (insert the word screenwriting in there).  Put relevant information: name, email address, which section and name of script in contest or QF list.

I hope to see you in December.  In 2011, I am going into hibernation to finish my book, so this is last chance to take a class with me for awhile.

Jim Mercurio

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 Champion Screenwriting Competition Quarterfinalists

The 2010 Champion Screenwriting Competition wants to thank all of its entrants.  We received more than 1100 shorts and features and are proud to announce our Quarterfinalists, who represent approximately the top 20% of submissions as determined by our first-round readers.

Congratulations to the writers who advanced.  We will announce the top 20 features near the end of the month, so the writers may have time to plan their trip to a Champion Lab in December.

All Quarterfinalists will be given a chance to purchase the remaining seats in the December classes for less than half of the regular price.  There are a few seats left in the current classes and we will add an additional session if necessary.  For more information on how to sign up, check back here in a day or two or see the next newsletter. To reserve a seat now, email me (Jim).

The Grand Prize winner receives $10,000 cash plus development notes, a professionally recorded audio version of their entire script from iScript, a John Truby Genre DVD, and a gift certificate to the Writer’s Store.

Top 20 feature writers will each receive $1000 in prizes including a seat in one of the Champion Labs, 10 pitches from, a 15-minute recorded audio version of an excerpt of their screenplay from iScript, two career coaching sessions with Rhona Berens‚ Ph.D., and a year-long membership to

Visit here or sign up for our free monthly newsletter to find out who advances.

Here are our Quarterfinalists who are vying for more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.


