Caucuses: Script

Welcome to the UFVA Script Caucus!

Caucus Co-Chairs: Jonathan Anderegg and Charles Dye 



University Film and Video Association

Screenwriting Caucus Agenda

Tuesday August 2, 2016 

Lunch Break -1:15 -2:30 Feast Buffet

Notes by Hafed Bouassida


As I go back in time, I realize that some of the following issues have already been addressed through the years, in other caucuses. The reason they are still here is simply because we never really resolved them or we never really made the effort to find a final resolution for them. Sometimes, during the obligatory one-hour caucus at the conference, there was just not enough time to discuss the issues as far as I remember, while people are trying to get some lunch before running to the next event they are interested in.

Maybe this time will be the charm… Here is some food for thought, but please refrain from reacting until you read the final decisions taken by the caucus:

1/ Scheduling issues:

·      Writers should make sure that they indeed will participate at the conference when entering a script, whether for simple reading or for competition. Deciding not to attend the conference after announcing that you will indeed participate does not just mean that your script will not be read, but we suddenly have two scripts without respondents. Plus, the entire schedule will have to be reviewed, which can be a headache!

·      Role swapping at any given session between writers and respondents cannot be tolerated as we try to insure a larger presence at all the reading sessions. We need to guarantee a minimum number of participants at every session: three scripts with two respondents for each one will guarantee us a minimum of six participants per session. Role swapping literally reduces the amount of participants.

2/ Script Submissions:

·      Eligibility: you must be a member in good standing, you must agree to attend the conference, and you must serve as both a first respondent to one script, and a second respondent to a second script that will be read at the conference.

·      Script acceptance procedures: should we have a blind jury review process to accept scripts into the conference for reading purposes, or should we simply accept every single script, finished or in progress? Please, your thoughts?

·      Do we accept incomplete scripts, treatments, breakdowns or outlines to the conference for reading purposes? If so, should the writer include a one-page synopsis of the entire story? Comments?

·      However, incomplete scripts, treatments, breakdowns and outlines will be slated for reading and discussion provided that the number of finished scripts allows it. There are usually three scripts per reading session and a maximum of 15 sessions per conference. Total maximum scripts we could accept is therefore: 45. Which means, if we could have 45 entries per conference, there will be no room for incomplete scripts. Thoughts?

·      Finally: no matter what, incomplete scripts, treatments, breakdowns and outlines should never be considered for competition. Agreed?

3/ Juried Scripts:

·      As per our tradition, winning scripts will be announced exclusively during the banquet. I understand it is a bummer for those who leave before the banquet, but the organizing team seems to prefer this solution. Thoughts and propositions for alternative announcements?

·      Are undergraduate and graduate students still frowned upon by our members for jury and evaluation purposes? Please, address.

·      Scripts entered into the contest may also be entered into the conference but must not be produced at the time of conference entry. A big part of the charm of the reading workshop is to offer insight and advice to writers BEFORE production. What's the use of work-shopping a screenplay that has already been produced, particularly when we can accept only so many scripts per conference? Thoughts?

·      To avoid problems with simultaneously scheduling and organizing the juried competition (March/April/May in general), what about requesting that the writers wanting to enter their scripts in competition must do so early in the fall?

·      If that is not acceptable, how about we FIRST deal with the juried scripts early on, even before the scheduling process? Which means as soon as we reach the deadline set by the Conference.

·      Rewrites: writing successive drafts of a script after presenting a version by the deadline is a huge problem for respondents. Just to be fair, we restricted the juried competition to the very first draft sent to the conference by the deadline. So, no problem there. However,  when it comes to the reading sessions, I received complaints from respondents concerning additional drafts sometimes delivered much later in the process, even after the respondent drafted their evaluation. Solutions?

·      Finding jurors did not seem to be a problem this year. Indicate your willingness to be a judge by sending me an email and I will add you to the database.

4/ Communication:

·      Issues of blog, chat, inquiries, concerns or any other form of communication among screenwriters. Is it needed? Should we institute any of that? Or do we all have enough going on in our lives and it’s preferable to not add more responsibilities? Thoughts?

·      Ideas about the script caucus website page as it stands right now. At the moment there is only the minutes of the caucuses, with nothing for 2014 and 2015. What should we do about this caucus page, besides dutifully uploading the minutes of yearly last caucus?

·      About the caucus itself during the conference: is it really a good use of our time to schedule a screenwriting caucus during a short lunchtime period? My experience is you never get the few interested people to show up at the site of the caucus until about half an hour later, which literally leaves us with about 30 to 35 minutes to discuss essential issues that face the screenwriting community. My proposal is: if the time and the schedule permit, and we do not have that many scripts proposed for reading, why not take the time of a reading session and organize our caucus at that time? I know, it means ignoring the traditional schedule proposed by the conference organizers for caucuses, but why not? Thoughts?

