Blue Cat Screenplay CompetitionFeedback is a screenwriter’s most valuable tool and the BlueCat Screenplay Competition provides that in spades to each of its contestants. Started in 1998 by screenwriter Gordy Hoffman (who wrote the film Love Liza, which starred his Oscar-winning brother, Philip), the competition prides itself on finding quality material and providing its contestants with an extra personal touch.

What began as a phone call to the few hundred who entered the first competition has evolved to individual e-mails to the now thousands of entrants, discussing each particular screenplay’s strengths and weaknesses. It remains the most progressive competition of its time, using the Internet to connect with its audience. “If you send us an e-mail, Heather or I will email you back,” says Hoffman, referring to his BlueCat partner, Heather Schor. “We are one of the only contests to post a photo of the people who run it on our site!”

Since joining the team in 2004, Schor even developed a partnership with the High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, New York. Each year one winner is awarded a staged reading at this “boutique” fest—a fest that has yet to be “taken over by a Sundance model,” she says (much like BlueCat itself). After 50 readers weigh in on the submitted screenplays, looking “to care about your characters, experience clarity in your writing style and sense a fresh voice,” Hoffman decides upon the ultimate champ. Those without a staged reading are eligible to receive a $10,000 prize, exposure on the respected competition’s site and, of course, that all-important feedback. The numbers have grown exponentially in the years since BlueCat began, but the intentions remain the same: Improve the numbers of strong screenplays ready for production.

Sound Off: BlueCat writes an entire script analysis for every screenplay entered into its competition each year. What is the best advice you think a screenwriter can receive?