As the year 2018 draws to a close, I want to thank all the writers who have trusted ScreenCraft with their creative projects. I've been inspired by so many of the writers I've had the pleasure of meeting this year. It's been inspiring to read your screenplays and to see some of you navigate bidding wars with studios, sell projects, get hired by producers, and sign with literary managers and agencies.
ScreenCraft alumni whom we've helped get their literary managers, agents and first paid screenwriting assignments are now selling their projects and getting staffed on TV shows. Even though it's a slow-moving industry - with many film and TV projects taking years to develop - all the hard work and persistence of the writers coming through our programs is paying off. We'd like to give an especially warm shout-out to these writers.
And even more important than these significant career moments have been the many emails, social media messages and phone calls we've received from writers who are excited about the creative breakthroughs they've made with the help of our industry readers, development consulting, e-courses and books.
Here's a little list of stuff we're grateful for in the year 2018:
- Our Big Event! Instead of producing a screenwriters retreat (like we did in Jamaica last year), in 2018 we produced our ScreenCraft Writers Summit in partnership with the Atlanta Film Festival. Our conference was attended by over 300 screenwriters and over 20 film and television professionals including Academy Award-winning screenwriters, Emmy-winning TV writers, studio executives, managers and literary agents. Two writers even signed with managers as a result of the conference. We look forward to the 2019 ScreenCraft Writers Summit in Atlanta this coming April.
- Contests for new formats! Building on the success of our annual Cinematic Short Story Contest, in 2018 we added a Book Contest (with cinematic adaptation potential) and a contest for Stage Plays (with cinematic adaptation potential). Both of these new competitions were very popular, and we look forward to discovering and celebrating the writers whom we discover via these two new programs.
- Success stories! More success stories in 2018! With more success stories for our alumni in one year than ever before, we couldn't be happier with the momentum we're gaining in the entertainment industry as a talent-discovery organization. With more success stories have come a record number of submissions across our competitions, events and consulting services. We're excited and humbled by the dramatic growth.
- Coverfly! Our sister company, Coverfly, launched and grew its writer-facing platform in 2018 and we were thrilled to be part of that journey and dramatic growth. Coverfly has been a fantastic new resource for writers, helping several of ScreenCraft's writers find paid work, meet their managers and option projects to producers.
- Books! This year ScreenCraft launched a nonfiction book publishing venture, and we already have two best-selling books on Amazon! If you haven't already, check out the Kindle Editions of The Producer's Brain: A Pocket Guide to Thinking Like a Film Producer, and The Craft and Business of Screenwriting: The Ultimate Guide to Writing for Film and Television and Navigating Hollywood.
- Juries! ScreenCraft's Hollywood juries continue to grow in number and caliber - from major studio executives to Academy Award-winning screenwriters and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights - we're honored to collaborate with celebrated industry professionals to identify rising talent. In 2018 be tried a new process for deciding the grand prize winners for our genre-specific script contests; instead of asking the judges simply to rank their favorite scripts, we met with the judges for a long evening of dinner and conversation about the top finalists' projects and we decided on the winners through group consensus. Not only were the dinner conversations incredibly fun, the discussion and debate about the merits of each project was an effective way to understand what each judge prized the most about each project.
- Partnerships! This year we partnered on various events with the Austin Film Festival, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Atlanta Film Festival, The Writers Guild Foundation, The Science and Entertainment Exchange and BondIt Media Capital -- all of these partnerships have expanded our friendships and network of valuable industry collaborators. We can't wait to build on these relationships in 2019.
- The Script Lab Summit and TSL 360 - Our team helped produce and contribute educational content for the TSL 360 script library. Together with The Script Lab, we helped raise over $8,000 for worthy industry non-profit partners including Young Storytellers, The Writers Guild Foundation, 826LA and NewFilmmakers LA.
Trends and issues we've seen come to the fore this year in the industry:
- Me Too - Hollywood's track record of toxic work environments, sexual predation and unstable "personalities" has finally come to a moment of reckoning as some of the most powerful men in show business have been exposed by brave people who have spoken up about their despicable behavior. This cultural shift in Hollywood is paving the way for better screenplays with more nuanced and true depictions of female characters from female writers and under-represented voices.
- Coverfly - as mentioned above, we're excited by the dramatic growth of Coverfly as a free platform for writers to host their scripts for the industry to search and discover. This is an exciting evolution of how screenwriting talent is being discovered in Hollywood. The growth of Coverfly as an aggregator of data has supported our mission of opening doors into Hollywood for writers around the world. Coverfly automatically aggregates competition placements, scores and scripts into one place for writers to opt-in to having their project discovered by vetted industry professionals. Coverfly.com is a free alternative to theblcklst.com and other paid hosting services, and it's a quickly growing hub for the entertainment industry to discover rising talent. Full disclosure: ScreenCraft's parent company, Red Ampersand Inc, also has ownership in Coverfly.
- Diversity in Hollywood - From on camera to behind the camera, Hollywood is more keenly aware of its lack of diversity than every before. Women, people of color and other under-represented groups are beginning to get more attention from studios and producers. Movies and TV shows with diverse cast and screenplays written by diverse voices are proving to be box office successes and cultural touchstones. We've seen a higher percentage of our success stories come from writers of diverse backgrounds. Here's to discovering even more talented and diverse writers in 2019!
- Streamers - Services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu bought, produced and optioned more content than all the studios and networks combined in 2018. These new faces of Hollywood are poised to grow again in 2019, with even more new streaming video services joining the marketplace from the likes of Disney and Warner Bros. Three past ScreenCraft winners received paid writing work from Netflix in 2018, and we expect many of you reading this will be receiving a paycheck from Netflix or one of the other major streaming companies in the next year. Their demand for content is only growing.
Thanks for a great 2018! And as always, keep writing.