Written by Erin McGhee
In Seattle for one-on-one script consultations, Gordy Hoffman, founder and judge of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition spent an evening with Northwest Screenwriters Guild members for a moderated Q&A where he discussed screenplay competitions, what sets the BlueCat Screenplay Competition apart and how writers can hone their craft.
Hosted at the Seattle Film Institute and moderated by NwSG member Arthur Rains-McNally, Hoffman talked about his trajectory from shooting his own films in elementary school in the woods around his hometown of Rochester, NY to attending the University of Kansas to writing and producing screenplays in Los Angeles.
He founded the BlueCat Screenplay Competition in 1998 and remains its judge. Asked why BlueCat consistently makes all the top 10 lists of the most important screenplay competitions in the industry, both for screenplay and television script writing, and what makes it special, Hoffman elaborated: “Transparency sets us apart. You know who’s reading your script, you know their credentials and what they’ve done in the industry and we pay them accordingly so we can attract and retain the best.”
Asked how one goes about winning the BlueCat Screenplay Competition and whether it favors any particular genre, he explained that it all comes down to good storytelling and strong relationships between characters. They’ve awarded the top prize to any variety of genres – horror, comedy, drama and everything in between, but the winners all had a couple of elements in common: unique characters, relationships between those characters that are compelling and that the audience cares about and a strong storyline.
It’s the same commercially: “Whether it’s Black Panther, The Meg, or Black Klansman, they were all great screenplays because you care about the characters and the relationships between them. And the high quality storytelling.”
Hoffman also talked about the importance of writing and producing short films, particularly for new writers. The short film format forces writers to develop compelling characters and compelling relationships between those characters quickly, and to create an emotional connection with the audience quickly. He explained that it’s also easy for new writers and producers to work in their communities to produce shorts, rather than attempting to bring a full screenplay to fruition. Hoffman’s short film Dog Bowl had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen at over 50 festivals around the world.
In addition to the Q&A on Friday evening, August 17, Hoffman sold out all available slots for one-on-one script consultations for aspiring screenwriters in the Seattle area on August 17 and 18. BlueCat Screenplay Competition offers a variety of other services for screenwriters, including:
- Written, Skype and in-person script consultations, for features, TV pilots and shorts
- Workshops, and
- Online screenwriting courses
Visit BlueCat Screenplay Competition for details.