How many times have you heard an idea and thought, “that would make a really great movie.” For many aspiring screenwriters, the leap from concept to feature film seems like a long and difficult journey. But now, the folks at MovieHatch.com are connecting fans, screenwriters and industry professionals to achieve this very task.
MovieHatch’s Makin’ Movies Feature Film Competition takes the best in submitted pitches and concepts and asks the Website’s viewership to choose which idea they most want to see developed into a film. The top finalists are then submitted to industry professionals for review and further development. By generating communication and collaboration between previously separated markets of the film community, MovieHatch.com provides an ongoing forum to foster and strengthen these new relationships.
Lauren Williams, CEO and founder of Moviehatch.com, spoke with MM about the screenplay competition, the importance of viewer input and the dos and don’ts of screenwriting.
Natalie Sullivan (MM): MovieHatch.com allows for more viewer input and increased accessibility to industry professionals; as founder and CEO of MovieHatch.com, what motivated you to start this company?
Lauren Williams (LW): I understood how difficult it was for new talent to break into the film industry and saw this as an opportunity to address that need. I have a consumer communications background (marketing and advertising) and used that knowledge to develop a system that would appeal to both sides of the “industry coin”—both the filmmakers and the industry professionals. Interestingly enough, that system is based on the movie fan, which is at the heart of the MovieHatch concept.
MM: The MovieHatch.com Makin’ Movies Feature Film Competition allows for movie fans and enthusiasts to vote for the pitch or concept they most want to see made into a film. Now that voting is underway, do you think there is a specific genre that is best suited for this competition?
NS: No. Actually it appears that there are strong followings for most of the genres. The filmmakers have submitted a fairly equal amount of horror, thriller, comedy and romantic comedy pitches. This may simply be driven by the fact that the writers of these genres have discovered us first. Members of the site (fans and film industry) have inquired about all genres and look forward to seeing entries in the future that branch out to other genres as well.
MM: Once the winner is chosen, what happens next?
LW: First of all there isn’t just one winner in this competition. At least 10 finalists are truly winners in that they now have extensive exposure in Hollywood. Their scripts are sent to our 30-plus judging partners, so it is a huge success in and of itself to get their names actively put in front of so many senior executives. In addition to that, there could be several that move forward into development or production. The industry judges all read the full scripts for evaluation as well as consideration for development or production.
MM: For those moviemakers and screenwriters who missed the admission deadline this year, do you have other upcoming competitions or promotions they should know about?
LW: Yes. We will be announcing the next competition when the online voting ends for the current one. Right now, our plans include having the next competition begin in April 2010. We should begin accepting submissions in January. Anyone who is interested can send us an e-mail and we’ll notify them as soon as the specific entry date has been confirmed.
MM: What is the biggest mistake a screenwriter or moviemaker can make when pitching an idea?
LW: The biggest mistake is not being concise. Getting to the point quickly is one of the most difficult things to do but one of the most important. People tend to be too flowery or include things that are not at the true core of the idea. The first step in pitching is to get that key concept concisely defined and then embellish—not the other way around. It should start with a single sentence that encapsulates the entire script/film. They can delve into the other aspects such as characters or key turning points, etc. With MovieHatch, the pitch also allows the visual element (video or image) to help convey the tone and mood. We have already seen tremendous improvements from our partners in terms of reconsidering scripts based on the addition of those visual elements.
MM: Anything else you’d like to add?
LW: MovieHatch is truly giving independent filmmakers a voice that is being heard by powerful, influential people in Hollywood. The vehicles that are making it attractive to those industry insiders are the visual element (video trailer) and the movie fan. My background of working for many years at PepsiCo in both a domestic and international realm, brings a unique approach to this process. Regardless of who makes it to the finals, we begin building an audience for each film and the filmmakers have an opportunity to hear what the fans are saying about the story of their screenplay through the voting and the written comments.
MovieHatch allows so many players in the industry the chance to screen—at their own discretion—the script ideas that are out there. We hold high standards in terms of the semi-finalists that get posted on the site to ensure they are not disappointed when they do come to the site. It also gives new screenwriters quality access to the talent of actors and executives who get the films made.
Visit www.moviehatch.com for more information; voting ends November 15th.