Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quarterfinalists for the 2011 Champion Screenwriting Competition

Congratulations to the Quarterfinalists

Including all of the categories, we received more than 1200 entries and are proud to announce the quarterfinalists in all categories.  We apologize for falling behind.  We are aiming to have semi-finalists chosen by middle of January or so.

Quarterfinals represent approximately the top 20% of entries.  It's an achievement to even have made it this far.  Thanks to everyone who has been part of this community.  I am going to be announcing a few things in 2012 that will grow our community and bring more writers together with some great teachers.

Check out the new newsletter - link at Facebook -- and "like" us there, too.

Happy Holidays!

Jim Mercurio


Congratulations to the last writers standing out of 110 pitch entries.  I like the fact that a few names have more than one entry.  You, go, Writers!

 April Fool's Killer by Romy Michel
Brand Me by Matthew Haley
Brucey Baby by Lew Sherwood
Chasing Losses by Graham Calvert
Clipper by Kathy Panzella
Cyberkat by Carrie Bradstreet
Dallas, 12:30 PM, CST by Mark Trapanese
Dogwood by Emilie Clark
Doubles by Thomas Galvin
Halloween Heroes by Lew Sherwood
Heaven-Sent by John Leary & Alison McMahan
King of Kings by Nellie Meyers
Leather and Lace by Kelly Frey
Meatspace by Geoff Inverarity
Miss Old Freshman by Ashley Spears
No Cigs in Space by Sundae Jahant-Osborn
Once You Kiss a Bad Boy by Penelope Swan
Payback's a Bitch by Deprise Brescia
Seeing Red by Sundae Jahant-Osborn
Special Needs by Geoff Inverarity
Taking Up Serpents by Cash Anthony
The Bin by Derek and Kimberly Coleman
The Bounty by Vishaal Desai
The Last Remaining Light by Andrew Henderson
The Road To Shambala by John Alarid
Trail's End by Kelly Frey
Undercover Ugly by Ann Kimbrough
Yellow Trees by Aimee Condayan

Congrats to the scene writers!

All The Wrong Places (poetry scene) by Sean Connolly
Apostle Of War -  scene 2 by Marina Albert
Bad Pistachio by Daisy Ho
Betrayal Consultants by Daisy Ho
Breach of Confidence by Lisa Scott
Bump Off by Nellie Myers
Club Night by Renana Hancock
Mean Creek by Dan Goforth
One of Many by Ken Embery
Revolution by Derek Coleman and Kimberly Coleman
Set For Life - scene 3 by Lew Sherwood
Shoot... Mr. President - scene 1 by Marina Albert
Shoot... Mr. President - scene 3 by Marina Albert
Sister Secrets by Alison McMahan
Soldier System 14 by Alison McMahan
Taking Up Serpents by Anthony Cash
The Café Society by Millar Prescott
The Free and the Brave by Ed Rathje
The Harder We Fall by April Wolak
The Long Shot by Lorrie Smith
Tower of Rapunzel (Laura/Gordon) by Robert Mules
Trick Riding Mamie - scene 3 by Ian J. Craine
Warrior Soul by Jim Kenney
Worshiping Sophia by Lew Sherwood
Yellow Trees by Aimee Condayan


We received almost 200 shorts and if you made this list, that means you were in the top 20% of all shorts entries.  Congratulations to everyone and congrats to Daniel for having THREE scripts advance.

A Fine Day for It by Deborah  Grimes
A Life Relented by Michael Miceli
A Ride Into Darkness by Michael Farley
Autumn Leaves by Millar Prescott
Banana Bone by Mike Janowiak & Joan Easley
Classroom Things by Mike Goforth
Collision by Katherine Beattie
Death's Toll by Nicholas Young
If You Do Not Wish To Accept... by Daniel Chomistek
Infomercials We'd Like to See by Daniel Chomistek
Inside Out by Dawn Johnston
It's Tea Time by Sandra Gabrych
Joan by Yvette Farmer
Looking for Seoul by Eric Day
Lunch by Doug Nelson
Marked by Ramon Zapata Jr.

