How Shore Scripts Helps Emerging Writers with Justine Owens
Every writer at some point struggles to finish script and tell the story they want to tell. Whether it's the dreaded writer’s block, plotting issues, or finding the time in a busy life. You are not alone!
We sat down with Shore Scripts’ Director of Contests, Justine Owens, to talk about their latest initiative to help emerging writers write a screenplay that will attract industry attention and launch their careers.
Script Slug: To start, tell us a little bit about Shore Scripts.
Justine: Shore Scripts was established in 2012 in London, England by the actor Jeremy Irons, the producer Kees Kassander, and our Founder, cinematographer David Beazley. They were committed to creating an organization that recognizes new screenwriters and provides opportunities for them to connect with the industry and establish their careers. In 2018, we moved to Los Angeles, seeking an even greater marketplace in which to promote new talent.
Script Slug: You're launching a new Script Development Fund. This is a huge opportunity for writers. Can you tell us about it and how it came to be?
Justine: Over the years how we could promote our alumni has developed. Originally, and to this day, we connect Feature and TV writers with agents, managers, and producers who can take their careers forward. Then, we created the Short Film Fund, where we provide financing so that emerging screenwriters’ work can be filmed and seen – again hopefully leading to future career opportunities for them. Now for the first time, we are trying to help writers who are still in the process of writing. Our other contests all rely on having a finished draft. But with the Script Development Fund, we are offering financial and professional support to help a writer get to FADE OUT over the course of a year.
Script Slug: How does this latest contest differ from those you were running before?
Justine: The wonderful thing about the Script Development Fund is that it works equally well if you are just beginning to write for the screen, or if you are looking to adapt a story from one script format to another. The Fund accepts short Treatments or the first 10 pages of a screenplay and essentially we are looking for potential – a great story idea that deserves to see the light of day as a fully-fledged screenplay. You might be adapting a short into a feature or a feature into a series, or you may be working on your very first script. If you can send us a treatment or the first few pages, we want to read it.
Script Slug: What do the writers who place in this contest receive?
Justine: This is the first year of the Fund so we have tried to make it chock full of helpful things. There will be two overall Winners, who receive cash awards. Plus, each of the winners will receive a script development support package that includes two 1-hour calls with our Head of Development, Lee Hamilton, a free 6-page coverage report, and two free 3-page coverage reports. These can be drawn down throughout 2024, with the hope that by rounds of repeated discussion and feedback, these writers will reach their goal of finishing their scripts. Moreover many of Shore Scripts’ long-time collaboration partners - Save The Cat, Stage 32, the ISA, Women in Film & TV - are making time to take questions and provide answers for our winning writers. When the writers have their scripts in final form, we will work with them to find connections from our industry and directors roster. Everyone who places gets the opportunity to join our private Facebook Group where they can engage with our team, and other alumni, and attend online events solely available to that community.
Script Slug: There's a lot of skepticism when it comes to screenwriting contests. Whether it's the quality of judges and feedback or if they really provide the opportunities they claim. What sets Shore Scripts apart?
Justine: At Shore Scripts, we can only stand on our record. We've helped launch the careers of over 100 writers. We believe we put more resources into delivering fair results and quality experiences than many other organizations. Starting with our signing up to the Women of Color Unite pledge in 2021, we have embedded equity, diveristy, and inclusion into our organizational thinking and processes. What’s more, we have a Coverage Service Manager who quality assures our coverage before we send it out, and gathers feedback from those who use the service every 3 months so we can keep making things better. All our alumni are encouraged to stay in touch so we can help them where we can. We take our relationships, continuous improvement, and accountability very seriously. We share our scoring with every writer that enters any of Shore Scripts’ programs and if you have any questions about your score, you can always get in touch with us to discuss things.
Script Slug: That's reassuring. One of our biggest gripes with screenwriting conests is the lack of transparency in the process. You seem to take that very seriously.
Justine: It's critical. We're connecting writers with real opportunities. It's important that the industry professionals we work with know we're bringing our best.
Script Slug: On that note, how can writers apply?
Justine: Visit the Shore Scripts website. Take a look at the options for entry. Do you have your first 10 pages yet? Or do you want to submit a short Treatment? If you are not sure how to write a treatment, then we have an Articles section on our site where you can find our top tips on creating one. Look at the Rules & FAQ for the contest, and make sure your submission meets those requirements. If you still have questions? Then you can send an email to email@example.com and we’ll do our best to answer them.
The Script Development Fund submission deadline is November 15.
Justine Owens, Director of Contests | Shore Scripts
Justine Owens has been fascinated by the movie business since childhood and studied Film History at college. Justine first joined Shore Scripts as a reader after working on Slated’s innovative online film financing platform and later, for American Zoetrope Studios. Now as Director of Contests, she enjoys creating opportunities for emerging screenwriters and filmmakers who aspire to tell their stories in an industry that makes magic.