09 November, 2007

Red Planet Prize: Notified

Danny Stack:

" Right, as far as I know, all of the writers have been notified for the second round of the Red Planet Prize, so if you haven't received an email, then alas, you didn't get through.

Sorry about the agonising wait but it was equally agonising for us to pick a shortlist, as a lot of the scripts were of a very high standard. I'll do a post soon about some general observations from the submission pile, so stay tuned. "

Congratulations to those that got through and commiserations to everyone that didn't, especially me.

I've read a few comments about the result and I think the temptation to say "I must be shit" should be resisted. One of the scripts I entered had gone all the way to the final stage with the BBC writersroom. So it might not have been good enough to be shortlisted for the Red Planet Prize but it doesn't mean the script was crap or I'm crap. Other writers who didn't get anywhere had sent in scripts that got them agents.

After a brief session of self-pitying and slagging off the script readers, I will move on. I did my best and that's all I can do. If I went about it half-arsed then I would have been more gutted.

As I said before, I've learnt a lot writing my new script which will hopefully stick in the memory for the next script and for my entry for the 2008 comp.

Of course, it's the first time they've run the competition so allowances have to be made for the admin hiccups and shifting deadlines but I think overall it has been more of a positive experience than a negative one and Danny's observations should prove very useful.


Elinor said...

Commiserations Robin! Me neither...alas my dreams of Iggy must sustain us during this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

While I totally agree that the competition was all in all a 'good thing' I'm fast coming to the conclusion that any comp that is essentially a beauty parade in the opening round has limited appeal. With 2100 entries to RP Prize and only looking at the first 10 pages it's inevitable that loads of really excellent scripts - like your BBC one Robin - will just disappear in the crowd - I bet quite a few stonking 10 pagers got through to the next round which turn out to have 50 ensuing pages of steaming crud - this doesn't mean the script readers are crap, just human! I've noticed a pattern in my stuff - anything I've entered as a 'face in the crowd' which has attracted loads of entries I have done really badly in. Anything I've entered where I've had a chance to bring a little bit of me to the selection process eg an interview or personal recommendation, I've done very well in with exactly the same scripts. I think it might be time for me to stop enetering these beauty parade comps as I end up getting emotionally involved in the result even though your chances of success are zero.

Sometimes we kid ourselves it's all about merit when often it's more about dumb luck.
One final thought. I entered Blue Cat last year and got through the first round ie top 10% and then no further. It was really useful to know my script did better than the initial 90% rather than always wondering how good/bad I was. That's why it would be great to know from Danny S how many got through to the next round of RP. It makes a difference to me if they asked for 30 full scripts or 500!


Robin Kelly said...

I'm coming round to that thinking myself DD regarding competitions but I'll always be tempted because they look good on your CV.

Making the 10% was important to me too. Initially I guessed that 10% or 200 would be shortlisted then that guess came down to 100. The actual figure would be interesting but I suspect it is nearer 30.

potdoll said...

Hey well done for getting through to the final round at the bbc Robble! that's ace.

Lucy said...

Absolutely agree with DD - script readers are only human and the Ten Page Test doesn't always hold out as I'm keen to point out on my blog. My script too did very well at the BBC - in 2 depts - and has got me loads of meetings with other peeps too. Does that mean Red Planet made a mistake? Of course not*.

*Within the realms of "yes"**

**Within the realms of "only kidding"

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly (well, I have been taking the ginkgo) - they were only going to shortlist 12.

Of course, they didn't expect to get over 2000 entries, either.


Good luck to the finalists, anyway.

And commiserations to all the rest of us.


Dan said...

Personally, I made sure my first 10 pages seemed confident and intriguing, then ended with an event that would (hopefully) have a reader looking for page 11...

In my mind my 10 pages were a good foundation to the remaining 45. But without the whole script, a reader may have just considered my tactic a standard "tease" to make them say "oooh, go on then -- give us the rest of the script -- I'm hooked", and not look kindly on those.

Who knows what the criteria was for judging the first 10 pages. I'm guessing the majority of entrants of a screenplay competition would be literate and half-decent writers. So it probably just boils down to luck -- impressing them in some indefinable way: like how you worded things, the storyline was startlingly original, there was particularly memorable character, or something...)

It might have been best to ask for 30-page *complete* scripts -- then there's no excuses for anyone, really.

But hey-ho -- it was a great way to focus some ideas and having a *real* deadline helped enormously. I'm glad RPP exists now, but will be interesting to see if they change the rules in 2008.

podge said...

just askin was there a max page limit? i didnt see any when I read the rp comp rules, i chucked in a full length thriller circa 90 pages, doh. never mind, free entry, email subs allowed, Brit prodco, brilliant. start polishing yer scripts now for next year's contest.

Dan said...

No, no limit on length. Perhaps doing a 10-minute short would have been the best decision, tho -- if you're adept enough.

Liz Holliday said...

I didn't get through either - someone in my writers' group did, though, so now I'm doing the 'England fan cheering for Scotland in the World Cup' routine.