Mean Creek (3-page version) by Dan Goforth
No Way Home by Joseph Mancini
Nobody by Tracy Sunderland
One Day Left by Michael Quintana
Pageant People by Neil Valentine
Pitchfork by Kevin Conner
Prombies by Jonathan Klemke
Riding Goode by Kimberly Coleman
Saint Anthony by Matthew Feely
Sex Love Revenge by Darnell Brown
Situation 5 by Curtis Melroe
So Awkward by Matthew Stevens
St. Anthony's by Matthew Feely
Still Life by Joy Armstrong
Tag Sale by Judith Conway
The Butterfly's Rude Awakening by David Paster
The Chick by Jessica Farris
The Fallen Protege by Tim Buttner
The In Between by Max E. Stone
The Magic of The Star by J.B. Mathel
The Shape in the Mirror by Dennis Shutty
Ye Old Recruiting Station by Daniel Chomistek
Zip It by Jan Stanton

Congratulations to the quarterfinalists.  They are in the hunt for the top 20 spots and almost $50,000 in cash and prizes. 

3D at the Palace by Robert Kent Wilson II
7 Seasons by Seryna Thai
A Baseball Story by Thomas Pace
A Country of Strangers by Sean Armstrong
A Flash of Light by Daniel Cubias
A Man of His Word by Seth Bartholomew
Abomination by Ross Raffin
Absolution by Michael Lupariello
All You Can Eat by Patrick Trillo
Amsterdam XXX by Joseph Wiggins
An Unlikely Prey by Mike Murphy
Anatomy of a Town by Patricia Fox
Anderson Falls by Giles Daoust
Appearances by Frederic Richter
Beast by Conor Duffy
Black Moses by Peter Zachara
Bleeding Kansas by C.J. Morris
Bloody Dawn by Brendon Slee
Broken Sinclair by Elizabeth Ashby
Canaries by Craig Cambria
Cargo by Samuel Bartlett
Chairman of the Party by Wendy Pierce
Chance Elliott And the Book of Ultimate Power by Jeff Trently
Chasing Bugs by Debbra Jansen
Child of the Disappeared by Michael Holliday
Chromosome 21 by Maryann Beckman
Chronos by Patrick Chao
Claim Denied by William Roth
Come Back, Shane by Robert Weinberger
Conduct Unbecoming by Jon Wright
Cowboys In Heaven by Thomas Kronlage
Daddy King And Me by Francis Presley
Dearborn Hotel by Peter Gaffney
Death Wind by Travis Heermann
Department of Lost Souls by Ryan Blackwell
Distracted by Lutz Reissmann
Dreamland Confidential by Sean Agard
Dueling Hearts by William Slough
Dust Devil by Mark Bankins
Elementary by Jeff Hower
Empire of the Dead by John Liang
Esperancia by John Edward Flynt
False Sense by Craig Cambria
Family Plots by Harvey Jacobs
Fin Chaser by Maria Cozzi
Final Words by Lyndon Mcgill
First Under Heaven by Ellwyn Kauffman
Flat Pennies by Robert Ward
Flying Shoes by Melissa Brewer
Furious Angels by Nathan Ruegger
Girl On Main by Christine Hinz
Gone by Patrick byrne
Haber by Daniel Ragussis
Halloween Baby by Sandra Bowes
Happy Trails by Michael Rhodes
Haunted by Darryl Anka
Heaven Or Bust by Stephen Mack
Hellfighters by Will Burgess
Historia by Leo Sardarian
Hoop by Dianne Dempsey
In A Small City In Belgium by Carlo Bordone
International Waters by Stephen Gill
Jenna's Gone by Russ Meyer
Jesse James vs. Jack the Ripper by Alasdair Mcmullan
Kill Me Already by Sundae Jahant-Osborn
Land of the Free, Home of the Slave by Cliff Zimowski
Left Behind by Yuri Shallan