A Girl and Her Dog by Dawn Ireland
A Rose For the Dead by L.J. Wright
Alibi by Jamie Buhr
Al's Last Con by Steve Hochman
Altar Boys by Samuel Contreras
Amsterdam XXX by Joseph Wiggins
Anatomy of a Town by Patricia Fox
Art of the Duel by Leonard Chan
Ask Me by Jonathan Eig
At Close Quarters by Curtis Nelson
Avenging Peace by Tom Stein
Bad Penguin by Phil Clarke Jr.
Baghdad Rules by Brent Spencer
Ballpark Frank by Mark Cohen
Bank Robbing for Dummies by Robert Watson
Be Good To Do Evil by Julia Kubik
Black Betty by John Alberts
Blood Red Dawn by Michael Thornton Jr.
Bramble Hill by Dominick Bagnato
Butterfly by Jill Wallace
Caller 7 by Daniel Stawanski
Canaries by Craig Cambria
Cargo by Mark Schoelkopf
Catch Us The Foxes by Tina Juarez
Catfish Creek by Deana Costner
Chances by Jeff Trently
Civil War by Geoff Eisner
Closure by Darren Swanson
Cold Barrel Zero by Ronald Ecker
Controlled by Craig Cambria
Cooties by Clint Clark
Crawfish and Specks by Robert M. Herzog
Cult Flick by Brian Hauser
Culture Shock by Jodi Levitan
Cutter's Woods by Donald O'Donovan
Damascus Road by Patrick Homes
Dangerous Cargo by WJM Fordsyce
Dark Legacy by Brian Campbell
Day Job by Ed Domingues
Dead Crows by Chris Todd
Dead Last by Kevin Lee Miller
Dead Man's Party by Michael Raymond
Dead Play by Terry Raun
Deadfest by Michelle Muldoon
Deadly Legacy by Russell Blyth
Death at Sea by Marjory Kaptanoglu
Death in Venice Beach by Nicholas Horwood
Defenders of the Faith by Brandon Marlon
Diamond Dead by Andrew Gaty
Dirty Crooked City by Luke Spears
Dreamland Confidential by Sean Agard
Edgewater by Max Freeman
Elephant Hearts by Josh Good
Eyes of the Enemy by Steve Hochman
False Sense by Craig Cambria
Fifty Years in May by Silvio Nacucchi
Fishing with Dynamite by Randy Sumeraj
Fool Moon by Gail Jenner
Frankie and The World's Fair Pear by Debbie Klaar
Freezer Born: The Adventures of Carl the Ice Cream Sandwich by Erin McLaughlin
From Point A to Point B by Elise Stempky
Fruit of the Tree by Fran Kaplan
Gallo by Richard Gold
Garbo Returns! by Kristof Bathory
Genius by Jim Kenney
Glow Stick by Michael Raymond
Golden Gloves by Drew Miyaki
Golden Years by Byron Wolter
Grey by Tony LaScala
Ground Work by Patrick C. Taylor
Growing Ivy by Karen Powell-Riggs
Halfway Down the Stairs by Jesse P. Howard
Handicapped Spaces by Clinton Braly
Hitchcock Blonde by Jeff York
Hoax by Scott Park and Matt Allen
Horror Comic by Stephen Hoover
How Not to Get Married by Donna Miller
Hurricane Grove by Jeffrey Thelen
I love you to Debt by Philip Strauss
Ice Deep by William Milano
In Search of Betty Blue by Mass Panor
In the Ground by Jeffrey Greenberg
In the Wake by Matt Mowrer
Interloper by June Escalanate
Jason's Quest by Chris Early
Jubilee by Dusty Rhodes
Kheng Kheng Crocodile by Donna Lisa
Kiki on the Beach by Christine Hinz
Killer Expose by JaLynn Hardy
Kindness: Left by the Side of the Road by Sonia Pathak
King of Atlantic Avenue by Drew Greco
Kissin’ Kuzins by Deana Costner
Kissing Your Sister by Dan Loschack
La Gargouille by Samuel Clark
Latent Image by David Hartzhelm
Leap of Faith by Alicia Lomas-Gross
Legacy by Jodi Levitan
Leonard by Margaret Riseley
Life Between Cigarettes by Joseph Cirrincione
Little Eden by Timothy Jay Smith
Living The Dream by Daniel Cohen
Lizzie Fox by Mike Murphy
Lulu by Samuel Bernstein
Macau Twilight by Tony Shyu
Mask of the Innocent by Teresa Bruce
Masked Men by David Evans
Master's Key by Kelly Anelons
Miss Christmas by Irin Evers
Mister Smith by Sonia Pathak
MoBay Blues by Leonard Chang
Monster Job Hunter by Yehudi Mercado
Mother's Day by Kevin Lee Miller
My Turn by M. David Shapiro
Natural Selection by Kathryn Kyker
Nature of the Beast by Eric Sentell
Newsflash by Trevor Maxim
Night Falls by Adam Aresty
Nightmare Valley by Jason Briker
No Man is an Island by Brandon Vedder
Nobody in My Family Has Sex by Carol Farrand
Nuclear One by Michael Toay & Travis Mann
Olohana by Daniel Fan
On Becoming Grim by Clark Ransom
On Common Ground by Kara Sachs
On Small Stages by Andrew Cangelose
Out of Range by Elizabeth Medes
Pandora, Princess of Cats by Dennis Hiatt
Patriots' Day by David Boe
Plausible Alternative by Peter Rozee
Post Apocalyptica: The Musical by Daniel Santerre
Punch It Out by Stephen Leach
Purple Haze by Jeff Fry
Purple Rayne by Alina Stephanie
Quest! by Emily Paul
Reconstructing Kate by Rachel McNevin
Red Forest by Aaron Marshall
Reverend Piper by Dan Borengasster
Rosale Ecce Mens by Tanya Klein
Scattered Thorns by Gary Talarino
Searching for Sanctuary by Rozalyn Mattocks
Sentient by Peter Arneson
Shadowplays by John Alberts
Sibusio by Steven Mare
Skin by Gary Riester
Skirt by Chris Mason Johnson
Skylark by Nicholas Pyle
Soccer Crazy by Mark Speed
Soulmating by John Galbraith
Spotnik by Celeste Chan Wolfe
St. Patrick's Tear by Neil Chase
Stealing Canada by Tyler Smith
Sure Would Be Nice by Thomas Serio
Tabby by George Hernandez
Tabula Rasa by J. Scott Sperber
Tainted Harvest by Nancy Smith
Take My Advice by Alicia Lomas-Gross
Team Players by Raef Eric Laswon
The Agora by Billy Duberstein
The Bend in the Bridge by Julia Kubik
The Butcher and the Butterfly by Jim Antonini
The Charm of Youth by Timothy Miller
The Chemist by John Moskowitz
The Chilling Effect by Scott Featherstone
The Cloudburst by Raj Naiksatam
The Dead on Arrivals by Miyako Akina Fuqua
The Enemy in the Castle by Letty Hummel
The Fibonacci Spiral by Nicole Avenia
The Good Life by Robert Winogron
The Hitler Family Reunion by Andrew Rothschild
The Klondike Story by Steve Warren
The Land of MILF and Honey by Stephanie Ogozaly
The Last Praetorian by William Milano
The Last Three Days of Paradise by Casey McClatchey
The Lion in the Backyard by Susan Murphy
The Longest Way 'Round by Elizabeth Medes
The Lupii by Caroline Farrell
The McTavish by Cheryl Miller
The Other Oregon by Steve Anderson
The Plush Life by Bill Scollon
The Queen is in the Parlour by Laurence Holzman
The Quest by Genevieve Ermanna
The Shroud by Joseph Paul Ferina & Joseph Patton Mashburn Jr.
The Sky Below by David Thome
The Switch by Irin Evers
The Tetris Complex by Kevin Gilbert
The Truth by Gary Talarino
The Turnaround Guy by Bruce Kuglin
The Umpire Has No Balls by Debbie Bolsky
The Undertaker's Son by Chris Dancy
The Viking Factor by Erik Wolter
The Winter Wars by Anton H. Gill
The Witches Hammer by John Alberts
Torched by Jon Rosen
Tripytch by Wayne Keeley
Tyrant by Alistair Kaley
Unfinished Business by Richard Borinstein
Washington's One Night Stand by Daniel Bardwil
What Goes Around by Adam Butt
What Would Meg Ryan Do? by Mary Krell-Oishi
Which Witch is Which by KFM Marshall
World War G by Morgan Bramlet
Zombies and Other Middle School Issues by Ted Strikland