I, too, put in a feature script and now think it was probably a mistake. I believe they said anything over 30 minutes.

I wonder how many readers they had, and whether each entry only got read (at least initially) by just one person. I'm going to stick my head up over the parapet and say that I reckon a large chunk of the entries probably were objectively bad - basing this on having read slush for two sf magazines I used to edit - but that there's another band where you send in something decent that just turns out not to be to the taste of the reader. In short story terms that could be anything from the basic idea to 'I hate first person'. Here, who knows?

Tell you what, though - next year I'm definitely putting in something intended for tv.

Anonymous said...

Yes I submitted also feature material when TV might have been better.

I am actually a bit surprised not to see anyone from the scribosphere represented in this shortlist - bar the one new blogger.

It is usually heartening to be able to follow the progress of an Academy/ BSSC/Page or Blue Cat finalist or whatever. Here it seems as if they went out of their way to avoid shortlisting anyone with a blog. Maybe they were really looking for writers - 'off the radar' - but aren't we all..?

Lucy said...

"Maybe they were really looking for writers - 'off the radar'"

I doubt that extremely, the whole point of the Scribosphere is to promote your writing and work and show you take this lark seriously. For the RP peeps then to penalise people for that would be perverse in the extreme, not least for them 'cos presumably writers who don't follow the goss, read articles, do Po3s etc etc are going to be less polished.

I think it boils down to the fact that, with 2100 entries - even if there are a HUNDRED finalist placings (and I think like Shell there are less, for some reason I recall 30), you've still only got a 1/21 chance. No wonder so many fell by the wayside then.

Liz Holliday said...

I tend to agree with Lucy on this - but it's also possible that there's a (possibly unconscious) desire to be fair to people not known to the judges. Er. That'd be Danny in the case of most of the people posting here. (I hope this makes some kind of sense - have had a very odd week sleep-wise and I don't think it's just down to RPP nerves!)

Lucy said...

And there you have it: just as I suspected, it has to be nothing to do with being "off the radar" 'cos I just logged into facebook and foung out Andy Conway, moderator of the SP bulletin is through to the next stage.

Lucy said...

PS. Liz: Danny said anyone he recognised was going to another reader.

Anonymous said...

plus Miss Read is through - so well done to her and Andy Conway!

Liz Holliday said...

I remembered seeing that Andy was through after I posted but didn't have time to come back and correct myself. But I didn't mean that no one known to the organisers (I really wasn't just talking about Danny, honest!) stood a chance. Just that there might be a tendency to expect more so as not to be being seen as expecting less. But if Danny was passing scripts from people he knows to other readers, that can't be so. (Incidentally, in prose fiction a lot of comps ask for anonymous submissions to avoid just this problem - you submit a cover page with your name on; that's removed before the submission is read, and only an entry number identifies you.)

Anyway, I still think Tony Jordan is great for instigating this competition and that Danny and the others working on it have done a great job. Even if they did show a lamentable lack of judgement in the case of at least one script. *cough cough*

Robin Kelly said...

Thanks, Pots.

I actually do like the idea of everyone doing 30 minutes. They can still print and read just the first 10 pages and the rest is available to be read in full as and when.

Of course, the longer your script is the more likely your first ten pages will consist of set-up. I think brilliantly well-written set-up should count as much as something spectacular - just as they shouldn't assume something spectacular couldn't be backed up, Dan.

Shell, the shortlist may have been 12 but I would have thought that was the final shortlist from those asked for the full scripts. I believe that once you get to the top 10% of scripts, opinion is more subjective. It's no longer a question of whether it's well-written or not but if the reader likes it. So getting to that stage was all I realistically wanted.

I'm hoping the final figure of requested scripts is 1% so I can pretend I was in the top 2% but just missed out by a whisker after lots of arguing and fist-fights at Red Planet between my supporters and the opposition.

Jon Peacey said...

I think you've just come close to how I've been thinking about it.

Everybody keeps intimating that because they haven't got very far that this makes them a bit rubbish while alternatively it may just be that 2000 entries were really rather good but 100 were shiningly good and just stood out more.

Well, that's how I've decided to try and think about it. ;-)

Kay Richardson said...

I didn't get through and I'm going to burn all my books and chop my fingers off so as not to waste my time again.

Robin Kelly said...

I think that might be a little bit too drastic, Kay.

It's only a competition, no-one died. Any writing we do makes us better and can never be a waste of time.

But if you insist on going ahead then do it properly. You're bound to be tempted by voice-recognition software and produce scripts that way so you'll need to cut your tongue out as well.

Kay Richardson said...

Right. Off goes the tongue as well. But perhaps I should do that before I chop of my hands. Otherwise, I won't have anything to hold my chopper. And off with my chopper too.

Liz Holliday said...

When I was at Clarion if we had a rough time in the workshop we used to say we were going to chop our hands off and throw our computers in the sea. Yeah, in that order...

Kay Richardson said...

I suppose you might be able to pick them up with your teeth and your elbows?

Jon Peacey said...

Have I stumbled into some kind of modern re-telling of Titus Andronicus? ;-)