Love the Hive by Derek Cavens
Media Circus by Charles Emery
Medusa - A Story of Love and Revenge by Elizabeth Reams
Mr. Clark by June Escalante
My Greatest Mistake by Rebecca Rocheford Davies
Newton's Laws of Emotion by Eugene Ramos
Next of Kin by Shane McCabe
Nigel & Me by Annie Bénichou Macdonald
Nobody Likes You by Justin Muschong
Off Record by Patrick T. Lo
One Million Words by Vince Bailey
One of Many by Ken Embery
Pinocchio: The Wooden Boy Soldier by Samuel Bartlett
Pirate Queen by Lee Costanzo
Plan B by Rick Doehring
Playing For Home by Kathy Pyatt
Ponytail by Jason Ginsburg
Rebound Man by Robert Fox
Red Hats by Michael Toay
Red Khmer by Jonathan Shepard
Red Snow by Nathan Ruegger
Redemption 37 by Edward Mann
Reich by Andrew McPherson
Ressurected For What Exactly? by Simon Carter
Reunions, and Other Lies by Kenneth Lemm
Roughin' It by Jason Pizzarello
Secret Asian Man by Mary Krell-Oishi
Seven Thousand Islands by Gary White
Silence by John Edward Flynt
Silent Night by Kate Mandalov
Sleep, My Daughter by Tom Walters
Sons of Molly by Peter Gazdag
Spike Driver Blues by T. Steed
Spirit of the Rain by John Tupper
St. Brigid's Cross by Jan-Christian Sorensen
Suicide Squeeze by Sonny Wareham
Sultana by Lee Costanzo
Sweet Emotion by Michael Perri
Table For Two by Warren Paul Glover
The Afterlife Hotel by Claudia Arndt
The Breaker by Josh Lovison
The Cracked Menagerie by Ian Kelly
The Dead Sister by Mike Sherer
The Demons Down Below by Jim Kenney
The Earth Cantor by Kim Brantley
The Enemy In The Castle by by Letty Hummel
The Extraction Team by Mike Koivisto
The Fallen King by Alexandre Bailly
The Free And The Brave  by Ed Rathje
The Friend Zone: The Sad, Comical Chronicles of a Sideline Guy by Kenlon Clark
The Ghostwriter/ Plan B by Rick Doehring
The Humane Façade by Sally Richter
The King of Staten Island by Andrew Gaty
The Last Suicide Note by J R O'hara
The Launch by Edward Martin III
The Night by Sean Hartofilis
The North Puddle by Rick Fonté and Don Zolidis
The Outer Banks by Collin Jay Blair
The Outliers by Linda Haltmaier
The Pardon by David Rakowiecki
The Pied Piper by Sara Caldwell
The Spider's Web by Valerie Nordstrom
The Truth By Walden Matussey by Tim Boughn
The Twenty-First Truth by Scott Wallace
The Unseen: Rise of The Highwayman by John Miles
The White Death by James Poirier
The Winter Wars by Anton H. Gill
Through the Night by Edward Martin III
Totem - A Zombie Story by Sean Escalante
Trapped in Cinemascope by Nicholas Erasmus
Treasure in the Park by John Barlowe & Irin Evers
Uncle Hoppy And The Pecos Kid by Clinton Braly
Undiscovered Country by Peter Tamaribuchi
Valley of the Dragon by D.T. Siddhartha Fraser
Vindication by May Chaplin
War Dogs by Julian Surface, Travis Parke and Pat Gaston
When Darkness Falls by Arturo Portillo
Wings of Beauty by David Bintliff Johnson, Jr. & Mike Gilmore
Wright Or Wrong by Brooks Elms

Congratulations to the quarterfinalists.  About one-quarter of you will be invited to Los Angeles to join Ellen Sandler for a TV workshop in Los Angeles.

