by Lucy Leitner
In the Pittsburgh creative community, it’s Sunday the 13th that matters. While a terrible day for triskaidekaphobiacs, this Sunday, January 13 of the year 2013 is a great day for aspiring screenwriters with the deadline for the annual Steeltown Film Factory competition. For this Sunday is the day when they get the piece of mind that comes with sending a completed 12-page script with the hope that their story will earn up to $30,000 to make it come to life. And, even if it doesn’t garner the monetary prize, that their short screenplays will at least receive the invaluable criticism from industry professionals.
Few competitions offer the opportunity for contestants to have their work read and analyzed by Promised Land producer Chris Moore as an ancillary benefit. Usually you have to submit your script to Readers Unlimited to even get one of Asher Garfinkel’s employees to read it. Last year, Garfinkel judged the semi-finalists. Usually Oscar winners like Precious screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher don’t just critique unsolicited manuscripts. And rarely are writing contest entrants given the opportunity to pitch their scripts to a captive audience that includes 300 producer Bernie Goldman.
Trailer for 2011 winner Roll the Dice
Aside from receiving criticism from top Pittsburgh-born (with the exception of Moore) industry luminaries, the winner (or winners, as was the case in last year’s competition) receive a portion of the $30,000 prize to turn their script into a short film. The sponsoring Steeltown Entertainment Project assists both winners and also-rans with production logistics in the hope that someday these contestants will someday be up on the judging panel.
The point of the competition is to locate and cultivate local talent and providing an incentive for staying here rather than running to Los Angeles. Everyone has a story, but not everyone gets the opportunity to tell it. Instead of forcing the amateurs to travel across the country and get lost in a veritable sea of aspiring screenwriters, the Film Factory brings the industry back to Pittsburgh.
And that is an opportunity not to be missed.
There is still time to submit your 12-page script at http://www.steeltownfilmfactory.org/. Entries are technically due this Sunday, but the contest is still open for submissions until Tuesday, Jan. 15 for an extra $10 added to the $50 standard entry fee.
The idea behind the contest is to build a sustainable industry around movies. Not by wind power, but by keeping local talent in Pittsburgh. More of a creative kibbutz rather than an economy based solely on exports to Los Angeles. To create an environment where Christopher Nolan would want to return to film big-budget blockbusters and first-time directors like Cary Hill can make low-budget horror like Scream Park. To make “entertainment the new steel.” Though we’ll probably never get a second football team called the Entertainers or Filmers, this contest helps solidify our status as Hollywood East.
Learn more about the contest and submit at http://www.steeltownfilmfactory.org/
Check out behind the scenes footage of last year’s winner The Perils of Being Flat Chested.