People often believe that to be the next big sensation in the screenwriting world, one needs to start living in Los Angeles or New York. That’s obvious because they hold the titles as entertainment capitals of the world.
However, only while struggling in the cities do they realize that every other screenwriter has done the same. And they find their voices lost in the crowd.
“So how do I get heard?” runs the question in most writers’ minds. While platforms like Udemy and Coursera do have courses on approaching Hollywood with your script, many writers prefer screenwriting competitions. For many years, screenwriting competitions are helping screenwriters to get exposure, recognition, and even some money, if scripts are worth it.
How have screenwriting competitions come to help screenwriters?
The 1910s was an excellent time for the United States cinema as, by this time, there were ten thousand movie theatres. People started enjoying cinema a lot, and more people wanted to be a part of it.
Emerging storytellers would write their own scripts, and the film industry was bombarded with these submissions. The film industry used this phenomenon to their advantage, and intending to discover talent, they offered a cash prize for the best scenarios. This is how screenwriting competitions came into being.
These competitions are a great way to get your script read, and of course, it is always productive when you have a deadline. But just like some script coverage services, these competitions are not something that has worked in favor of all writers, as there has been some controversy surrounding them.
While most people would agree that a couple of these competitions do actually help writers in their careers, a considerable amount of other competitions are nothing but a business to prey on budding writers.
Not every aspiring writer can join an academic screenwriting program or a film school to learn filmmaking.
In this article, let us briefly look at two of the popular screenwriting platforms to submit to festivals, competitions, and the buzz surrounding them.
Prior to FilmFreeway, the filmmakers were going to Withoutabox for submission. When Filmfreeway came along in 2014, it was like a better version of Withoutabox – free, easy, and convenient.
In just 3 months, FilmFreeway was able to send over 5000 applications, and today, it stands as the fastest growing service for online submissions of films. It doesn’t matter what genre or how long your film is; they are extremely flexible in their application process..
The success of FilmFreeway doesn’t exactly owe it to the fall of Withoutabox, but instead, we can say that FilmFreeway is the reason behind the fall of Withoutabox.
Filmmakers and festivals were growing frustrated with the experience with Withoutabox, including its pricing and poor customer support. It was with these critics, the young Canadian company, FilmFreeway, saw an opportunity to compete against the Withoutabox monopoly.
What do people think of FilmFreeway?
FilmFreeway is loved among filmmakers and festivals alike. The secret to totally transforming the film festival submissions perhaps lies with the easy and free user experience and fast customer response.
Yet, if you sit down looking for an answer about whether FilmFreeway is worth it, you will find mixed reviews. While some of the reviews will tell you how FilmFreeway is full of scammers – some festivals are fake, or your film getting rejected without actually viewing- some people had good experiences as well.
FilmFreeway has helped many people submit to cheaper film festivals while also letting them submit to multiple festivals at once.
Coverfly is a leading online platform that aims to bring scriptwriters a whole lot closer to their dream – Hollywood.
Coverfly serves as a dashboard for three types of audiences- writers, festivals, and industries. It is entirely free to use. With a specially designed metric called Coverfly Score, the platform evaluates the projects.
Coverfly has gained overwhelming popularity just after the launch of their writer’s dashboard, followed by people finding their metric system to be unreasonable. While writers have often called out Coverfly’s business model to be predatory, some other writers have also shared their success stories with it.
How is Coverfly different from a regular script coverage service?
While Coverfly is not entirely free for festivals and competitions, they do, however, charge lower than other platforms.
For example, FilmFreeway and Withoutabox charge 8.5%, while Coverfly only charges 5%. With more features like the normalization of scores, Coverfly tries to make fair judgments.
Pros of Coverfly
Coverfly is entirely free for the writers, allowing them to submit unlimited scripts. Coverfly has an extensive database of successful writers with a good amount of experience. One of the recent successful screenwriters is Chaz Hawkins, who currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Three months after graduating from film school, Chaz came to the industry during the odd times. Not only was the ongoing pandemic proving to be a barrier for his career, but also the civil rights movement and the economic downturn had made things even harder for him.
Even though Chaz was graduating from Loyola Marymount University, he was asked not to expect much considering the hard times. While joining Coverfly, Chaz just wished to get noticed by someone to start his career.
But while the pandemic had the whole Hollywood action shut off, he not only got visibility through Coverfly but also sold two screenplays, The Sauce and Plimoth.
What should you do?
Entering a film industry like Hollywood is the dream of many, and it takes perseverance, patience, and hard work to get a break in it.
While there are so many controversies regarding online platforms like FilmFreeway and Coverfly, for some others, it is the only way up despite all the odds. If you have the money, there’s no harm in applying at all.
Many others value the platforms because they have experienced worse alternatives. After all, that’s what we mean when we say, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
This might not rhyme with these two platforms from every angle but you have to keep that in mind while applying and trying to sell your screenplay.
Let me know what’s your experience with platforms like FilmFreeway and Coverfly.