TV – Pilots
CTA by Aaron Rollins
Death & Taxes by Carolyn Kras
First Church of Dave by Alex Logan
Friends Academy by Jessica Weinberg
Full Tilt Boogie by Amber Crawford-Idell
Gates Flying Circus by Dennis DeBon
Gone (Shadows & Light) by Skip Berry
Happy Pines by Aaron Rollins
Holbrook by Justin Paquette
Rebound by Nantale Corbett & Lauren Tuck
Rest in Peace by Jill Weinberger
Retouch Me by Kevin Kautzman
Searcher by Jennifer Hahn
Sleepers by Frederick Kim
Starship Infinity by Colby Day
Storyville by Abigail Bean
The Harbinger by Travis Opgenorth
The Incumbent by Alexis Perkins
The Pharm by Matthew Sagona
The Romero Strain: An Undead End by Ted Sterns
The Scene by Azia Squire
The Vienna Clan - by Isaac Richter
Vigilante by Ophir Gottlieb
Witchman House by Milly Sanders
X by B.R. Stanley
Z-Force by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm

TV – Spec Comedy
Archer - Soft Target by Gregory Boytos
Community - Competitive Physics by Jessica Kelley
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Dennis and Dee Commit A Little Incest by Amy Taylor
Modern Family - Friendly Fire by Charity Paniamogan
Modern Family - Gun Fights On The Shore by Jonathan Rincon
Modern Family - Sweet Child O Mine by Aadip Desai
Modern Family - Throw it Back by Jason Voegel
Modern Family - Electile Dysfunction by Amanda Parham
Parks and Recreation - Drag Queen Bingo by Carlos Cisco

TV – Spec Drama
Battlestar Galactica - Twelve Faces by Jessica Alexander & Dana Melton
Body of Proof - Heaven Help Us by Katie Hennicke
Breaking Bad - Kingpin by Stephanie Stanley
Dexter - Rita's Requiem by Dennis Luu
Fringe - Its Bark by Noah Edelson
Hawaii Five-O - Kumakaia by Greg Benevent
Southland - Say What You Want by Audrey Webb
The Killing - Square One by Rebekah Suellau
The Vampire Diaries: My Brother's Keepers by Karen O'Connor
True Blood - Dark Blood by Allison Phelan

Monday, December 5, 2011

UPDATE - Dec 11

By Tuesday, the few people whose scripts weren't uploaded correctly should all be contacted.  I will announce quarterfinalists on Wednesday even if it's a list that covers all but a handful of scripts.  Those quarterfinalists will be added over the next few days.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Update - Sort of

Hey Everyone,
This year, in addition to our Withoutabox presence, we also had our own entry system.  It has created an extra hundred hours of extra work for us but in the long run the money saved makes running the contest viable.  Without those savings, we would probably not even be able to have a contest next year.

The downside is that we are a bit behind in the reading.  I think we should be able to announce quarterfinalists this month and give the class winners four to six weeks to prepare for an LA trip.  I don't have an exact time-frame.  I am a one-man band here and am working on several projects simultaneously -- scene writing book and DVD set -- which will impact the screenwriting community in a positive way.

Make sure you are signed up for contest updates via Constant Contact.  (Sign up for the newsletter and then adjust which lists you want to be on.)  And follow us on Facebook.  I give some real-time updates there which also go out on Twitter.

There should be a few extra seats in the Champion Lab available for sale, so start thinking about January.  ;-)

Thanks for your patience.


