AI Screenplay Competition

An AI Screenplay Contest promoted by the screenplay competition company Scriptapalooza was quickly called off after Hollywood writers — who are on strike in part to defend their jobs against AI — denounced it on social media as terribly timed and generally wrongheaded.

“We were completely wrong and made this huge mistake on launching something like this,” Scriptapalooza president Mark Andrushko said in a Saturday email about the contest, which launched on Thursday. It was officially called off on Friday.

“For the past 25 years, we have been working for writers and will continue to work for you. We made a bad decision and we feel horrible. We do not support AI. Period,” the email continued. “We support the WGA and the writers strike. ” 

The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May 1, asking producers to commit to agreements that include not trying to replace their work with artificial intelligence. AI programs like Chat GPT are capable of writing story treatments and even screenplays, though those screenplays may not necessarily impressive or even coherent.

AI Screenplay Contest a ‘Stupid Mistake,’ Company Says

AI can also be used to offer judgments on whether a screenplay has commercial prospects, though again, AI has no public track record of success. The hook of the Artificial Intelligence Screenplay Competition was that it would use AI to analyze the first 25 pages of a screenplay to “witness how AI revolutionizes the industry as it explores innovative narratives and pushes creative boundaries,” according to a promotional email.

The email further explained that at some point, humans would have entered the process, first by offering coverage — an analysis of the script’s strengths, weaknesses, and commercial viability. The winning script would be handed over to three human producers for consideration.

Also Read: Writers Strike Dos and Don’ts, Explained by the WGA

“By limiting the submission to the first 25 pages, the competition emphasizes the importance of a compelling opening and hooks the reader from the beginning. It encourages screenwriters to craft engaging and impactful introductions to their stories.,” the promotional email read.

As of Monday morning, the website for the AI Screenplay Competition was down.

Scriptapalooza, founded in 1998, is one of the most established of the screenplay contest companies that offer feedback and potential entryways for aspiring screenwriters to have their work seen by industry insiders, and potentially produced. It offers a long list of testimonials from writers who say Scriptapalooza contests helped them make valuable connections or at least improve their work.

But the industry has blossomed to included dozens of competitions, some more reputable than others, leading to widespread skepticism among writers about whether a given competition is of any value or is a waste of time and money.

To help screenwriters navigate the many contests, MovieMaker creates an annual list of 15 Submission-Worthy Screenplay Competitions we invite you to consider. (Scriptapalooza is not on the current list, but did appear on it in 2020.)

In addition to bringing criticism to Scriptapalooza, the brief existence of the AI Screenplay Competition led to questions about the use of AI in existing screenwriting competitions.

“Can you make any assurances that you have not been using AI in any capacity for your Scriptapalooza judging thus far?” screenwriter Laura Kroeger asked on Twitter in a question to the company.

“Laura, we have not. All the reading is done by production companies,” Scriptapalooza’s Twitter account responded.

But the company is still dealing with AI Screenplay Competition fallout.

“During. A. Strike. Tone deaf doesn’t even begin to describe it,” wrote screenwriter Drew McWeeny.

Another screenwriter, Jessica Ellis, tweeted: “So after 25 years of experience, you still did not see why this was an incredibly bad idea?”

“Jessica, yes, it was. We shut it down very fast, realizing the stupid mistake,” the company replied.

The pile-on included plenty of solid jokes about the AI Screenplay Competition, as well.

“If anything is going to trigger the AI apocalypse, it’ll be making them read competition screenplays,” tweeted Clive Frayne, author of The Process of Screenwriting.

Is AI Even Good at Analyzing Scripts?

We asked Chat GPT to analyze the opening scenes of The Terminator, widely regarded as one of the great films about artificial intelligence. To its credit, it recognized that the scenes we submitted were from the Terminator franchise — even if it didn’t recognize them as the opening scenes from the first film in the franchise.

Also Read: 10 Terminator Revelations We Bet You Didn’t Know

It also just might have underestimated how successful The Terminator would turn out to be. Here is it’s overall take:

“Overall, the script shows potential for an action-packed and visually appealing film within the Terminator franchise. However, further development of characters, themes, and dialogue could enhance its overall quality and commercial appeal. Conducting a more detailed analysis considering current market trends and budget considerations would provide a more accurate assessment of its commercial viability.”

Main image: The Terminator, who is, full disclosure, not a judge in the AI Screenplay Competition.