A Quickie at Work by James Nelson
A Simple Plea by Dean Watts
An Ice Cream for Billy by John Connell
Anna by Dennis Jones
Archives by Nathalie Sejean
Auntie by Mike Goforth
Aurora by Kristi L. Simkins
Awkward by Matthew Stevens
Breeding Slave by Lisa Scott
Broken Bulbs by Miyako Akina Fuqua
Cab Fare by Brenna Kelly
Cakewalk by Brian Baker
Child X by M. Miller Davis
Dead In The Room by Marjory Kaptanoglu
Dharma by Stuart Land
Douchebag by Luke Spears
Exit Interview by Edgar Martinez Schulz
Father Bernstein: A Fish out of Holy Water by Richard Roth
Heaven Is Hell by Scott & Paula Merrow
How We Do by Brianna Bennett
I Can See My House From Here by Vinay Patel
It's All In The Spin by Michael Duke
Jack's Dress by Jeff Wergin
Killer App by Chuck Anderson
Love In Binary Code by Eric Dietel
Much Ado About Something by Thea Camilla Eriksen
Simple Nude by Steven Maré
Skywhale by Carl Huebner
Spinning With The Devil by Caroline Farrell
Spiritual Connection by Scott & Paula Merrow
Starfish by William Byrne and Megan Hardy
Survivor X by Darren Montgomery
The Checker Game by Steve Warren
The Cowboy by M. Miller Davis
The Cube by Scott & Paula Merrow
The Device And The Operator by Cassandra Holroyd
The Final Guardian by Scott & Paula Merrow
The Hit by John Cruz
The Incumbent by Alexis Perkins
The Job by Steven Davis
X-Mas in Double-Wide by Robert Peters
Zed High by Charles Cho

Friday, October 1, 2010


The Quarterfinalist list should be up in a day or so.  Withoutabox doesn't allow us to extract two authors at one time, so we have to manually go through all 200 QFs to check for multiple authors.  Much fun. 

Will also be announcing the winner of the free seat in the Champion Lab for an entrant who entered four or more scripts.

Quarterfinalists will be able to sign up for a spot in the Champion Lab and we will open another section if necessary.  We are also going to be offering an expanded coverage service to our 2010 entrants where you can get  5-6 pages from one of our readers.

Sign up for the free newsletter Craft & Career, which will have the QFS listed, at  It will go out by Monday and have more information about all of this, also.  And remember, we make all of our notifications here and with Constant Contact, so even if you don't want the newsletter, sign up for contest updates.

More soon.

