Sunday, December 7, 2014

The 8 Best Screenwriting Contests to Enter in 2015

My list for 5 Screenwriting Contests worth entering in 2014 was a big hit last year, so I decided to do a follow up and amend some of my criteria. I still believe that writers should mainly look for contests with industry connections and to avoid contests with high entry fees, low prize money, and no Hollywood success; but after some more thinking, I felt that I should also just look straight at the prize money too. After all, if you win and you don't end up selling your script, then at least you can hold your head up high with your $10,000 or more check.

The following are my top eight picks for screenwriting contests in 2015.

1. Nicholl Fellowship: This is the most prestigious screenwriting contest that you can win, and even placing in the semi or quarterfinals may give you access to getting read by a Hollywood manager, producer, or agent. The contest is run by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the same people who give out the Oscars), and it has uncovered such screenwriters as Susannah Grant, Ehren Kruger, and Andrew Marlowe. Not only will winning a Nicholl give you bragging rights for life, but the prize is a fellowship of $35,000, which gives you one year to complete at least one more original feature film screenplay. Five winners are chosen. If you are limited on money and can only enter one contest this year, this is the one.

2. Universal Pictures Fellowship: This fellowship is similar to ABC Disney's former screenwriting program in that it grooms writers to enter Hollywood and is sponsored by a major entertainment entity. While this contest is free to enter, the most difficult aspect (besides just having an amazing script) is that it requires letters of recommendations from industry professionals. That may be a barrier for those who aren't in Hollywood, but if that's not a problem, then I highly recommend applying:

3. Bluecat Screenplay Contest: I was a finalist for this contest in 2010, and after winning, the head of the contest, Gordy Hoffman, was kind enough to meet with me and give me notes and I was also contacted by independent producers who heard about my placement. In addition to its professional benefits, the cash prizes are pretty high. The grand prize winner receives $15,000 and finalists each receive $2500. But what truly distinguishes this contest from all others is that ALL ENTRANTS receive script analysis. Buying this service from professionals would cost you at least $50, so the fact that it’s included in the entry fee is an amazing deal.

 4. Script Pipeline: In 2010, I was a grand prize winner of the contest, and I had a great experience with it. Immediately after winning, I was read by various managers and production companies, and even though a few years have passed, Script Pipeline still sends me writing opportunities and shares my work with production companies. Plus, I also received other goodies such as writing software and a subscription to their Writers Database. It looks like recent winners will receive those same benefits, but now the grand prize is huge--$20,000! Also, I recommend their coverage service, which costs extra but is worth it. I find their readers to be very insightful.

5. TrackingB: TrackingB is a relatively new screenplay contest (it was started in 2007). Although its entry fee is high ($75-$125) and there is no prize money, its batting average for the success of its winners is incredible and it has a good reputation amongst writers. For instance, my friend was a finalist for TrackingB, and although she had placed in other contests, it was TrackingB that led to her getting signed by a major Hollywood management company. The other benefit to entering this contest is that if you enter two scripts or more, they give you free access to the website for one year. If you’re not too familiar with the site, it provides Hollywood job listings, script sales, industry news, and other information you would probably not know unless you worked in the industry.

6. Page International Screenplay Awards: The grand prize is $25,000. Enough said.

7. Final Draft’s Big Break Screenplay Contest: The Feature Grand Prize is $15,000 plus a ton of swag, which includes a fancy awards ceremony, an Ipad, and script coverage.

8. Scriptapalooza: The first place winner gets $10,000, and each script is read by either a production company, manager, or agent.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mark Wahlberg's past is even worse than what we thought

Mark Wahlberg (courtesy of FanPop)
By asking for his record to be pardoned, Mark Wahlberg put his violent past as a young adult back into the spotlight. As I previously blogged, 16-year-old Wahlberg assaulted in Asian man with a wood stick, knocking him unconscious. Later on that night on April 8, 1988, he assaulted a second Asian man while slurring things such as "slant eyed" and "gook." The second man's beating was so brutal that he lost his eye. Twenty-six years later, movie star Wahlberg is asking Massachusetts for an official pardon.

After doing more research, other disturbing details about Wahlberg have emerged.

In 2006, ABC interviewed Wahlberg to see if he had ever contacted the man who he blinded to make amends, and he admitted that he hadn't. "I did a lot of things that I regretted and I certainly paid for my mistakes," Wahlberg says. "You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn't until I really started doing good and doing right, by other people as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don't have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning."

It's, um, nice that he doesn't have a problem sleeping at night, but what about his victims? How is he sleeping so well without ever asking them how they were after his abuse?

Before the attack on the Asian men,  a teenage Wahlberg and his white friends followed Jesse Coleman, a twelve-year-old African-American boy and his brother and sister who were walking home in Dorchester, Massachusetts on June 15, 1986. One of Wahlberg's friends yelled to the Colemans, "We don't like n*ggers in the area so get the fuck away from the area." Wahlberg and his friends then chased the Colemans, who by now were fleeing scared, and the white boys pelted rocks at the Colemans while all yelling "Kill the n*gger, kill the n*gger." Finally the Colemans ran inside of a Burger King, and Wahlberg and his friends left.

The next day, Jesse Coleman, his teacher, and other classmates took a field trip to the beach. While there, Coleman saw Wahlberg and his friends. As the class returned back to school, Wahlberg and his buddies followed Coleman and threw rocks at him, his teacher, and his classmates. The teacher called an ambulance which scared the boys away, and in the legal document, Coleman along with numerous others stated that they were fearful of Wahlberg and his friends.

