I recently received an email with some bad news: Script Frenzy will no longer be held.
It was hard for me to to digest, though somewhat ironic: every year that I’ve tried it I never wrote anywhere near the required number of pages. But still, it was easy to get excited to be starting on a script with many other people in the same situation.
Apparently that number wasn’t very high. According to their website, far more people participate each year in NaNoWriMo, the annual contest for writing a 30,000-word novel in 30 days. To me, it’s hard to imagine that so many more people would attempt to write a novel rather than a script in a month, let alone in any amount of time.
Why do I think that?
First off, simply the length. It’s really not that hard to write a screenplay (at least to me). The structure is more defined than a novel, and the formatting is far more rigid as well, but the fact is there’s far more whitespace on each page of a script, and the total length (both pages and words) is far less than a novel (normally 1 page = 1 minute of screentime). So for so many eager novice writers, shouldn’t attempting a script be far more tempting?
Second, consider the era that we live in. Movies are as popular as ever (although video games seem to be on the cusp of edging it out). Nobody really reads novels anymore (for the most part), and those that do seem to be taking up eReaders and leaving behind the dead-tree form (please note the slight sarcasm I inject into this sentence). With so many people going to the movies (and even now the advent of online streaming), shouldn’t they be far more motivated to try to write one? In the past everyone had a great idea for the next Great American Novel; aren’t we now in the time of looking for the next Great Hollywood Blockbuster?
I don’t know if any other website or community will pick up where Script Frenzy left off. I do think there’s plenty of aspiring screenwriters out there. Maybe it really is the structure and formatting that kept alot of people from trying. Even though some software is still expensive (Final Draft) there are far more cheaper and free alternatives available now (Scrivener, Celtx, Trelby, etc.) that can allow people to get into writing. The increasing popularity of streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Apple) and the rise of the indie pictures should surely encourage writers, as well as trying to break into the traditional Hollywood system. If and when an alternative does turn up, I’ll gladly become a part of it.