Jim Mercurio

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2010 Champion Competition Updates

Thanks to everyone who entered.  We received more than 1000 scripts this year and are busy reading.

Our tentative schedule is to have Quarterfinalists listed by the third week of September.  And then we should be able to have the top 20 Feature Writers by November 1, so that they may have a month's notice to make any of the December Champion Labs.

I will announce the winner of the free Champion Lab seat soon -- probably in the next newsletter which should come out soon.

The $14,000 in cash prizes will be handed out at our informal awards dinner on Friday night, December 3rd when hopefully everyone from the two Champion Labs (the one that ends Friday and the one that begins Saturday) will be there.

I will be offering the extra Champion Lab seats to Quarterfinalists at a reduced rate and will even open another section is there are enoug writers who want to attend.

Also, some of you have expressed interest in getting more detailed notes from the reader who gave you coverage.  We will officially offer that as a follow-up service next year but, for now, if interested, email us and we can arrange it.

Thanks again for entering.

Jim Mercurio

Thursday, August 12, 2010


For those of you with the Discount Pak via WAB, you can enter with no additional charge until the absolutely last chance to enter: August 12.

As of now, there are only seven people that I see who are eligible for the drawing for the free seat in the Champion Lab - John, David, Dennis, Nikky, Eric, Steve, Marce - for entering four or more features.  But there are almost 20 people with three scripts.  If you entered more than three scripts and you  aren't on the list, email us at

Or if you entered only three, remember that one more script gets you a free shot at a seat in the Lab.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August Ten - Midnight West Coast Time

Tonight is last chance to enter contest before WAB-Exclusive Extension kicks in.  The WAB extension is till August 20 but there are more fees.

Remember, enter four or more features to be entered into a random drawing for a seat in the Champion Lab.

Good Luck!


Sunday, May 30, 2010


The first two Champion Labs (with Jim Mercurio) are for the top 20 Champion feature writers.  On Friday night, December 3, we will have some sort of informal dinner, gathering or party where I will announce the winners and give out $12,000 or so in cash.  So plan to stay late or come early.  Writers who take the three-day version will watch of Killer Endings and T-Word Theme and read a few short assignments before the first class.

The Immersion class is free for the first four script consulting clients of who sign up for Coaching or Mentoring between now and then.  If current clients decline to take the class, it may be open to more writers.

The Scene Workshop is a stand-alone class that is open to all actors, writers and directors.  There will be four professional actors there and we will read two-three scenes (or more) from every participant.  The main focus will be on the writing but there will be some tangential topics on directing, acting and thinking like an actor and director.

Quarterfinalists in the Champion Competition will be offered a chance to purchase available seats in the Champion Lab and in the Immersion.  Top 20 Feature Writers will also be allowed to attend the Immersion class if their schedule doesn't permit them to attend the Champion Labs. And, as a last resort, Immersion writers may attend the Champion Lab if there is room and their schedule requires it.

Champion Lab - Four-Day
November 30 - December 3 (Tuesday - Friday)

Champion Lab - Three-Day 
December 4-6 (Saturday - Monday)

A-List Immersion - Three-Day
December 8-10 (Wednesday - Friday)

Scene Workshop with Professional Actors - Two-Day - Open to the Public
No theory - Just working on scenes
December 9-10 (Saturday - Sunday)
$199 for both days.  $129 for one day.
20% discount for professional actors who will read for at least an entire day.

Here are some testimonials for the classes.

Exploiting Concept
Character Orchestration
Character Arc
Killer Endings
Scene Writing
Shurtleff's Guideposts
Action Description
Prose Style
Essence of Climax
12 Steps to a Better Scene
Changing Spec Market

I haven't even begun to market them or placed them on sale.  If you want to hold a spot in the Scene Workshop, email me.  Otherwise, sign up for A-List Screenwriting's Craft & Career and check the box for Contest or Class updates.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free Killer Endings Offer and Resubmissions

If you entered the coverage category and did not get the email sent out today, then you can access it here.  It has the instructions on how to get your free Killer Endings DVD.  This is only for people who entered in the coverage category.

Also, you can resubmit any time before August 6 and not have to pay the crazy WAB-Exclusive-Extension Fees.  The last two weeks -- till the 20th -- are the WAB-Exclusive period where their fees are rough.  Remember to rename your project (add the word "resubmission") because the system doesn't allow the same exact title to be entered more than once.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Today is the last chance to sign up for the coverage service, which also gets you a free copy of my DVD Killer Endings.