On The Smoking Gun's comment section, a woman stated that she was related to one of the victims. She said that the victim was still emotionally and physically scared by Wahlberg's bullying. I attempted to reach her to find out if Wahlberg had ever attempted to reconcile his behavior, but I have yet to receive a response. However, I was able to confirm a link between her and one of the victims listed in the legal document.


Wahlberg's violence didn't end as a teenager, after he destroyed a man's eye, or after serving time, like he has so often claimed in the press. Even fame didn't stop his violence. When he was 21 and known to the world as "Marky Mark," he was arrested for viciously kicking the shit out of his neighbor, and according to the court document, he did this "without provocation or cause"from the victim. Wahlberg kicked his victim in the face, which left injuries so severe that the victim had to have his jaw wired shut.

Are we seeing a pattern here? And these are from the times he was actually arrested. I contacted Wahlberg for a statement, but he has not yet to respond.


In December of 2014, Wahlberg applied for an official pardon, and many people have wondered. Why was his record not expunged if his discretions happened as a teenager? Why is he applying for pardon now?

In Wahlberg's pardon application, he addressed these questions. The document stated that although Wahlberg was a juvenile, he was tried in adult court. He stated he plead not guilty but that a guilty verdict was entered because he had confessed to facts that sustained the charge. He chose not to appeal, even though he had the right to. He cited that it was a violation of him to be charged as an adult.

Wahlberg went on to say that the "more complex" answer of why he wants a pardon was that he wants recognition that he is a different person from the night of the attack. He hopes that if he obtains a pardon, this will inspire and motivate troubled youths that they too can change. This sounds noble on the surface, yet, it really doesn't make any sense. He's already a wealthy entertainment icon, and people look up to him. It doesn't seem like his criminal past is hurting him. In fact, he often talks about it in his media appearances as if he's proud of his Cinderella story.

He also said the other reason for the pardon was that because of his past he cannot work for law enforcement agencies to help at-risk youth. He stated he's ineligible for jobs such as a parole officer. Huh? Does it make any sense that a man who lists numerous philanthropic endeavors with troubled youth needs to get hired by the LAPD? Is his other jobs of being a millionaire actor and producer not enough? This is the guy whose life is literally the basis for HBO's Entourage.

No, those noble reasons don't make as much sense as the one that having a criminal record impacts his ability to make money outside of the entertainment industry. According to his pardon application, "…My past convictions still legally impact me to this day. For example, prior record can potentially be the basis to deny me a concessionaire's license in California and elsewhere." Well, losing an eye and living in fear because a white man called you a "n*gger" during your childhood can hurt your future earnings too, so this argument isn't strong enough, no matter how many decades have past. Plus it should also be noted that he never mentioned that he deserves a pardon because he did right to the victims because oh wait, he never did.
Excerpt from Mark Wahlberg's Pardon Application, posted by NBC Bay Area 

The Smoking Gun:
The Smoking Gun:
The Daily T.Lo:
The Week:
NBC-Bay Area: 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Mark Wahlberg beat an Asian man so hard that he lost an eye, wants a pardon

I force myself to try to separate entertainment from the human beings underneath, but sometimes, I  get annoyed knowing that some stars seem to never be held accountable for their lascivious actions while there are normal people in the United States who get murdered for selling loose cigarettes or walking around at night in a hoodie. I suppose that I'm just ranting, but this headline from The Week this morning really got to me.

"Mark Wahlberg Should Not Be Pardoned."

I agree with the article and the headline, but it was the fact that Mark Wahlberg was requesting a pardon that really irked me. For those who do not know the back story, when Mark Wahlberg was 16 he drunkenly beat an Asian immigrant with a wooden stick until the man fell to the ground, unconscious. Later that same night, he found another Asian man that he called "gook" and "slant eye," and he beat that man so hard in the face that he LOST HIS RIGHT EYE.

Mark was arrested, convicted, and served 45 days in jail. This year, twenty-six years later, he applied for an official pardon because he changed his life and spent the rest of his days serving the community. On his pardon application, he stated that he believes the story of his turnaround will inspire others to do the same.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mark Wahlberg is an inspiration to many for his work in the arts and his philanthropy, and although I've never met him, he seems like a nice, humble guy. But a pardon should not be granted because his violent action, no matter if drunk or high, no matter if young, should never be forgotten. He didn't steal a loaf of bread, make moonshine, or get in a fist fight. He violently beat two strangers and nearly cost them their lives, and he left one of them with a visible, physical reminder of that horrific night 26 years ago. Although America may be laughing along at Ted or Pain and Gain, I really doubt his victims are.

No, Mark Wahlberg, Roman Polanski, Mike Tyson, and celebs who were never formally convicted. Time does not erase your reprehensible actions. The fact that he thinks Hollywood success deserves an earning of forgiveness, not him trying to make right with the victims, their families, and the Asian community says a ton about how fucking entitled and insensitive successful people are. Pardons are rarely given, and if they are, they are for non-violent offenses.

Even if his victims forgave him, which there is no evidence that they have, Wahlberg shouldn't have asked to wipe his slate clean because he doesn't deserve it. No matter how rich, famous, and likeable you've become, you must face your demons, not erase them.

"Mark Wahlbeg should not be pardoned" from The Week