The Table Read My Screenplay – Screenplay Contest will help you to propel your screenwriting forward with a career-launching Table Read showcase experience during the Austin Film Festival and Writers Conference this October.
Both the Grand Prize Winner and ISA Austin Writer Award Winner will gain exposure through a live Table Read during the Austin Film Festival, then have access to 8 days of festival events. As an elite member of the ISA Development Slate, the Career Development team will work with you for a minimum of 1 year to continue getting you and your script in front of more producers, literary representatives and other industry executives from companies like Lakeshore Ent., Gidden Media, ICM, and others.
You must submit SHORTS and WEB SERIES on the Table Read site only.
SHORT OR WEB SERIES PILOT - TOP 25
First 20 Pages Feedback (1-2 Pages) – So much of the opportunity available to your script is spent within the first twenty pages. You need to make sure the hook, teaser, cold open grabs the reader and presents you like it should. This analysis will give you those answers.
General Feedback (2-3 Pages) – You know your work inside and out, now it’s time to get a second opinion. We’ll read your full script, and you’ll receive a detailed personalized critique on what we see, what we think, and suggestions on where to go next.
Extensive Feedback (Up to 5 Pages) – For those looking for an extensive breakdown of the inner-workings of their creative material. Writers who select this Analysis will receive suggestions on how to improve overall writing, story, structure, characters, pacing, stakes, climax and resolution, specific problem scenes, tone and overall commercial appeal.
Q: How do I enter Table Read My Screenplay – AUSTIN?
A: Complete the form on the SUBMIT ENTRY page.
Q: How do I enter for one of the other cities?
A: Only one Table Read My Screenplay competition is held at any time. Our next host city will be announced at a later date.
Q: What forms of payment do you accept?
A: We accept all payments through PayPal, however you do not need a PayPal account to use it. Once you are taken to the payment page, you can select “Pay by Credit/Debit Card.”
Q: Do you accept check or money order by mail.
A: No; all payments must be made through PayPal.
Q: I would like to mail you a hardcopy of my script. How can I do that?
A: In an effort to maintain a green company, we only accept screenplays and teleplays through our website or one of our partner websites (the ISA, FilmFreeway, WithoutABox).
Q: Should I include my contact information on my title page?
A: If you choose to do so, you may include your contact information on the title page, but it does not affect judging either way if you choose not to include it.
Q: Who will be reading my screenplay/judging the contest?
A: The final panel of judges will be comprised of screenwriting and other industry professionals, including but not limited to producers, managers and established writers.
Q: If I win will you fly me to Austin?
A: It depends which category you enter:
The Grand Prize Winner will receive coach airfare and accommodations resulting in a three-night stay.
The Shorts Prize Winner will receive $750, which can be put toward airfare if they wish to attend; TRMS will not book the flight for the Short Prize Winner.
Q: Can I enter my Short script as a Pilot?
A: You may enter your script however you wish, however our judges will be looking for formatting and structural techniques that are unique to each medium.
Q: When is the Table Read?
A: The Grand Prize Showcase reading will be held during the Austin Film Festival in October. The exact date is still TBD. If the final date as selected by TRMS does not work for the winner, TRMS will not provide any cash value matching for the non-accepted airfare and hotel. We will be as flexible as possible, but the ultimate decision resides solely with TRMS.
Q: Can we gift the AFF Producers Badge to someone else?
A. The AFF Producers Badge is not transferrable, and is forfeited if you decide not to attend.
Q: How does the Grand Prize Winner participate in the Table Read itself?
A: You sit back, relax, and observe as a director works scenes from your winning screenplay with the actors in preparation for the showcase of your first 20 pages. We will also do a full table read of your script. There you can take a few notes of what’s working and what might need some tweaking. We encourage you to watch the process rather than reading off the script because you will get to listen again when you receive the recording.
Q: Does the Shorts Prize Winner receive a Table Read?
A: The Shorts Winner will receive a live recording of their Table Read, which will be posted on ISA’s Curious About Screenwriting Network and provided to the ISA’s list of Industry Professionals.
Q: Do I maintain the rights to my screenplay?
A: YES, you retain all the rights to your screenplay. Table Read My Screenplay seeks to support and empower writers, rather than claim their hard work for ourselves. If we select your script for recognition, you agree to grant us the right to hold a live Table Read and promote your success, but the script itself is still yours.
