Thursday, December 01, 2011


Over 1,000 submissions, and it all comes down to this. The best of the best! The Writers on the Storm top ten. And boy, what an interesting batch it is... a creepy-cool zombie script, a hard-boiled '40s detective story with an African-American protagonist, a WWII sea battle epic, a cave collapse horror movie, a Western, a movie about a young wheelman, and even a comedy about the Wright Bros. first flight (seriously.) Talk about apples and oranges.

And yet through it all, one script clearly shone through. Our winning script is what all of us aspire to in a spec script -- a cool concept, tight execution, screenwriting "voice" clearly on display. But most of all, it's a page-turner. You're enjoying the read so much, you're compelled to keep reading. That's the sign of a winner -- a script that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. Doesn't matter what the genre is.

And thus it is with enormous pleasure that we annouce the WINNER of Writers on the Storm 2011:

Elms + Sanders are in the "Wright"
WINNER: WRIGHT OR WRONG by Glenn Sanders + Brooks Elms.  What a fun script! These writers have pulled off something insanely difficult -- they've written a period-piece comedy that will turn heads. This nutty, goofball script stars none other than Orville and Wilbur Wright, reimagining them as stubborn, contentious, charming dopes. The writers brilliantly set the tone on the very first page with this intro: "THE FOLLOWING FILM, WHILE BASED ON REAL EVENTS, IS A RABID PACK OF LIES." What follows is 109 pages of character-driven hilarity. When the feuding brothers finally set aside their differences and make that famous flight, your heart soars right along with them. We're very excited to be working with Glenn and Brooks. Big things are ahead for these guys. As the brothers themselves oft say in the script, Excelsior!

SECOND PLACE: A SHIP THROUGH FIRE by John Winn Miller. A crackerjack, old-school swashbuckling adventure epic about a smuggler trying to deliver his precious cargo safely while chased by a vengeful Nazi U-Boat captain. The cargo: Jews. A thrilling read and again, a page-turner, peppered with terrific, layered characterizations and literary references. The sea-going action is dynamic and the twists -- such as the beleaguered crew mutinying -- keep every page tense. The writing, too, is crisp and lean. Mr. Miller put a lot of work into this one through many drafts (we know because he's been developing this one using CI for coverage for some time!) and it has paid off big-time.

THIRD PLACE: THE BENEATH by T.J. Cimfel. What could be worse than a mine accident and realizing your husband is trapped inside? How about realizing that there may be something else down there with him? Cimfel's script is a marvel -- that rare horror/thriller where the characters are fully developed, the dialogue crackerjack. Protagonist Abby has high personal stakes and we love her go-getter attitude as she relentlessly drives the rescue mission, unaware of the horrors that await.

And while not everyone can make it to the top three, let's hear it once more for the rest of our top ten: Alison McMahan, Louise Ransil, Andy Maycock, Charles Mitri, Josh Flanagan, Alexis Lane and Travis Heerman + Jim Pinto. 

We'll be contacting all of our top ten about setting up the consultations and delivering the prizes. Now begins the development phase! What, you thought you were getting off easy? All of these scripts have coverage and consultations as part of the prize. Whether or not anyone in the industry responds to these scripts is up to how much you bring it over the next couple months. Are you going to coast on the current draft, or are you going to dig in and freaking bulletproof your material so that it hits like an atom bomb?

Thanks again to everyone who participated in Writers on the Storm this year. Needless to say, we will be back...

Jim C.

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Anonymous said...

Im mildly dismayed to see another haunted mine script in the top 3. Might be a good read, but the concept is far from refreshing. Anyway, no offence, congrats to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
And to quote one of my least favorite people, Blake Snyder, "I think screenwriting contests are a colossal waste of time" (Pg. 173 "Save The Cat") - Maybe. Maybe not. But have to admit, of the dozen or so WGA writers I know, not one of them has ever even entered a screenwriting contest, let alone won one".

Admin said...

Yes, "Black Damp" was one of our finalists a few years back, but fortunately those two scripts have few other similarities. hey, there are a million haunted house movies and a million werewolf, zombie, vampire, etc., and they're all exactly the same. So ultimately, a haunted mine - again? Sure, why not?


Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous #2:

Point #1 -- Screenwriting contests have only gained real prominence over the past decade. If you know writers who were coming up before that, they weren't likely to have had much access to competitions.

Point #2 -- Anyone looking at contests as the Fast Train to Success is missing the point. They are great motivating factors and learning experiences for new and developing writers.

I personally know DOZENS of WGA writers. A number of the newer ones have, at some point, entered contests.

And yes, winning or not winning didn't do a lot for them...but contests encouraged them to take a step back from their material and evaluate it in a way that helped them to bring it up to the next level.

Admin said...

Good point, Anon #4! So many writers think their stuff is good to go, when in reality, it ain't. It always boggles my mind how with our contest or the CS Open, that is the first exposure so many of them have to getting any sort of feedback on their script. Not to plug Coverage Ink, but seriously, there are lots of coverage companies and even free options like Trigger Street, so it's a little baffling. And there are also plenty of writers we've seen who take our notes and then... do nothing. That's their option, of course, but at some point if you're not getting where you want to be with your writing, getting objective feedback is a great place to start.

Jim C.