5/ 2016 Caucus data:

·      Total entered scripts: 37

·      Withdrawn scripts (writer not present at the conference): 3

·      Final total of entered scripts: 34

·      Features: 21

·      Shorts: 9

·      TV Pilots: 4

·      Works labeled “in Progress”: 11

·      Of which works in the form of Treatments, Outlines or Breakdowns: 2

·      Juried Scripts: 29 (2 Withdrawn. Writers absent)

·      Non-juried scripts: 7

·      Student Scripts: 0

·      Co-authors: 5

Caucus Decisions

v Agreement that we will continue with the current system of requiring two evaluations for each script presented to the conference.

v Agreement to ask each respondent (first or second doesn’t matter) to write a synopsis and a log line for each script they evaluate. For TV scripts, a synopsis for the entire first season is needed.

v Agreement to create deadlines by which respondents need to commit to delivering both evaluations even if they decide to not come to the conference.

We agreed on three important deadlines:

-       First deadline set by the conference is to present your scripts in time, which automatically makes you a potential respondent to two writers.

-       Second deadline, about a month later or so, is to decide whether or not you will indeed participate in the conference. By this date you are committing to writing both evaluations for each script you entered and at least sending them to the writers.

-       Finally a third deadline that would be closest to the conference itself, maybe two weeks before. By now you're committing to presenting two evaluations, coming to the conference, participating in the reading sessions and reading personally your evaluations.

v For these deadlines to work, we agreed on cancellation policies (the word punishment was used and recommended…). These cancelation policies should be applied since there are dire consequences for the scheduling process and mostly for writers, some of who ended up without any reviews of their scripts.

v Here is the consensus: if you miss your third deadline and you don't send in your evaluation, you will not be allowed to participate with a script for one year. Is that drastic enough? Thoughts?

v Incomplete scripts, treatments, breakdowns and other forms such as outlines will be accepted only if there is time in the conference schedule. Which means these forms should not impede on the finished scripts readings.


Script Caucus Minutes and 2012 Post Mortem

Meeting held on Thursday, August 9, 2012
Notes by Michael Angelella,

1. Script Caucus Meetings – It was agreed that in the future the Script Caucus needs a scheduled conference slot for its meetings. This request was passed along to UFVA conference organizers.

2. Script Competition/Script Scheduling -

a) Faculty Screenwriting Competition - The Script Caucus agreed on an eligibility rule change for those members who enter the juried Faculty Screenwriting Competition. From now on, a member who enters the juried Screenwriting Competition must be a UFVA member in good standing, must agree to attend that year’s UFVA Conference, and must serve as a respondent to two scripts that are being workshopped at the conference. The need for these changes is to assure more the participation of more qualified judges in our process.

b) Conference Screenwriting Workshops – Most script sessions at this year’s conference were called either "Finished Script Workshops” or "Works In Progress.” During the sessions it became clear that the line between "finished” and "in progress” is blurred. In fact, it can be argued that every script is a work in progress to some degree. That said, the caucus agreed that it eliminate the blind jury review process for accepting scripts into the conference workshops and accept ALL scripts that are submitted. (If our script entry numbers substantially increase in future years, the caucus may have to reconsider this matter.) From now on, all script sessions at the UFVA Conference will be called "Screenwriting Workshop.”

If an incomplete script is submitted to a Screenwriting Workshop, the writer must also include a one-page synopsis of the remainder of the story. New respondent guidelines will have to be written for how to critique and respond to incomplete scripts.

Script treatments will still be accepted into the conference Workshops. New respondent guidelines will have to be written for how to critique and respond to script treatments.

c) Short Screenplays – The caucus agreed to officially add Short Scripts as an entry category for both the juried Faculty Screenwriting Competition and the conference Screenwriting Workshops. A short screenplay will be defined as 30 pages or less.

d) Judges – There is a growing need for qualified judges for both our Faculty Screenwriting Competition and qualified respondents for our conference Screenwriting Workshops. For that reason, the Script Caucus will actively solicit more volunteers from among its own members as well as the entire UFVA membership.

3. Data about scripts entered into 2012 Conference Workshops and 2012 Faculty Screenwriting Competition:

Conference Workshop Scripts – 24

Faculty Screenwriting Competition Scripts – 20 (17 features, 3 shorts)

Competition Only (not entered into the conference) – 12

Treatments – 1

Graduate Student Conference Scripts - 3

4. Concern about not requiring all scripts to be juried for acceptance into the Conference Screenwriting Workshops:

The Script Caucus discussed with UFVA Conference organizers its decision to only jury its Screenwriting Competition. (See #2-b above.) The organizers have agreed to consider and discuss this move, especially since we already have a juried Screenwriting Competition. But they asked Script Caucus members to consider a question:

"What is less desirable? Accepting so many scripts into the Conference that we are forced to schedule two Screenwriting Workshops at the same time? (Something that has not yet been a problem for the Script Caucus.) Or vetting scripts in a juried process to limit the number that are allowed into the conference and avoiding any potential scheduling conflicts with our workshops?”