Q: Do I need to submit a Synopsis?
A: Synopses are not required, and are not considered during the judging process.
Q: Can I submit a screenplay under a pen name?
A: Yes, you may use whatever name you wish, understanding that this is the name TRMS and the ISA will use to promote your script, should you win.
Q: Does my screenplay have to be registered with the Writers’ Guild or another organization?
A: No, but we do recommend registering your work with the WGA West, the Library of Congress Copyright office or other similar organization in your country. It’s really easy and a VERY smart thing to do.
Q: Is an adaptation of a published novel or other work written by someone else eligible?
A: You must have the legal rights to adapt the book to enter your screenplay. Either the original work must be in the public domain, or you must have the author’s permission to adapt it. Spec scripts without written permission will not be considered.
Q: Can I send you a revised copy of my script?
A: Once we have received your entry, you have 24 hours to contact us about any replacements you need to make. After the 24-hour period is through, NO script revisions will be accepted FOR ANY REASON. If you would like to enter a revised version of your screenplay, you may do so as a new entry.
Q: Can I make changes to my genre or logline?
A: Yes, you may change your listed genre or logline at any time; simply e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about the change. Once the contest is closed, we will not be able to make any changes.
Q: What stops you from taking my idea and developing it yourself?
A: Our panel of judges is comprised of respected industry professionals, and they have no intention of stealing your material. If you make it to the Semi-Finalist round, your work will be seen by these professionals, which in turn, gets you one step closer to getting your screenplay produced. You can sit at home and protect your ideas all day long hoping for that one right person to come along, or you can get your work out there and show us what you’ve got!
SHORTS AND WEB SERIES
Q: Do you accept Web Series?
A: Yes, Web Series will be considered for the Shorts Prize and should be entered as such. However, we will only consider the “Pilot” episode of your Web Series.
Q: What about series intended for streaming (Netflix, Hulu, ABC Digital, etc.)
A: Generally-speaking it depends on script length; any Pilot over 20 Pages should be entered as a TV Pilot (like Stranger Things, Catastrophe, etc). Series with shorter episodes like Forever 31 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot should be entered as Shorts.
Q: Be honest: can TV Pilots actually win the Grand Prize?
A. Yes, Features and Pilots compete for the same prize, and we judge each on its own merits within its medium; TV Pilots have won in the past.
Q: What’s the minimum/maximum required page length?
A: Guidelines for suggested page lengths:
Features: 70 to 130 Pages
TV Pilots: 20 to 70 Pages
Shorts: 1 to 40 Pages
Web Series: 1 to 20 Pages
Q: My Feature script is over 130 Pages. Will I be disqualified?
A: Scripts that run over suggested page lengths will not be disqualified; however, extra pages can affect everything from pacing to structure to marketability, so we would advise you to get your script as close as possible to where the industry expects it to be.
Q: Will I be charged more if I go over 130 pages?
A: The entry fee does not change. However, if you purchase feedback, we will need to invoice you $2 per page above 130 for the Reader, who will receive every cent of the additional fee.
Q: Can I enter two scripts in one document?
A: You may enter up to four scripts per entry, but all scripts MUST be in their own individual PDF document.
Q: Can I submit an episode from my series besides the Pilot for consideration?
A: We would advise against this, as our judges consider all TV episodes as if they are the first in the series. No one would read a film script that starts on page 20.
Q: Does the choice of genre matter in my submission?
A: Yes, but only to determine what your goal is for your work; ie, if you submit your script as a Comedy, we would expect it to be funny. All genres are in competition with one another, and there are no genre-specific prizes.
Q: The genre of my script is not an available choice; how should I enter?
A: You should choose the genre that is most closely associated with your script – if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com. That said, we will not consider scripts for documentary, erotica, reality TV or musicals.
Q: Can I submit my screenplay in multiple genres?
A: Yes, you can; however, you will have to pay an entry fee each time as if they were separate scripts. That said, we do not require you to enter any script more than one time. Genre suggestions are simply for guidance.
Q: Can multiple scripts from one writer place in the Top 100 Semifinalists list?
A. Yes, some writers may have more than one script reach the Top 100. Table Read My Screenplay is interested in promoting scripts as well as writers, and as such we choose the Top 100 scripts that we receive to move on to the Semifinals.
