Thursday, January 17, 2013

WRONG about BlueCat!

Wow, I am so happy I was SO WRONG about BlueCat!

Posted on Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn and sent emails to BlueCat as to how BlueCat screenplay contest had gypped me, taken my money, acknowledge receipt of my screen play and.... And did not give me the review of my screen play their contest site offered.

This morning I woke abut 3 AM (when that happens I am grateful I write) anyhow I opened my email and voila: there was an email from BlueCat with a review of the screenplay I had submitted, to what I thought was for a 2012 contest but turned out to be for the 2013 contest!

I will not diss myself for dishing it to BlueCat, it has been rough since September. My husband  (John) and I after a month of packing had just moved to our home in gold country when - two weeks later - as my mom prepared to visit she had a stroke. After interminable back and forth to Southern California, and mom having other strokes she died. Meantime, in New York,  John's mom fell and nine days after intering my mom in Palm Springs, we were in Long Island for my mother in law's wake and burial.  To say the least, I was frayed, but most likely would still have said something to BlueCat because I hold myself and others to: mean what you say and do what you mean.

Now and with immense pleasure,  I sincerely apologize to BlueCat for saying "they took my money and didn't give me the review promised".

This is the first time I submit a screenplay. Have published articles on CBS-Sacramento and but for novels and short stories I have submitted I only got a "check our webpage for a list of winners"' or the like. To boot, BlueCat's review is more than I expected. Other than for reviews done by fellow writers at groups, BlueCat comes second to a four page review I received  on a novel's first chapters submitted at a writing contest to Leonard Bishop (Dare to be a Great Writer).  When I placed finalist for poetry on the SFWC, although pleased I would have loved a review or guidance regarding my poetry.

So excited about BlueCat's that I am posting the entire review, and although there is much improvement needed, there is some good and I feel energized to make changes!

Now on with BlueCat's review and analysis of my screenplay:

"Dear BlueCat Writer,

Thank you for your submission to the 2013 BlueCat Screenplay Competition. Please find your two analyses of your screenplay from your readers below.

All submissions remain in contention and under full consideration for the competition.

Every BlueCat entrant receives analysis to confirm a complete read of your screenplay and let you know what we thought about your work. We hope you use the notes to develop your screenplay in the most productive way you can.

What do you think about our readers' evaluation of your writing? BlueCat relies on our writers' input to ensure we provide the soundest and most honest adjudication of our submissions.

We sincerely hope your experience with BlueCat gives you the space to focus more effectively on the development of your screenwriting skills, as well as clearing a more direct path to your professional goals.

Please let me know you if you have any questions, and thank you again for sending BlueCat your screenplay.


Gordy Hoffman

Archive #2460
The Dancer
Reader #6094
What did I like?
Your story falls into a clear and specific area of interest that certain audience members are going to appreciate.  The inner world of the dancer is a subject with which many are fascinated, and you have interesting things to say about this throughout your script.  Therefore, I think the expectations that certain audiences may have before reading your story will be satisfied because you are straightforward in your subject matter.  Knowing your audience and what will appeal to their specific targeted interests is important in telling your script in an effective way.  Not only does it mean that you’ll attract audiences that are interested in the niche you’re trying to appeal to, but it also improves overall clarity.  It’s good to keep a little mystery throughout a story so that the audience is consistently wondering what is going to happen next, but it’s also extremely helpful to know specifically what genre the film is and what to expect so that everyone is on the same page in reading your story; good work.
What needs work?
Unfortunately, the clarity of your script in all matters other than the general subject matter was murky.  The structure of your script was confusing, and left me feeling frustrated and uncertain at many points.  Definitely try to clear this up, as losing your audience too early due to something not being clear is often the downfall of many otherwise good scripts.  I noticed two main reasons for this: too even a division between visuals and dialogue, and incorrect screenplay format. 
In considering the former issue of visuals versus dialogue, I noticed that you often have one scene almost entirely told in dialogue, and the next, almost entirely visual.  It seems extremely rigid to so evenly divide things in this way; try to integrate the two together a little bit more.  While film is a visual medium in which so much can be told through imagery (which you seem to understand well because you have so many purely visual scenes), it is often a combination of visuals and dialogue that gets a story across.  Try to juxtapose more of these elements to make them more evenly spread out through your entire script.  This will give your script a consistent feel and a balance that will clear up some of the confusion over what is going on at a given time in your story.
In considering the latter issue of correct format, your script is structured much more similar to a stage play than a screenplay.  Screenplays have a very specific format for the specific reason of avoiding any misunderstandings; it can be confusing enough to understand what’s going on in a movie, so the intent with a rigid format such as screenplay format is to take away one potential area that may trip up readers unnecessarily.  It also reflects more the specific issues that come up with making a movie (just as a stage play reflects the specific limitations and complications that may arise with producing a play on the stage).  Definitely take a look at a screenplay format guide and restructure your script accordingly.  This is an easy fix that will exponentially clear up some clarity issues – you should never give the audience a potential reason for them to disengage, especially if it’s so easily remedied.