Monday, October 3, 2011


Hey Everyone,

People have been asking about announcement deadlines.  I don't want to over-promise and make 1000 entrants mad when we miss it.  I have been SWAMPED with the last month of my book deadline and working on the post-process for my feature.  And truth be told (those who know me will verify), scheduling and estimating time is not my forte.  My stepkids have invented a word called "jim-time" where you double any time estimate I make.  ;-)

The last few years, we finished earlier and rushed to get the Champion Lab in before the holidays and I think some people weren't able to attend, so here is a guess.  Some time in November -- I wanted to say 11-11-11 but I might be at AFM then -- we will announce quarterfinalists.  And then as quickly as possible, we will try to put out the top 20 feature and top 10 TV list so those writers can plan to attend the Champion Lab or Ellen's Class. I will try to have the classes near each other in case some want to attend both.  I think the time that works for me and Ellen and which won't be a rush for the winners is mid-January.

In the past we have had a dinner and sort of an informal party for the top writers where I announce the winners.  But I am a storyteller at heart, so if the tension begins to lag before the classes maybe I will improvise and announce the winners beforehand. 

I have a lot of cool new things to tell you all about that will impact you and that involve past winners, my new DVD set as well as some of my friends from the old school Creative Screenwriting days and several amazing screenwriting teachers.

In touch soon.

Jim Mercurio

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 2011 Updates for the Champion Screnwriting Competition


Enter by May 27 and...
  • If you are a semifinalist in film or TV you are entered into a random drawing for $200 travel stipend to come to the Champion Lab or Ellen Sandler TV Lab.
  • You save money.  Pitches and Scenes are only $12.
  • Order Champion Development notes and you get a free copy of Killer Endings or T-Word Theme
      • Order at Champion site or email us at
  • Use the CD Notes or the Coverage category and you have time to resubmit a new draft.
  • Also, we are giving away 20 copies of Killer Endings to 20 random Craft & Career subscribers who are on our list or entered the contest by this deadline.

Remember, pitches are free-form.  And setups are optional with the scenes.

Since no one has entered a total of five scenes or pitches, I might offer a special where you can enter five scenes from the same script or five pitches for a discounted price.


Directly from Jim Mercurio:

My senior reader who is doing the development notes is ridiculously amazing.  She is a produced writer herself and does the intensive notes for this price only because I give her full-time reading work.   When I promote these notes, I literally take business away from myself, so believe me, it's an amazing deal.

Also, the movie I directed and the book on scene writing might take me away from teaching anything but the Champion Lab.  It's really an amazing class.  I put 150 hours into into near the end of the year.  I think it's value is second in the entire contest to the $10,000 Grand Prize.  Check out the testimonials.

If you are using our system to enter, remember, the email confirming  payment is proof that you are entered.  If you don't get that, most likely the script  uploaded. You can email us (replace the two x's when you click this link) with the title, categories extra services (coverage, notes, JPM consulting) and we will send an invoice that you can pay with PayPal or with a credit card.  If you try to enter before the deadline and there is a problem, just contact us and we will make sure your script is considered for that "deadline period" and price.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The 2011 Champion Screenwriting Competition is up and running.  You can still enter via Withoutabox but you also have the option of using our own entry procedure.  We are also introducing the Champion Screenwriting Scene & Pitch Competition, which only accepts submissions through our system.


The problems have been relatively few.  A few people are having problems with the check out cart "dropping" their products.  It's working better.  Hit "start over" when you begin and if for some reason, it won't let you pay, most likely your scripts were uploaded.  Email us and we can send you a PayPal invoice which can be paid with PP or any CC. 


Also, since the cart didn't allow for Champion Development Notes after-the-fact, we are going to announce that until the March 11 deadline, all feature writers can add Champion Development Notes and still be eligible for resubmission.  Email us and we will make it easy for you.

And f you are going to do multiple scenes, now is the time.  They are $10 apiece until the Early Bird Deadline.

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    2011 Champion Competition - 72 Hours away!

    Hey Everyone,

    If some of you got the online Script Mag and went to the site, you will see we aren't up and running yet.

    We are going to launch in two-three days with a brand new look, some brand new categories and an entirely new contest that is going to run concurrently.  Get your screenplays, TV scripts, scenes and pitches ready.

    Oops, did I just give away some of the surprises.

    Stay tuned.