Q: Are Shorts part of the Top 100 Semifinalists list?
A: Shorts and Web Series Pilots will be featured onto their own Top 25 Semifinalists list. For all contests prior to 2018, Features, TV Pilots, and Shorts are all featured on the same list.
Q: I don’t live in the United States—am I still eligible?
A: Yes, we accept International entries, but all submissions must be in English.
Q: My country currently cannot do business with the US so I cannot pay; may I receive a waiver?
A: Unfortunately, at this time we cannot grant waivers.
Q: Will you pay for my flight even though I don’t live in the US?
A: Table Read My Screenplay will pay up to $800 for an international flight and $800 for a domestic flight..
Q: If I choose not to fly or stay in your hotel, is there a cash equivalent?
A: No. If you decide not to utilize the flight or hotel, they are simply forfeited.
I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced a script or film about Canadian political espionage before. For that alone, I thought that this script had a uniquely engaging subject matter. While I might have heard rumblings about Quebec’s separatist factions, this script digs deep into the divergence of the political philosophies in that part of Canada. Essentially, there are those who wish Quebec to be self-governed and separate from the rest of the country, and those who wish to keep Canada united under one national banner. Somewhere caught in the middle is Patrick, our protagonist. Clearly, Patrick falls on the side of the Alliance for a Unified Canada, but when he is being used as a pawn for their less-than-above-the-board leadership, his return to his RCMP roots is inevitable. I liked that the writer had a pretty clear way of presenting the political dichotomy, and also that he did a good job of showing that Patrick was between a rock and a hard place. As a protagonist, Patrick worked for me, because he didn’t relish his return to police espionage, but I believed that he didn’t have much of a choice, and that his motives for involvement as a sort-of spy were pure. In other words, I trusted him – which, I would assume, is exactly what the writer was going for.
I also thought that the writer was quite inventive in his creation of death devices. I loved that the rifles were controlled by scopes and remotes embedded in cameras. In this way, there didn’t even have to be anyone touching the guns in order for them to perform their assassination. Also, this gave plenty of great opportunities for the devices to be used to different ends. The final showdown between English, the political figures, and Patrick, the writer makes great use of these guns in the action. I thought that this scene was really well-paced and well-timed in its placement within the script. The description kept the action clear, and it was fun to follow.
I would have liked to see a bit more action earlier in the script, though. I didn’t feel a strong sense of danger for Patrick until the last 25 pages of the screenplay. I think that one way to heighten the tension would be to do some work on Munroe’s credibility. Since Patrick is already aware, from his run-in at the train station, that English killed Simon, it isn’t much of a stretch for the reader to instantly cotton-on to the fact that Munroe must be in cahoots. When this is revealed in a straightforward manner to the reader, I think that any reader would already know this fact from earlier context clues. I think that he writer could have made this collusion between Munroe and English more of a surprise. I’d rather see this as a powerful revelation, and a useful turning point in the plot. As it is currently written, I feel that it lacks the power for which it has potential.
Besides this, I feel that the writer didn’t do the necessary work in the plot to maximize the presence of Monique in Patrick’s life. Although we meet her in the second act as a waitress who piques Patrick’s interest, her agency in the events of the plot are minimal until the very last moment. There isn’t any work done by the writer to develop a relationship or a connection between these two characters. When Patrick asks Monique to take him out on the town, I felt that this was coming out of nowhere, and was slowing down the action of the main plot. In the middle of all this life-threatening danger, Patrick was dragging a cute waitress into the action? Why would he lose focus like this at such a vital moment? I felt that their relationship and their trust should have been developed in the first act, or at least earlier in the second act to make her involvement carry more weight. In this draft, when she is revealed as an agent, the double-cross doesn’t hold much emotional punch. Patrick barely knows her, and we have no sense that she has earned his trust before she turns around and betrays him. In other words, I didn’t feel any disappointment, but I think that I should have.
Finally, I had a hard time getting into the story in the beginning, because I was confused by the writer’s choice to cut between Patrick’s classroom in 1991, and actions that English performs in 1990. I didn’t understand why the timeline was shuffled in this manner, or in what way this was benefitting the telling of the plot. Also, I thought that Patrick’s lesson on the political unrest in Quebec went on too long. It is usually not beneficial to start off an action film with too much of a history lesson. I had to trudge through these opening scenes before I was able to settle in and enjoy the rest of the story.
