First came the outrage. Dora the Explorer putting in yearly personal appearances at the San Diego Latino Film Festival is one thing. A script review competition in cahoots with Nickelodeon that encourages budding writers to basically trace their favorite television shows, another.
During this year's festival, which runs March 8 - 18 at UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas at Hazard Center, industry professionals from the Nickelodeon cable channel will be on hand to critique the screenplays of emerging local scribes.
Here are the requirements: Applicants need to submit a spec script based on any 30-minute comedic television series currently in production and airing on primetime network or cable. The good news is, the script need not be based on a Nickelodeon show, nor does it need to be "kid-friendly." Too bad Mr. Ed is off the air. I've long had this idea rattling around my brain on how to get Ed in a time machine so he could hook up with Catherine the Great.
Here's the rub: why not encourage a creative spirit as opposed to goading writers into imitating the style and material of others? It is not my goal to knock any of our town's film festivals, but having a reputation for constantly calling films out on their lack of originality, it would be disingenuous of me not to at least bring it up for discussion.
I stopped by the Media Arts Center this morning to run my thoughts past friend and colleague Glenn Heath. Looking over the following specifications, a rookie author gets a good feel for how the finished product should look when held in a producer's hand.
It's important to remember, even though there are three holes in the script, only use two, not three, brass brads to hold it in place. You don't want to look bad your first time out. Most sitcoms are derivative time-wasters that wouldn't take much to improve. A lot of sitcom fans know their material almost as well as the series creators, and in many cases bring a fresher outlook to the material. As Glenn points out, there's even a chance for betterment on the part of the applicants.
It took a bit, but Glenn won me over. Portfolio review applicants are required to submit a request for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submission must be received (not postmarked) no later than 5 p.m. on February 1. For additional information, including further submission criteria and entry deadlines in regards to Nickelodeon’s Artist Fellowship Portfolio Review, please click here.
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