The coverage service allows you to find out your status in the contest and allows you to resubmit later.  Also, if you enter today in any category, you save at least $5. 

If you are having technical problems, email us before midnight and we will make sure that WAB support allows you to enter early this week as if today.  We are not going to penalize you for technology nightmares.

Remember, there will be at least 20 seats given away to my weeklong Champion Lab, $10,000 to the Grand Prize Winner and $500 to best short short that is under three pages.


Friday, April 23, 2010

ScriptShadow Interview with Jim Mercurio

Here is a pretty extensive interview I did with ScriptShadow.  His blog is a great resource for aspiring writers, so I will give him the traffic and just link directly to the site:

We talk about contests, what contests are looking for and "what" new writers should and shouldn't write.  I don't like to go around prescribing what people should write but at least consider the perspective as food for thought.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Champion Screenwriting Competition's Co-coordinator Kathryn Cottam interviewed one of last year's entrants who sold his script because of the contest. The writer entered the contest under the pseudonym Solomon Grundy and now, as you will read, has even more reason to keep the project anonymous.


Well, for the time being the producer wants me to avoid saying too much about the script. He's considering some unconventional marketing approaches for the finished film, so until he sorts everything out he wants to keep the script "under wraps."

I can say pretty generally that the script is in the low budget horror genre.


I did a little graduate work in English Literature, then switched over to Law, so I guess my background is in Law. I'm a pretty new writer -- I've written a few other short scripts, but this is my first feature-length script.


I use a pen name because it's easier -- cleaner -- to keep my writing life separate from my work life, and just avoid any unpleasant complications at work. You can probably guess the kinds of complications I'm talking about. Will people at work find out that I'm writing? What will they think about it? Will my bosses resent me for it, or take it as a sign of laziness -- "if you have a life outside of work, then clearly you don't have enough work to do"?

Using a pen name also has benefits that I didn't anticipate. For one thing, it makes rejection a little easier. When I get a rejection letter ("Dear Solomon Grundy, your screenplay sucks, love, Film Festival"), I tend to shake off the disappointment a little more quickly because it's not directed at me personally; it's directed to that other guy. That Solomon Grundy guy. Yeah, it's a silly psychological trick -- but whatever, a benefit's a benefit.


I picked "Solomon Grundy" because I've always liked the nursery rhyme ("Solomon Grundy, Born on a Monday, etc."). I always thought it was kind of cool and creepy.


I entered the Champion Screenplay Competition because I was intrigued by the special prize for micro budget horror. My script is a low budget horror script, so I thought there might be a good match there.
I did enter some other horror contests too, and did pretty well in a couple of them. But doing well in a horror contest does not compare with the experience of actually optioning your script and joining a team of smart, creative people who are trying to turn that script into a great movie.


Very happy. Early on in the competition I sent an email to ask a technical question about the competition rules -- to my surprise, I received a very friendly response the next day. Now, I'm not going to name names or bash other script competitions, but let's just say that kind of responsiveness is rare -- I can only think of a handful of competitions that provide that kind of attentive service and The Champion Screenplay Competition is one of them, for sure.


The Champion Screenplay Competition has provided me with tons of amazing feedback on the script.

I have to say that Jim Mercurio has been incredibly generous with his time, and has made himself 100% accessible to discuss the script at any time and in any format -- email, telephone, whatever. Last week, he spent hours on the telephone with me discussing the script, everything from larger structural issues and "what if" scenarios right down to the tiniest details. It seems almost an insult to call it "feedback" -- basically, he gave me a free "master class" on how to make my script the best script it can be.


The Champion Screenplay Competition was instrumental in getting my script optioned. Instrumental.

Jim contacted me initially to let me know that there was a producer, who happened to be a contest judge, interested in the script. Then he helped to initiate the negotiating process and was with me every step of the way, guiding me through the process from beginning to end.

So, without the festival and without Jim's help, there is no way that my script would have been optioned.


