Final Draft Big Break is celebrating its 20th anniversary! We wanted to share some of the success stories. Meet Alexis Perkins 2017 Big Break Feature Winner.
Alexis Perkins is a 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, where she received The Jesse Thompkins III Screenwriting Award. Currently working in Los Angeles as a freelance writer and producer for various programs such as Big Brother. After winning Big Break she was named on the 2017 “Young and Hungry List” as one of the top 100 new writers in Hollywood.
Why did you decide to enter Big Break with all the other contests out there?
It’s a writer’s writer’s contest. There are countless screenwriting contests out there, but Big Break is the only one that promises not only great prizes, but connects you with the judges who read your script, in addition to managers, agents, producers, and studios that could potentially option, buy, or develop your material. No other contest is directly associated with the #1 most used and trusted screenwriting software in the world. Every screenwriter uses Final Draft, it’s the industry standard, and to win or place as a finalist in Big Break is the biggest amateur screenwriting contest honor you can receive.
What has happened to your screenwriting career since your advancement in the contest?
I signed with a management company, Stagecoach Entertainment, and an agent at Gersh. I’m developing a pilot and a feature.
What advice would you give to someone considering entering their scripts in contests?
Be honest with yourself about your work. Is this premise, this scene, this bit of dialogue- really interesting, or dramatic, or funny, or exciting? These judges read hundreds of scripts a year, you have to consider what will really grasp their attention, and thereby an audience’s attention. The goal is to make someone want to keep reading your script without taking a break. That applies to an action sequence or a simple conversation at a diner. So, ask yourself, with every scene you write, ‘What is the purpose of this scene’ and after you have written it; ‘Is this scene doing its job?’ It’s also important to have a trustworthy person read your script and give you their honest and constructive opinion. One time I had the pleasure of sitting in on a seminar with screenwriter William Goldman (The Princess Bride, All the President’s Men, Marathon Man, Misery), and he said, of these honest readers: “find one and hold that fucker close.” Swear to god, those were his exact words.
What advice do you have for contest-winning writers to take the most advantage of that success?
Be relentless, man. Call, email, text, annoy those agents, managers, assistants, anyone. And be sure to have a huge list of scripts that you’ve either already written or are prepared to write. Watch everything, have an opinion on everything. All of those people will ask you what else you have in the holster. Be confident, even if you don’t feel that way. It’s all a confidence game, and if you have the goods, you can back it up.
Download our FREE resource full of tips to help you succeed in the next screenwriting contest you enter!
Tips for meeting executives?
It’s cliché, but brand yourself. It’s important. Have a story to tell about yourself that is memorable. They meet a few hundred people a year that tell them what town they are from or what school they went to. That’s not interesting. You have to craft a specific narrative about yourself that will stick in their minds. What is it about you that is unique, something that when they are talking about an upcoming project, your name will pop up. The other thing is, treat it like a regular job interview in that you want to keep eye contact and keep your energy up.
What's the biggest mistake writers make when entering contests?
This is a massive generalization, but in my opinion it is not having a clear act structure. It sounds so simple, but a very clear beginning, middle, and end, makes a great story. And it’s the hardest thing in the world to spin out of whole cloth. Use note cards, read screenwriting books, outline the story over and over, whatever it takes, but make sure you know exactly where your first act ends and your second begins, and your second act ends and your third act begins, and so on. Make those act-outs enormous cliffhangers, either through action or emotion. I know that sounds vague, but that’s only because it applies to every kind of story, no matter the genre. Audiences thrive on a perfect combination of predictability and unpredictability. The act structure provides the predictability, and your unique story and characters fills in the unpredictability.
Get a $10 off your Final Draft Big Break Contest submission fee with the code below!
Discount: $10 off total Big Break submissions
Get your script on the page with the industry's #1 screenwriting software!
Scriptmag.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated websites.