Why, it’s a chance for you to test your skills, meet people, and jump start your creativity. Spend a sleepless few days pushing yourself and your team to the limits for fun, glory, and the arts! I just finished the New Haven chapter’s 2013 run (but there are many other cities who haven’t started yet). Here’s why I had a great time and you might too:
1. Creating Under Pressure. Are you a perfectionist or a procrastinator? This project will give you a swift kick in the pants. When you only have a few hours to come up with an award-winning script, you dress down your task to the bare essentials and get cracking or you lose your chance altogether.
2. Making Friends (Or Strengthening Friendships). For me the majority of our team were strangers to me (friends of friends) at the onset. Now, not only do I know more passionate, talented people who are dedicated to filmmaking, but they also know me.
3. Learning. Want to learn something about lighting? A/V setup? Video editing? This is a great way to get a down and dirty overview of many of the jobs that are necessary to film creation. If you want to know, you will find out what goes into each person’s job on your crew.
4. Problem Solving. When you don’t have a lot of prep time or funds, you end up with problems that need solving quickly and creatively. This is a useful life skill all around, but it’s especially helpful when making a movie with a skeleton crew.
You can also win awards and screening potential. But for me, that’s the least of it. There’s nothing quite like a team of dedicated filmmakers pulling together to make something they can be proud of (or make fun of later depending on how it comes out).
Go check out the site. Quick. Your city might be starting theirs this weekend. Here, I’ll even link it again to save you some time: 48 Hour Film Project.
3.3.6-B – Sci-Fi Entry 48 Hour Film Project New Haven 2013
Oh yeah, that video up there? That’s the one my team came up with. Sci-Fi Genre had to include: tongs, Detective Steve Nash, and “I’d like to see you try.”
Watch it in HD if you want to make our Director of Photography happy. And if you go out and join your town’s 48 Hour Project, we’d love to see your video too, so link it up in the comments!
Have you ever thought about making your own webseries? Got a great idea you really want to bring to fruition? Of course you do, you’re a writer. So do it. Nowadays, anyone can make a webseries or a short – yes, even you.
Many people believe that they aren’t able to do what they want because they lack money and they don’t know anyone who will do what they need for free. At this point I say, well, then just do it yourself.
There are some things that you can’t do all alone. You can’t film a fifty person epic battle all by your onesies. But there are many other things that, with enough time and determination, you can accomplish alone. I’m going to point you toward the places where you can gain the knowledge and skills you need to succeed when no one else can or will help you.
Let’s start with post production. This may seem a little backwards, but without anyone to handle editing your video work, all you have are a lot of cool home videos.
Video editors take all of your raw footage, select your best shots and meld them together seamlessly, sync to music and sound, fix any issues that occurred during production, correct color imbalances, add cool titles, add animation, and more. This can seem overwhelming to a new editor, but trust me, with enough time and determination, you can do this. Start small.
You will need professional editing software: Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or Avid. They can be expensive, but you can get them on a trial, and if you’re a student, at a discount.
Can’t afford those? Well, Windows Movie Maker can do a pretty decent job depending on what you’re going for. And I also googled this list for you: Free Video Editing Software. You’re welcome. I can’t vouch for anything else on there, so you’ll have to fiddle around with it yourself.
There are a number of good books that can teach you the professional programs, but for free online video training I recommend Creative Cow for Premiere, After Effects, and AVID.
And if those don’t work for you, I use the pay service Lynda.com for all of those programs and more.
Some additional programs that help:
1. Image editors like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or any of these free image editors. I hear good things about Gimp. These programs will help you create still graphics that you can use in your video editing programs.
2. Adobe AfterEffects will help to create visual effects. I recommend Video Copilot for even more AfterEffects tutorials.
Get some footage and start playing around in one of the video editing programs today. A number of these tutorial sites also offer downloadable footage so that you can follow along. You don’t need to get super fancy with your visual effects yet (or ever depending on what you’re doing). I started out ripping footage off DVDs and syncing to music. Anything that gets you going.
Long after you’re done shooting, your video editor (or you) will be plugging away at post production. It’s an arduous process which is intense on both the computer and the editor, but it’s also completely doable and immensely rewarding when you see your finished product.
Oh and as a video editor myself, here’s a tip for all of you directors or would be video editors out there. Do you remember the time when you were filming and your brother came home, slammed the door upstairs a few dozen times, then carried on a conversation with your mom? Remember how you said “We’ll fix it in post”? Your video editor does. Because it took them forever to fix it.
Reshooting something might take you ten minutes. Fixing it in post will take you ten days. So save your editor and yourself some headache and please prepare. Barring that, reshoot it when you see it during filming, and if that fails placate your editor with lots of money (ha), praise (genuine helps), and back massages (this always works). And if you’ve done it to yourself, drown your regrets in your beverage of choice and get to editing. It’ll all be over soon, and then you’ll be able to watch your very own series.