I'm a lawyer, so of course I know how the negotiating process works generally -- but I'm not an entertainment lawyer and I've never negotiated an option agreement for a script before, so really I had no idea what to expect. But looking back on the whole negotiation process, I can honestly say that it was pretty painless. I think I was fortunate to be working with people I liked -- the producer was very reasonable and, as I've said, Jim made himself available to me every step of the way.

The whole negotiation process was very friendly, very civil and was wrapped up quickly, in a couple of weeks.


My strategy is pretty simple -- I am going to continue working diligently on my rewrites and make sure that I deliver (on time) a final polished script to the producer.

The Champion Screenplay Competition has given me every opportunity to succeed. I know very well that opportunities like this don't come around very often so I feel a responsibility to take full advantage here.


I've never been a huge fan of The Who, but there's this Pete Townshend quote I've always loved -- he said something like, "I smash guitars because I like them." That's kind of how I feel about my writing process.

Before starting a new script, I outline -- obsessively. I'll spend inordinate amounts of time crafting the outline, revising it, agonizing over every detail of it. But once I finish the outline and start writing the script, invariably I'll either ignore the outline completely or throw away large portions of it.

It seems like an incredibly inefficient way to write a script, writing an outline and then discarding it. But I think writing that outline is important for me procedurally because it helps me to absorb the universe of the script, to understand the people and the places and the "rules," so that once I begin to write I can do so with a lot more poise and confidence.

So, that's why I smash outlines. Because I like them.


Be budget conscious when you write.

If you want to get your script produced, then there are obvious practical advantages to writing something that anybody can pick up, read and then think, "You know what? I could make this movie." I mean, you can go ahead and write a script with lots of amazing stunts and huge explosions and eye-popping special effects, but just remember that there are only a handful of people out there with the power and resources to actually produce that kind of script.


Right now my only concern is polishing and finalizing my current script. After that? I'm not really sure. I've written two other scripts that I'd like to begin revising and readying for market, and there may be a couple other cool opportunities out there. I guess we'll see.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My designer created a tall banner ad to run at Withoutabox, so I figured I would show it off here.

"Pretty cool, huh?"

Also, I wanted to tell you about the advantages of entering the Champion Screenwriting Competition ASAP, i.e., by the Early Bird Deadline, March 26.

I have heard people give the advice that it's better to enter early because readers are less tired or rushed. I think this is nonsense. Readers are professionals and they choose how much they want to read.

However, from a purely math standpoint (check out my blog about the left-brained reasons to enter contests), the $5, $10 or $15 you save has a huge impact on your budget and your expected value from a contest.  Expected value?  Jim, is this a screenwriting blog or a stats class?  Okay, read the blog link if you want more.  But, remember, if you enter 20 contests this year and only enter during the periods with the lowest entry fee, you would save between $100 and $300.

If you are using our coverage service, entering early can allow you more time (several months) to rewrite and resubmit. It's no secret that reading scripts is a subjective process. So for your $40 coverage fee, you may or may not be given the holy grail of screenwriting insight. However, you will give yourself a better understanding of how your script can advance to the quarterfinalist round. And remember, based on last year's numbers 20% of quarterfinalists make the top 20 AND each of those writers receives about $1,000 in prizes. So, the coverage service is far more valuable than the notes themselves.

Another advantage to entering early is that I get to give my readers more work (spread out over the entire run of the contest). It's a good deal for me, because I keep my best readers happy. Is it a good deal for you? Not necessarily. But it's a good deal. It's a good deal for me. For me. Did I mention me?

Back to you.

Several of the years when I ran the Expo Competition, I would find extra last-minute prizes to add: Second place in shorts, a runner-up, travel per diem for an additional writer. And last year, I opened up the Champion Lab to more than 20 writers. We took a big risk this year jacking up the Grand Prize to 10k while other contests are lowering their cash outlay. As soon as I know I am not going to end up on the streets of Hollywood Boulevard (mmm, Kung Pao Kitty) because the prizes the contest promises, I start getting generous and increasing the prize pool. For instance, if we get 1400 features, I will double the cash portion of 2nd and 3rd place and add a second Champion Lab. And I will also... oh, wait, why ruin the fun?

Anyway, I was just looking for a reason to stay in touch and show off the cool banner. I look forward to the ever-growing list of quarterfinalist titles and being curious about which one will win. I hope we get to read your script soon.  And we are working hard to make this year's contest a cool experience for many of our entrants.