5. Special Thanks to Judges:

A special "thank you” to the following judges who helped score the semi-finalist round of our Screenwriting Competition:

Michael Green
Desha Dauchan
Jonathan Moore
Brian Plow
Rhett Murphy
Mary Lopez
Kennedy Wheatley
Steve Grossman
6. Faculty Screenwriting Competition Winners:

Congratulations to the finalists in the 2012 Faculty Scriptwriting Competition -

Features Category:

1st place: SOLOMON'S TRAIN by Troy Perkins

2nd place: FORT BLISS by Claudia Myers

3rd place: FORGOTTEN MAN by Kevin Corbett

Shorts Category:

1st place: MULTICULTURAL by Dennis Conway



Script Caucus Minutes and 2011 Report

Emily Edwards, Chair

1. Script Caucus Chair Replacement for Edwards for 2011-2012
Michael Angelella –Towson University,

2. Report on Special Issue of the Journal of Film and Video on media writing
-December 1, 2011 Deadline
-Keep alert as you attend paper panels for good papers appropriate to this
issue and encourage authors to submit.

3. Report on Types of Script Scheduling/ Competition

A. Conference Reading Workshop –completed scripts for entry into conference
reading and workshop discussion --Blind jury review

B. Treatments and Works-in-progress –Treatments and incomplete or
unfinished scripts intended for conference workshop ---Not reviewed

C. Script Competition --completed scripts for entry into the UFVA script
competition. Submission to the conference does not automatically enter a script into the competition or vice versa. However, this year only six scripts entered into the competition were not entered into the conference.

Some data about the scripts for the conference: We had a total of 29 scripts submitted this year. Twenty-three total scripts entered into the conference for conference workshop. Three of these are graduate students. Twenty scripts entered into the faculty competition; this means the acceptance rate for those who place in the top three will be equivalent to the publication rate of a good academic journal. Of the competing scripts, six were entered only in the competition and not in the conference. Seven scripts entered the conference only without entering the competition.

Conference Scripts 24
Faculty Competition Scripts 20
Competition only –not entered into conference 6
Treatment Workshop 3
Graduate Student Conference Scripts 3

We have also had three treatments, which I scheduled together into a conference
treatment workshop. There are no protocols for jurying of treatment sections or
incomplete scripts in the conference. Members of Script Caucus are eager to continue having works-in-progress and script treatment sections.

4. Concerns and Blind Jurying of scripts

Process Significant because averaged scores determine:

1. Which scripts are scheduled into the conference and which are rejected

2. Which scripts are semifinalists in the competition

3. Jurying issues --jurors were writers from 2011 or past Script Caucus members.
(Some objection to the dual role, in that having a script entered into the conference could create prejudice in jurying process. However, at the 2011 Caucus, members felt that this was reasonable.)

4. Form returns –scripts sent to three readers, however not all jury forms were
returned; many returned late. In some cases only one form was returned out of three. (My solution was to use non-UFVA jurors to blind review. Writer friends who owe me favors or who were just willing to help and were wiling to read and score in a hurry.)

5. Other Concerns ---student actors from host school for script readings? One
member requested that friends not signed up for the conference be allowed to attend readings as actors. Security at Emerson made this not really workable.

6. Other Concerns: Greg B. raised the question of a promotion and tenure list of
associate or full professors of UFVA willing to serve as outside reviewers. Apparently, there was one at some point in UFVA history.

7. Announcement: Special Thanks to Judges
Special thanks to the judges this year for scoring the semi-finalists:

Michael Angelella
Carol Keesee
Mary Lopez
Jeffrey Rider
Diane Walsh
Michael Green
Mark Kerins

Winners of this year’s contest not announced until Saturday morning. These were: The Finalists in this year’s competition were:

Third Place ---1912 by Heather Addison

Second Place ---A Long Winter Here by Chris Auer

First Place ---Bertolt Brecht Goes to Hollywood by Kyle Bergersen

Final note: Observation suggests that the script sessions for 2011 were better
attended than any time in UFVA history, with some sessions having more attendees than many screenings. Anecdotal evidence and direct comments suggests that Script Caucus members appreciated the detailed notes on expectations for writers and respondents. The custom of having two respondents per script and two scripts per session (where possible) should continue. Attendees to sessions appreciated that script sessions are interactive, with the possibility of being cast in a role and contributing to the development of a screenplay.

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