Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Script rejected, should I proceed

Three months ago producing a film wasn't even on my serious radar. But after signing up for a screenwriting class and writing "Pink," my short about a 1969 landmark obscenity trial, I was getting increasingly excited about actually producing it.

Yesterday, I got a form rejection email from Access Sacramento.
Thank you for submitting your script for the 2011 "Place Called Sacramento" film project. The competition was very challenging and several scripts were within a few points of each other after being reviewed by at least two different professional filmmaker evaluation panels.

Unfortunately, while your script came close, it was not selected in the final ten. I encourage you to continue polishing the script and resubmit next year. I know this is disappointing news but I ask you to not be overly discouraged.
No offense to scripts chosen in previous years or this year, but I find it hard to believe mine was not one of the best written, most Sacramento-specific in subject matter and potentially entertaining.

The festival has a family-friendly requirement. Just like any body making artistic judgments on the appropriateness of art -- be it the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system  or be they the obscenity police of the 1960s -- there are bound to be problems. As Ron Cooper, Access Sacramento's executive director, attempted to explain the rules, it was apparent quickly there might be issues. While attempting to avoid specifics, such as "don't say fuck," he tried to impress upon people that family-friendliness was a category in the scoring formula.

Giving the PG intentions of festival, maybe a film based on a strip club obscenity trial was a bad idea. The rejection letter encourages flunkies to polish their script and consider bringing it back next year. But if I was tossed because there will be some (tasteful) skin, there is no point. Which leads me to the questions: Is there a better venue for this script? And should I self-produce it anyway?

Here is my tagline: A landmark obscenity trial, set in Sacramento, takes a sexy twist after Judge Earl Warren, Jr. agrees to move the trial to the club where the girls were arrested, the Pink Pussy Kat.  

At least one other rejectee is considering going forward and possibly creating a film festival. Loyal blog readers please offer some sage advise.

P.S. Please point me to a good way to share the PDF of the short script online       


  1. If you have a Mac, you can open your PDF using Preview, then Save As and change the format to JPG.

    I think you should start an alternative film festival. Family-friendly and many Sacramento tales don't go hand-in-hand.

  2. I wrote a script entitled "KINDRED" which was selected for the "Place Called Sacramento" Film Festival in 2006. The subject matter was the Sacramento cholera epidemic of 1850. I too had seen some of the past entries to the festival and thought many of them seemed a little to much like travelogs. My story was decidedly more edgy; the opening lines layed out scenes of sewage, rats and piles of dead bodies. I think that the key to my success in having my script chosen was that I wove into the story a modern-day plot with a positive message and let the darker historical stuff play out in dream sequences (as sort of a sub-plot). My film was essentually a ghost story. At the premiere, Ron Cooper even commented, when he introduced it, that it was a much darker piece than all the rest.

    Although your piece sounds like it would make a great short film, I am not surprised that it's subject matter may have been the reason it was ultimately not chosen. If you go take a look at my film online, you will see that my story has an uplifting message that probably was key to its getting the greenlight.

    If I were you, I would definately self produce your screenplay idea. There are a lot of very talented local actors who would probably be willing to act for free. I can think of a few actress in particular that would be great.

    You can see my film KINDRED at the below address. Feel free to contact me from that website and I can forward you some names, etc.


  3. Upload the PDF to Google Docs and it can be saved as a scanned PDF, with the text OCRed for you. Or use Scribd.

  4. Here is a link to the file on Google docs: