By Jacob Wehrman | Feature Screenplay Contest Top 5 Winner.
When I entered the Shore Scripts feature competition a few years ago, I had spent a considerable amount of time and money educating myself about the craft of screenwriting. I bought the typical books. I watched the Masterclasses. I signed up for all the websites and read as many scripts as I could stand. I wrote one feature. Then another, and a third.
At the time I had a grasp of the mechanics of writing, but my aspirations were scattered. I wanted to find a literary manager. I wanted a script to be optioned. I wanted to be a professional writer. However, as we all find out sooner or later, that’s the business end of screenwriting— the part we can’t control.
“As new writers we can only control the creative side by developing our best ideas into a plot with characters, and then executing that as clearly as possible on the page.”
But once the work is done, the question still remains: Where to send it?
With that in mind I think the majority of new screenwriters, myself included, are more interested in making connections in the industry rather than bringing home awards, accolades, or cash.
This was my strategy when I found the Shore Scripts website in 2019. My goal at the time was to make one or two new contacts in the industry by putting my best writing forward and entering a few select contests and reader services.
“I researched previous Shore winners and was impressed by the industry roster of producers, directors, agents, and literary managers. These folks want to read the next hit, and they were the exact people I wanted to read my screenplay.”
So, I entered my thriller feature, Bad Water.
Soon, I got exciting emails from the Shore team: My script made the next cut! I would enjoy a moment of bliss, but then buckle down to read my draft again. I’d fix typos, fine-tune dialog, and submit a new draft before the next round of judging.
I was determined to have my characters and story leap off the page. At the end of the year, I placed as a Top 5 winner. I was elated, and the endorphin kick lasted for a week.