Get some eyes on your spec, original pilot, or other original scripts by submitting to yearly television writing contests. Contests at least guarantee that someone will take the time to read through your script, and if you’re good (and lucky), they can offer cash, development deals, paid internships, high level workshops, and bragging rights. For the most part, television writing contests seem to be held in the first half of the year with the majority holding deadlines during or at the end of May. Once you hit June/July you’re pretty much going to be working for next year’s contests. In the spirit of helping every aspiring television writer out there, we’re listing a bunch of contests here in relative chronological order!
This one’s going first because it has many different deadlines throughout the year depending on which initiatives it is currently sponsoring. Take a good look, East Coasters, because this is all you’re gonna get close to home. Most of these contests (or ‘initiatives’) are for independent producers creating original content, meaning you’re probably going to have to get out there and film something – even if it’s just a couple minutes to go with your treatment. They partner with companies like A&E, History, and Fox to provide chances for development deals. Festival is held every fall in Manhattan. Check back for new initiatives.
Comedy spec scripts only. Sorry drama writers. Ready for this? Because this prize is a knockout. Nick hires (that means pays) around four writers to learn from the best, participate in production and development, meet all of the important players at Nickelodeon, and groom to (hopefully) work there when they’re done. Prepare to move to Burbank, California if you win, but they’ll pay round trip airfare and a month’s accommodations. A veritable holy grail for comedy writers. Oh, and you missed it for 2013. But there’s always next year.
Enter with everything from pilots to comedy/drama specs to reality shows (and there are a lot of reality show producers associated with this one). Cash prizes for the winners and feedback if you want to pay an additional $75. But more importantly, if you win, they show your work off to all of their contacts, producers, managers, and agents. Exposure exposure exposure. Their network is available for a possible leg up into the industry.
Break out your spec scripts and some of your original work because you’ll need one of each. For original work they accept pilots, short fiction, screenplays, or short plays. However, for a funky twist to spice up your life, the rules state that your spec and your original work will need to ‘match in tone’. The workshop takes place in the Los Angeles area (noticing a trend, yet?) where you will be shaking hands with and learning from all kinds of television bigwigs. You win access to executives, support, and the chance to dive right in and observe your mentor’s writing room.
Comedy and Drama specs accepted. A 12 week intensive course held on Tuesday and Thursday nights designed to help you create an awesome spec and pilot to show to those who might hire you. This is described as a program for writers who just need a little spit shine to be ready for professional work. Once again, get ready to rush out to California as the workshop is held in Universal City. No one’s helping you get there either. But we all know if you win you’ll hitchhike your way out there and live under a bridge if you have to (remember to charge a hefty toll).
Comedy and Drama specs accepted. A lot like the NBC Writers on the Verge but now with 100% more Warner Bros. A Tuesday nightly workshop in Los Angeles, California with the end goal of possibly being staffed on a television show. No help with housing or pay, but when your big break knocks, are you going to tell it you just can’t afford it right now? A great many working professional television writers have been through this workshop – and some have written books about it.
Entry period: Usually May – June 1st as well. (For some reason they don’t like to keep their deadlines posted until it begins.)
Comedy and Drama specs accepted. Make sure you have three solid specs, because if you become a finalist you may be asked for more work. If (or when) you win, you are offered the opportunity to become an employee of Disney with an annual salary of 50,000 USD. As with Nickelodeon, you will be exposed to and work with key personnel to advance your career. They will also have the option to buy the scripts you submitted at the price that would befit your experience level. Something to be aware of: this one is going to require recommendations from people who work in the industry so start sucking up to bothering asking your friends in the industry for glowing letters extolling the virtues of your writing prowess.
These are TVWriter’s own flagship contests, one for comedy or drama spec scripts and the other for original pilots (guess which is which). With thousands of dollars in winnings as well as the invaluable mentorship of Larry Brody, we happen to think the rewards are top notch. TVWriter is dedicated to helping you write your very best, so this year LB and company are offering free feedback for every entry! How’s that for a deal? On a personal note, this contest has some of the quickest and most personable responses from LB himself. Makes you feel like someone actually wants to read your script – not to find any reason to throw it in the circular filing cabinet.
Entry Period: Feb 25th – July 2nd (tiers of submission deadlines)
Original Feature, Horror, and Teleplay/Webisode winners each win 3,000 bucks in addition to other prizes and the chance to have their script read by production companies, studios, and agents. Winner for original feature length screenplay this year receives $10,000 and $50,000 to produce the film. If you’ve got an idea for a movie while you’re perfecting your webseries and your specs, now’s the time to get cracking!
So, Fox. I get that you only want professionals, people who’ve worked in your industry already. Not so great for the rest of us trying to catch a break, but I get that bit. But how about updating your website with the new deadlines? Or letting us know if there’s even going to be a new contest? Nothing up here except for last year’s info. If you see something pop up, feel free to let us know (or keep it to your greedy self). Go forth, write, edit, and buy those antiquated brads, champ. Because you can’t win if you don’t play.
EDITED by LB TO ADD: Here’s another contest, one we just thought of. First reader/commentor to tell us why the pic at the top of this article is relevant (and, yep, it is) gets a prize. (C’mon, you can do it. Writers are the Kings & Queens of General Knowledge. Or at least we’re supposed to be.)