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Cor, will you look at that? The first week of July already. Which means that there's only 3 weeks 'till the deadline for this year's Red Planet Prize. The entries are already flooding in, which is great, but no doubt there's still many of you tinkering with your first ten pages and holding out on pressing 'send' until the final minute (which is also cool and the gang, naturally).
In case you don't already know, this year we're partnered with the mighty Kudos Film & TV and yesterday we met on their roof (really) to discuss how this year's comp is going to go down. I thought it might be handy to post some general pointers about submitting an entry, and go over some useful do's and don't's about what makes a cracking first ten pages.
THE FIRST TEN PAGES
The best bit of advice about your first ten pages is to ignore the so-called rules of how to begin a script. Instead, try to be happy and confident that this is the best way to begin your STORY. Great scripts always have a style and assurance about them that tell the reader/editor/exec that this writer can spin a yarn, and they should stick around to see what's going to happen. More than that, they're already interested in what's going to happen. You don't have to be clever or cute, just tell your story. It doesn't have to be a car crash or a big bang; it could be a slow-burner of mood or intrigue - but as long as it's clear and inviting, and the writing's confident and assured, then the script is always going to stand out from the crowd.
More thoughts on 'first ten pages' here and there's an overview of last year's entries here, writing tips from Tony Jordan's workshop here, and even more about the beginnings of scripts here. There's an overview of the first year's entries here, not to mention the top 10 cliched ways to begin your script here.
This year’s competition is for an original 60 minute television script, either a single play or a pilot for a new series. You are initially required to submit the first ten pages along with a short synopsis. THIS SYNOPSIS COULD BE OF THE PILOT SCRIPT OR THE ENTIRE SERIES, whatever you think best sells the idea/script/show. The full script should be available on request, you may be required to submit this WITHIN A MONTH OF THE FINAL CLOSING DATE. This means that we'll be asking for second round scripts by the end of August.
Multiple entries are not allowed. You can, however, have a maximum of two entries if you submit one script by yourself and one with a co-writing team. Please don't send full scripts at the first ten pages stage. Similarly, don't send 12 pages or 8 pages of script. Send the first ten pages, regardless of where it cuts off in the scene. The competition is open to anyone in the UK & Ireland. For full rules and information, check out the website.
The scripts can be in any genre. Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama, Thriller, Psychological, Supernatural, whatever floats your boat. Please don't send us half hour scripts, sitcoms or feature film scripts. Remember, we're looking for an original 60 minute television script, either a single play or a pilot for a new series.
** UPDATE ** If you're unsure how long your script should be, anything between 50-70 pages is a good ballpark. Anything less or more than 50 or 70, you've probably gone too under/over an hour.
Ideally, scripts should be written in standard screenplay format, which means they should be typed in Courier pt12 font and with appropriate tabs/margins for character names, dialogue and scene description. It just looks more professional that way. We're not going to reject any script based on its format. We're interested in good writing and great scripts, no matter what the form, but as a general observation, poorly formatted scripts usually mean poorly written screenplays.
Celtx is free screenwriting software. Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter are what the professionals use, but you can easily format a script on MS Word, too, either by setting your own margins/font or downloading their template.
It's probably not a good idea to send us a script that's optioned with another company. While it may be a good representation of your writing, it's just going to get a tad awkward if you get past the second round stage with a script that's in development somewhere else. If your script gets optioned by someone while we're reading it for the competition, then let us know, as that's better for everyone involved.
That just about covers everything, I think. Any questions, just shout, and good luck!