    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Testimonial from the Grand Prize Winners

    After placing in the top twenty we were excited and after finding out that we  placed first in the competition, we we're absolutely thrilled! The class that followed was fantastic.  It helped fine tune our story and there is no doubt that we walked away with a much better script.  Winning also helped us get a  manager that we are currently working with.  Winning the Champion Screenwriting Competition really is just the beginning!  
    -Geoff Elsner and Carson Griffis

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Testimonials from the 2010 Champion Lab

    The screenwriting lab was terrific and perhaps even a watershed moment in my screenwriting journey.  Jim's approach is particularly valuable to those who have completed scripts, feel they are pretty good, and want to see how to get them “over the hump.” It is a “personality” driven class, not a stiff, formal seminar.  Jim doesn’t come at you from a “superior” place; he approaches the subject as a film lover with exhaustive knowledge of and a fascination with how this stuff works.  He welcomes student discussion and debate.  He covers the standard issues of theme, plot, and character, but doesn’t smother you in untranslatable theory; you’ll break down films and scripts,  see where they work, where they don’t, and riff together on other possible solutions and approaches.   By watching examples from Harrison Ford action films, Sean Penn dramas, and Julia Roberts comedies, we see not only how great scenes are accomplished most effectively, but also how the “mundane” stuff, such as exposition, is done correctly; often the difference between a script that is actor and producer “bait” and one that points at amateurishness.   

    Jim Mercurio really clarifies the “scene” as both a thing (“what is this scene about” & "can actors play it?") and a piece of a larger puzzle (“how does it relate to the larger issues of the script?) in ways that particularly help those with a completed script.

    That complete script is a great thing, but every professional writer knows it is only the beginning.  I without reservation recommend Jim’s class for anyone with a script (or three) who wonders “what to do now?”  
     - Jim Kenney 

    When you finally get serious about completing your own character arc as a screenwriter, contact Jim Mercurio.  Learn what it takes to make you and your script work.
      - Jeff Fry

    No one takes you more in-depth than Jim.  Never again will you waste a line of scene direction or dialogue.  There is no doubt he'll take your craft to a higher level.
     - Alicia Lomas

    "When I flew across the country to attend Jim's (Champion Lab) I had a high-concept screenplay I had labored with for over a year and was convinced was ready for market. Not even an inkling of doubt it was ready. After attending Jim's 3 day workshop, I realize I have at least another three months to go to take it to the level it needs to be. And I couldn't be more thrilled and motivated! Through a combination of instruction, collaboration and deep analysis of films and screenplays, Jim revealed the creative decisions professional writers made, and the craft they employed, to take their scripts to the level which attracted a-list talent. Jim has a tremendous gift for translating the what's of screenwriting into the how's, all in a way which gives you the necessary insight and inspiration to translate the learnings to your own work. This workshop experience will forever alter the way I approach screenwriting. Thank you, Jim!"
    - Mark Reinisch

    Jim's lab is a great experience for newbies and veterans alike. I got the most from his beat-by-beat analysis of how theme drives every aspect of a script from concept to plot to characterization to dialogue. Jim's constant reference back to theme served the Hollywood approach to film, but it also offered the potential to add more depth and resonance to every story.

    In other classes, it often feels like there's little unity to the instruction given. Just like a good script, Jim's lab is deeply unified by a few simple principles that affect every level of a script. He really inspired and prepared me to jump into my rewrite.

    Jim's insights into direction, editing, cinematography, production design and editing were fascinating.
    - Kevin Miller

    After being a Finalist in the 2009 competition, I came in Second in 2010 with a different script, Bank Robbing For Dummies.  Not only was the prize money delivered immediately (the check was actually placed in my hand at the time of the announcements), all Finalists were invited to attend a free class taught by Jim Mercurio -- a very informative and in-depth examination of writing for film.  I’d highly recommend entering the contest, and if you become a Finalist, be sure to attend the class. 
     - Robert Keith Watson