I got a notice recently letting me know that my action script had not been chosen as a finalist in a certain screenplay competition.
No sweat. I’ve placed in competitions, but hell yes, I've also been turned down before.
But here’s the thing: this notice included “coverage” from the “first round judge” that “explains the difficult decision” not to include the script in the final round.
Always eager for well-reasoned feedback from professionals, I read the notes immediately.
That’s when I got mad. For a second.
The reader said that the script “is well-structured, moves fast, is briskly and humorously written, keeps you involved and has great dialogue.”
However, he/she was passing because, well, he/she didn’t really like action movies.
He/she felt the main characters were macho types. He/she didn’t understand how people can get shot in the leg and continue on their task instead of going to the hospital. He/she was bothered by the fact that a helicopter was able to approach a speeding motorboat without being heard and wanted to know where the ropes had come from that allowed the heroes to rappel from the chopper.
Can you imagine? A macho-type in an actioner? An ex-special forces soldier getting shot in the leg and actually having the audacity to continue trying to save his abducted mother? The noise of a speeding motorboat at sea obscuring that of a small private chopper? And, mother of God, a rope, the origin of which is not carefully explained???
Um. Are you fucking kidding me? This wasn't a competition with any kind of angle - not a horror competition for example - just supposedly looking for good scripts in any genre. I mean, by all means, pass if it's not any good, but because you don't like the genre?
Like I said, I got mad for a second, and then chuckled to myself and threw the thing in the recycle bin.
Ah well. Let that be a lesson to me. You never know who’s reading your script and can kill it for the silliest reasons.
By the way, the cover form letter sweetly encouraged me to keep trying, because it turns out successful screenplays "often need to be revised several times."
Really. Thanks for that.