Genre: Television Pilot/Episode
TreatmentsIn the beginning, I was excited about this concept. I thought it might end up being something that sort of falls between “Hung” and “Entourage,” in that it deals with the world of taboo sexuality (in this case, porn), and the politics of Hollywood. I felt that the set up was fairly strong. Quinn, after winning Best Newcomer (a pun if ever there was one!) at Tribeca, finds that his career isn’t exactly taking the rocket trajectory he’d hoped. In order to pay back some of the debt incurred from making his independent film, he is forced to sell out his skill as a producer of pornography. The pilot and the rest of the episodes go on to deal with Quinn’s attempts to get his Plan A back on track, without having anyone discover his Plan B career. So far, so good. Supporting characters include Josh (an up and coming agent, and nephew to Joel Silver), Doug (a hapless editor who can no longer make it happen in bed with his wife), and a long string of women who give great blow jobs…huh? We’ll get back to that in a bit.
I felt that at their best moments, the writers showed a good knack for dialogue and the ins and outs of aspiring Hollywood writers. When Quinn is pursuing his writing dream, I found the scripts and treatments to be at their most believable, but was consistently disappointed that we spent more time chasing this dream than in the much more interesting and unique world of San Fernando Valley porn. I felt that Quinn’s quest to go from indie darling to big name star treads water well covered in the already very popular and established “Entourage.” Also, I felt that the writers may be painting themselves into a corner by hinting that Quinn is so close to realizing his dream. Given that the show is called “Naughty,” and seems to be about the things Quinn is forced to do to make ends meet, I’d like the assurance that we will be seeing more of the porn world. I think this milieu has great potential for comedy. It also doesn’t seem quite as bombastically self-referential as a whole series written about writers. This is much harder to pull off as a comedy. Especially since the scene is, as I said, already sort of mined to its fullest by “Entourage.”
Structurally, I was disappointed that we had to wait until Episode Three to see exactly how Quinn ended up working in porn. I think that rather than begin mid-stream in his fledgling career, it would be funnier to see him learning the ropes of this side of the industry. I wouldn’t have minded seeing the Pilot begin with his interview at The Naughty Network and go from there. This way we would have had a better sense, from the get-go, of Quinn’s character. As it is, I didn’t feel like I had much of a feel for any of the characters until several episodes in.
In terms of content, I think that the writers might be treading dangerous waters sometimes. Granted, networks like Showtime and HBO give writers the ability to include some adult content, but when a character is supposed to be flashing a cell phone pic of a woman with a “cock in her mouth,” I wonder how this is going to play out.
Also, back to the women: I felt like the writers needed to hand their work to no less than three female friends for commentary specifically on the female characters. I got bored with the women in this script very quickly. It seemed that no matter what the woman’s background may have been, she was horny and not afraid to use all the dirty words in the land to describe exactly how horny. None of the female characters seemed to have much purpose outside of giving a heck of a blow job, so after a while, they all started to blend together, and the script started to feel mildly insulting. Given the profession of the males in this series, it might have been interesting to have at least one be a happily married man with a strong female partner, or even to have one of the TNN employees be a professional woman with a plot of their own who worked behind the camera. There needed to be much more thought put into a balance of the sexes here, rather than a smattering of horny broads to provide all the nudity desired given the subject matter.
Finally, I didn’t actually feel that this worked on an episodic level as well as it should have. I felt that the writers failed at giving each episode its own plot arc which would fit into the overall story arc for the season. There wasn’t really much of a beginning, middle and end to each individual episode – one simply picked up where the last one left off, mid-storyline. One way to accomplish this would be to focus on the supporting characters for some of the more episodic plot developments, giving a greater structure to each episode, while Quinn’s impending sale of the script becomes the main overall arc. Sometimes I felt that the writers were trying to accomplish this, but they seldom succeeded, in my opinion. As one last note, I’d like to point out that the writers did not necessarily benefit at this juncture from including so many episode treatments. Treatments for a thirty minute episodic shouldn’t be four pages of solid-block prose, either. I felt that it took me longer than the length of an episode sometimes to wade through one treatment. Treatments should be no more than two pages for an episode, and should be much less dense.
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