Today we announced the winners of the 2016 WeScreenplay Feature Contest, our flagship screenwriting competition that hands out twenty thousand dollars in prizes and launches the careers of undiscovered talent. We’re thrilled to discover the grand-prize winning script FORGED by Kenlon Clark and William Rubio, and to spotlight the winners.
One of the top finalists is noteworthy, and deserves a bit of explanation:
Last week, we sent out an email to our 26 finalists in the competition asking for written confirmation that they are, in fact, eligible to win the contest. That means that the writer cannot have earned more than $35,000 from professional screenwriting in the past 18 months. While sending out the emails, we noticed one submitter in particular under the name of Orson Scott Card. Sound familiar? Yep, that Orson Scott Card, the acclaimed novelist and author of the beloved and award-winning novel Ender’s Game.
This presented us with a bit of a predicament. On one hand, Mr. Card is technically eligible, according to the rules, to win the competition, as he is a novelist and he has not earned more than $35,000 in the past 18 months as a screenwriter. Furthermore, his script’s finalist ranking was fair and square, per our judging process.
A bit about our judging process: WeScreenplay’s automated evaluation process is facilitated by Coverfly, a software platform for automating screenplay contest administration. Every script receives at least two sets of scores from two different WeScreenplay judges (all of whom have experience reading for a major Hollywood studio, production company or literary agency). The scores are blind – the readers do not know who the writer is. The scores are then normalized to account for potential reader bias and weighted according to our algorithm, and then averaged together to give us a final overall score, which we use to determine the top finalists at each round. This process also limits any bias from administrators, who may otherwise have their own opinions about what writers or scripts should advance. In other words, WeScreenplay’s contests make their selections based strictly on which scripts perform best according to their normalized scores from multiple readers.
Mr. Card’s script MESA 1966, through five rounds of reads, and completely anonymous to judges, received the second highest overall score in the entire competition, just behind the grand-prize winning script FORGED by Kenlon Clark and William Rubio.
We contacted Mr. Card and he clarified that he entered the contest because he considered himself a novice screenwriter and that he valued the two sets of notes that he got back from the anonymous judges, however he expressed that he did not want to detract from attention to other talented finalists. We’re excited to discover Mr. Card’s excellent screenplay as the 2nd place winner in this contest, and because of Mr. Card’s previous accomplishments as a professional writer, we’ve added a sixth winner to the (previously 5) winners so that nobody is displaced by Mr. Card’s participation in the competition.
We’re also very pleased that Mr. Card had some great things to say about WeScreenplay’s readers, mentioning in one of his emails to us that the feedback on his script from judges was “far, far better than the cliché nonsense I got used to hearing from all but a handful of executives and producers; it was clear that the judges actually know what a story IS, and they offered useful, intelligent, clear suggestions about approaches that might work to improve the script. Not to improve the script's chances of selling, mind you, but to improve the script's ability to serve as the blueprint for a very good film.”
We’re excited to be able to announce the five talented winners alongside Mr. Card – a name any writer would be thrilled to be mentioned with on the same list. We’re confident that these screenwriters have a bright future career, and we look forward to sharing their scripts with our network of agents, managers, producers and studio executives. Congratulations to these finalists, and thank you to all the talented writers who submitted to this year’s competition!