Feedback is extremely important and helpful in whatever you write in Nollywood. It doesn’t have to be from top-shot Hollywood industry execs, it could just be from your family and friends or some random geek online. But it’s advisable for you to go out of your comfort zone to get hit where it matters. Sometimes, you have to pay for it. Many script experts offer such packages, and it certainly is really attractive and beneficial, considering how everyone is fast evolving in the international film industry. It’s extremely important for you to know how well (or bad) your story is faring amidst tons of other stories.
Another interesting way of having your work compared with others’ work is by moving it into a community of critics. This could mean screenwriting forums, or one of which is popularly known as screenwriting competitions.
The latter is also a major way by which aspiring screenwriters break into the international industry —by entering their scripts into screenwriting competitions. It also appears there is some hope there, considering that the writer of Snow-White and the Huntsman made it through a certain one called Script Pipeline.
Industry executives have their eyes on these competitions. They wait upon the readers to give a thumbs-up on any script that they (the execs) might take interest in. And they follow-up afterwards.
There are loads of screenwriting competitions around, most especially in America (sadly none in Naija, and then again, screenwriting isn’t yet a lucrative industry here, is it?), and they allow for international entries. I’ve tried a few, spending at least $300 altogether on one script. It, also, requires a lot of patience as the results don’t come out till many many months after.
In my opinion, and from my experience, it’s important that an aspiring screenwriter never enters their script into a screenwriting competition that doesn’t give the option of feedback. These competitions only make you feel like your script never got around being read. Also, considering that these competitions receive about 5,000 scripts or so seasonally.
As an experienced English teacher, I’d say that all the readers need do is look for loopholes first, and when they find at least three things that don’t cut in, they bounce the script, and don’t read it. Next!
Sometimes, with that much workload, the readers wouldn’t even care! Imagine a reader having to read 200 scripts of at least 80 pages each in 6months, with their other schedules and engagements?! Come on, they need to find a way around it. I don’t blame them.
These competitions, though…
They come up with winning lists after every couple of weeks: top twenty-five percent, top ten percent, quater-finalists, semifinalists, finalists, and then the winner, after having read the submitted scripts. What happens if you don’t see your name on any of those lists? What was it that made your script fail amongst others? One major reason for these, and which I’ve experienced is so true is submitting late; submitting when they are tired of reading. But, even if your name comes up there, what was it about your script that made it supreme? You need to know! That is why feedback is important.
Usually at an extra fee (which you probably won’t mind considering what’s at stake), you failing to make any of these special lists, however, isn’t a loss, because you would have been given notes as to why your script didn’t make it, and what needs work. Then you can go ahead rewriting it and retrying. And believe me, with how intimate these notes are, there is no doubt that the competition had your script read.
There have been success stories of people who tried 6 times till they finally emerged as finalists. This can’t get past working with feedback notes, like I have. Nollywood writers need to always get these feedback notes to improve the quality of their screenplays.
More and more screenwriting competitions are including extra costs for feedback, and I advice that no matter how much it is, opt for it, as that is the only way you’re sure your script was read even.
Film making is not an easy industry. You think aspiring actors and actresses have competition? Screenwriters have competition too! Where isn’t there competition? Even in our small offices.
On a more serious note, Nollywood…
I don’t know who I’m reaching out to today in Nollywood. It seems you need some feedback on that screenplay you’ve been earnestly working on. Go out and get it even if it costs you a lot of cash. You may not like the perspective of the feedback, but it definitely won’t leave you with your former orientation; the same place that didn’t help break through the way you deeply desire.
See newer post on feedback HERE.
Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.
She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.