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Why Your Screenplay Genre Matters

Many first-time screenwriters ask us what genre they should write.  It is important to understand that “genre” is essentially a marketing tool.  Because a movie is one of the rare goods that we buy before we know what we’re getting, it’s important for the kind of movie to be communicated clearly in the advertising — the poster, the title, the trailer, the movie stars all communicate the genre of a film.  People watch movies for many reasons, but primarily for an enthralling, transportive emotional experience.  Most people have a sense of what kind of story experience they’re looking for as they browse their Netflix queue or local movie theaters.  It’s important to meet (and exceed) the audience’s expectations.  As a screenwriter, it’s definitely OK to blend genres, but it’s important to market your screenplay to producers and reps as a clear-cut single genre.  This is ESPECIALLY true for emerging screenwriters who don’t have a list of produced credits to their name.  So, what’s a good genre to write for a first-time screenwriter?

Every first-time screenwriter should strongly consider writing in these two genres:

Horror & Comedy

Horror and comedy scripts are especially attractive to budget-minded producers. These genres are uniquely marketable with proven audiences. While not every script fits neatly into any one genre, believe me when I say that the final movie will be marketed as a specific genre!
That said, it’s important to write to your strengths.  If horror and comedy simply don’t interest you, that is perfectly fine.  Write what you know you’re good at.  However if you aspire to be a professional screenwriter, there’s no better place for a first time feature screenplay that a young, hungry producer’s slate of low budget films.  Case in point: Roger Corman.  The talented writers, directors and actors that made B-movies for him are the stuff of legends.
We’ve been longtime fans of career coach Lee Jessup.  She has some timely thoughts on “genre” on her blog:
Genre – You’ve gotten notes, implemented feedback, ensured that the work resonates. But it’s still not getting you the sort of traction you had hoped for out there. One possibility? Your genre is not working in your favor. Genre favorability in the industry is a dynamic thing, and can often change year after year. The performance of comedy specs in the 2013 spec market is a prime example. While traditionally comedy specs sold in the top 2-3 genres year after year, in 2013 comedy spec sales completely tanked. While no one is imagining that comedies are now going away, this could be blamed on a number of factors, including Sony, traditionally a comedy-centric studio, sitting out spec sales in 2013. As a result of this, I’ve seen many more writers struggle to gain interest for their comedy scripts this past year. At least for the moment, there is trepidation about the genre and its next evolution in the feature space. Equally, screenplays that are clearly animation are tough to get placed (and have been for years), as those are traditionally developed in-house by animation driven companies such as Pixar and Blue Sky Studios. Elsewhere, we find that straight dramas are difficult to place, as those are so often dependent on elements such as actors and director one can bring to the work in order to create success for the work.
Lee is absolutely correct; genre favorability in Hollywood is a dynamic thing.  Like all with all trends, genre favor comes and goes.  However, through the ups and downs of Hollywood’s fickle trends, some managers specialize in representing specific genre writers.  What we’re seeing now, more than ever, is that independent low-budget films are transforming the marketplace.  And what are the most popular low-budget genres?  Horror and Comedy.
Getting your script produced is the most important step in your career as a screenwriter.  
That’s why ScreenCraft has focused on creating contests for both these genres that feature all-star panels of industry judges.  ScreenCraft offers genre-specific contests because they eliminate the “genre bias” that writers sometimes experience in larger screenwriting competitions.  Is it OK if your script contains elements of several genres? Of course! Is it valuable to present your script to producers and financiers as a specific genre?  YES.
We’re back in 2014 with these exciting panels of judges for both horror and comedy contests, and we look forward to reading your screenplay!

Now accepting SHORT screenplays too!

Jury includes top Hollywood production companies:

  • Mark O’Connor, producer at Green Hat Films (THE HANGOVER, PROJECT X, DUE DATE)
  • Alex Plapinger, executive at Montecito Picture Company (I LOVE YOU MAN, UP IN THE AIR, OLD SCHOOL, NO STRINGS ATTACHED)
  • Billy Wee, executive at Happy Madison (Adam Sandler’s company with such hits as DEUCE BIGALOW: MALE GIGALO, PAUL BLART: MALL COP, ANGER MANAGEMENT, FUNNY PEOPLE, GROWN UPS, THE GOLDBERGS)
  • Dave Rath, manager at Generate (clients: Patton Oswalt, Kyle Kinane)
  • Joe Farrell, executive at Funny or Die (owned by Yahoo and Will Ferrell)
  • Sean Covel, producer (Napoleon Dynamite, Beneath, Broken Hill)
  • Taylor Benzie, manager at Kaplan/Perrone
  • Ben Mekler, staff writer at Nerdist Industries
  • Manager at Mosaic Media Group which represents the industry’s hottest comedy writers and talent, including such comedy giants as: Will Ferrell, Judd Apatow, Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Olivia Munn, Will Forte, Nick Kroll and many more!

Prizes:  

  • First place feature screenplay winner will receive $1,500 cash prize + introduction to agents, managers and producers
    •  Winner will also receive a phone consultation with comedy writer David Mandel (EuroTrip, The Dictator, Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm)!
  • First place comedy SHORT screenplay winner will receive $1,000 + a phone call to discuss your project with Joe Farrell, development exec at FunnyOrDie.com!  
  • Top 5 finalists will receive a page of expert feedback from one of our industry judges.
  • All entries are eligible for optional feedback from a studio-trained professional reader.
  • Early entry fee is only $29.
  • Short screenplay entry fee is only $15. Limit 20 pages. Multiple entries are welcome.

Whether you have a romantic comedy or an action-comedy blockbuster, we want to read your script.  Big or small, we want to read smart movies with strong command of the craft and lots of heart.  Enter today!

ENTER HERE!

Do you have a horror or thriller screenplay?  We’re thrilled to announce the SIX featured judges for our 2nd Annual ScreamCraft Horror Script Contest, in partnership with ShockTillYouDrop.com:We doubled the prize this year to $2,000 and the winner gets a phone consultation with one of Hollywood’s hottest horror filmmakers, writer-director Scott Derrickson (SINISTER, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE)!

Hollywood’s top genre reps and producers are judging this year’s contest:

  • Ryan Turek, founder and editor of popular horror website ShockTillYouDrop.com
  • Scott Henderson, top agent at Paradigm Talent Agency, represents renowned horror filmmakersJames Wan and Leigh Wannell
  • Andrew Wilson, manager at Zero Gravity, represents acclaimed horror writer Clive Barker
  • Amotz Zachai, manager at Echo Lake Management, represents legendary filmmakers including master horror writer-director John Carpenter!
  • Jessica Hall, Senior Vice President at Blumhouse Productions, the company behind micro-budget horror hits including The Paranormal ActivityInsidiousThe Purge and Sinister franchises.
  • Lucy Mukerjee, Vice President of Production and Development at After Dark Films

Check out the contest page for the full list of judges and prizes!

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