Archive #2460
The Dancer
Reader #5051

What did I like:

Although often telling her story in an exhausted, almost detached manner, Morganne manages to sequences the events in her life in an emotionally captivating manner, almost as though presenting her story from a documentary-like perspective.  The sequencing additionally conveys a dramatic sensibility that Morganne is not plagued by a single event in her past, but a collection of increasingly more devastating events that will take a true strength of character to overcome.

What needs work:

Consider the individual pieces of Morganne’s past and how these pieces interact with each other and with Morganne’s specific personal goals.  Morganne only talks about her desire to dance, and seems so scorned by men in the past that it becomes questionable whether she really yearns for a romantic relationship.  Even if Morganne fears the idea of love, give the reader a better sense whether she wants love and whether she even recognizes this about herself, as the third act becomes more concerned with romance than dancing.  Additionally, consider how Morganne’s desire to dance growing up and her struggle with polio relates to her sexual struggles (the rape, the failed engagement).  Right now, these two aspects of her past dominate flashbacks, but never feel as though part of the same character’s back story.

Additionally, consider the stakes of this story and how the emotional stakes reflect Morganne’s goals.  For instance, Morganne references that she blames herself for the rape because she got into the car, yet, because this story does not focus heavily on the influence of that rape, this sense of self blame is never addressed again and Morganne never gets the opportunity to overcome this event.  Consider Morganne’s character arc over the course of the story and focus on establishing emotional conflicts that Morganne can overcome within the boundaries of the script.

The flashback sequences and some of the description passages in the present have a tendency to tell the reader more than show.  Keep in mind that descriptions typically denote strict visuals and any notations of internal emotion or exposition cannot easily be conveyed through visuals alone.  Take for instance, “Morganne remembers but she also knows she cannot live at home,” (34).  This information is impossible to convey through an actress’ expression alone.  Try to find a way to fit this type of information into the dialog, while keeping descriptions focused on distinct actions and visuals.  This may additionally demand expanding some of the early flashback sequences from just visuals, into more elaborate, character-driven scenes.

On a related note to how this story relies on visuals, make sure the visuals do not overpower the story to the point that the dialog becomes lost.  Consider the set-up of Act One – this act delivers some of the more powerful, important flashbacks, yet Morganne’s discussion with Carson seems somewhat idle, as though Morganne is talking to herself, or the reader directly, rather than having a discussion with Carson.  Consider what Carson’s presence adds to this act and how the present is as important as the past.  If you find the situations at present merely frames for Morganne to talk about the past, consider cutting out the flashback element completely and tell the story in real time.

Although a lesser note, this script uses some unconventional formatting throughout, especially within the flashback sequences.  For a more professional appearance and uniform style, consider looking into more standard screenplay formatting techniques.  Additionally, a frequent typo – there are many instances of incorrect your/you’re that would be worth correcting throughout."

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