Former rocket scientist, shark safety diver and award winning screenwriter, Dan Goforth’s most recent assignments were RIDING ON FAITH, the true-life story of rodeo champion Amberley Snyder and the feature film adaptations of New York Times bestselling author Col. Walter J. Boyne's DAWN OVER KITTY HAWK, as well as the sci-fi graphic novel, THE CHRONIC ARGONAUTS, from New Baby Publishing. Visit Dan's blog, Script Soup and follow him on Twitter @Dango_Forth.
This year, the Nashville Film Festival announced the addition of seven short screenplay categories to their competition, bringing the total to eleven. That’s in addition to their ten feature and two teleplay pilot categories. This is one screenplay competition that is really listening to what screenwriters want. In fact, this year, the International Screenwriters Association named the NaFF one of the Top 20 Screenwriting Competitions in the World, The NaFF Screenwriting Competition now offers more than $90,000 in cash and prizes spread across twenty-three separate screenplay categories. Semi-finalists and Finalists in each category will win passes to the 47th Annual Nashville Film Festival, where they have the opportunity to mingle with other screenwriters and filmmakers from around the world.
Founded in 1969 by Mary Jane Coleman, this is one of the oldest film festivals in the U.S. As an Academy Award Qualifying Event, NaFF garners notice from the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MovieMaker Magazine, IndieWire, Variety, Billboard, New York and Script Magazine. NaFF screenplay winners have gone on to be signed by agencies like CAA, as well as find production deals with studios. Although NaFF began as a “film festival”, last year almost 300 screenwriters came to attend. From screenings, to meeting producers and directors, to attending screenwriting panels, this is one festival that gives a huge return on investing in a pass. And speaking of passes, all finalists win two Gold All Festival Laminates and semifinalists win one Silver All Festival Laminate. Not to mention the cash prizes in each of the screenwriting categories.
I recently talked with NaFF Communications Director Deb Pinger and NaFF’s Executive Director Ted Crockett. Deb is producing her fourth Nashville Film Festival, and she directs all marketing, communications and donor-related efforts, as well as the Screenwriting Competition. Ted is in his fifth festival as Executive Director. Named one of Nashville’s top “Movers and Shakers” by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine and Variety Magazine, it’s easy to see how this festival has risen to prominence so quickly among screenwriters.
Nashville Film Festival's Director, Ted Crockett, came to Nashville searching for a career in music. Looking to keep up the rent, he managed to get hired as the NaFF's box office assistance thirteen years ago. From those "humble beginnings", he has worked his way up through the festival until becoming Director of the NaFF a few years ago. Being “festival raised”, he now enjoys being able to put into place some of the dreams he's had for NaFF.
The screenplay competition became reality when Ted decided it was time for NaFF to move beyond being just a small boutique festival. “When people think about taking their baby that they’ve created– whether it’s a script, or a film, or music (because we have a whole music component) – we want them to think Nashville. To do that, we needed to have 1) something more than just the film competition and 2) We needed to start strategically growing the number of people who could come to the festival and make a deal – the creatives and the distributors.” When his team began talking about putting a screenwriting competition into place, Ted says initially he wouldn’t sign anyone to run the competition because he wasn’t sure how it would go. That wasn’t going to be a problem… “I think we got 1,300 submissions in one week. I remember meeting with the staff and saying, “’Hey, guys. This is a super problem to have!’”
I asked about the reasoning behind the many short screenplay categories. It turns out that was just another way of NaFF listening and responding to screenwriters around the world. Ted says, “The short script is often a way for screenwriters to test a concept that will become a short film, and later a feature film. We have found that our genre categories make our competition unique in the field. These categories also allow more writers to attend the festival, get important professional development and network with filmmakers. Ultimately, we are in the business of developing and showcasing talent. We’re proud that NaFF offers more genre categories for short scripts than any other competition.”
NaFF is known for more than just trying to help filmmakers and screenwriters. They have received multiple awards and recognition. And they've used that award money to create a program for bullied kids, teaming with with music superstars Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson. As Ted says, “We want to show everyone who we share the planet with that we’re all the same."
The Late Deadline for the NaFF Screenplay competition is November 30. The Extended Deadline closes on January 8, 2016.
Here are the Shorts Categories: Drama, Comedy, Action/Adventure, Family/Animation, Historical, Inspirational, Music Inspired, Science Fiction, Thriller/Horror, Young Screenwriter, and Tennessee Screenwriter.
In Features: Drama, Comedy, Action/Adventure, Family/Animation, Music Inspired, Inspirational,
Historical, Science Fiction, Thriller/Horror, TN Feature Screenplay.
Teleplays: 30 Minute Pilot, 60 Minute Pilot.
All finalists in each category win two Gold All Festival Laminates valued at $798 and the semi-finalists win one Silver All Festival Laminate, valued at $250.
Winners in each category receive $250. Runners up in each category win Hatch Show Print Certificates.
The Grand Jury Prize for Overall best Feature Screenplay is $2,000.
The Grand Jury Prize for Overall best Short Screenplay is $1,000
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