When I kissed the envelope for luck and sent in my script to Fade In’s contest, I was just another wannabe screenwriter. I needed an agent, but damned if I knew how to land one. Top agents don’t troll for scripts in the mail room – they read ones sent to them by people whose judgment they trust. I didn’t know any of those people. That left me standing on the outside, staring up at that high wall that guards the Hollywood palace from the rest of us. A few months later, Fade In called to say that my script was a finalist. ‘Cool,’ I said. Although, I had no clue how cool.
Fade In didn’t just write out a prize check and wish me luck. They gave me excellent script notes. No vague admonitions to “fix the third act” or “strengthen the hero.” Precise suggestions that zeroed in on every weakness – every line of dialogue that rang false, every set piece that went on a beat too long, every plot point that wouldn’t play on screen.
They sharpened my script, and then they made good on their promise to find me representation. Soon I had a top manager, then a William Morris agent and a seasoned entertainment lawyer. Then things really got cool. Michael De Luca said he wanted to produce my script, and Spike Lee called to say he wanted to direct. I hadn’t just scaled that high wall – I was across the moat, through the castle gate and into the main hall. A few months later came a seat at the head table – a writing deal with Sony Pictures [ with director Sam Raimi on board; and since then a deal with DreamWorks with director Philip Noyce and a pitch sold to Paramount with director Pierre Morel attached ].
I owe my success to Fade In. These guys don’t just promise access – they deliver it. So kiss that envelope and send it in. Once Fade In gets behind you, you never know whose desk your script might land on.”
-Frank Baldwin, “Pure,” “Cold Pursuit”
“After winning [the Fade In Awards], we free-optioned [our award-winning] script to a prominent producer who had made one of the Speed films. The award gave us motivation and encouragement, which has huge value when starting out. It helps to believe that you are at least decent at writing to stay positive when you begin your career, and recognition from a reputable contest was a nice little lighthouse in the fog saying, ‘Yes, keep coming this way. You’re heading in the right direction.’” – Danny Kravitz, screenwriter, The Marksman
“My experience winning the Grand Prize of the TV pilot competition has exceeded any of my expectations. First I revised and revised again the script following [Fade In’s] written notes until it was ready for producers. Then we worked on the Bible, and finally the five minute pitch for the pitchfest. Understand that this was my first pilot, Bible and pitch, so my learning curve was steep. But Fade In helped each step of the way. The result from the pitchfest was 6 requests from producers, studios and an agent to read the script. All of this bolstered my confidence as a new writer, and gave me the lottery ticket of someone buying my work.” –James Gould, 2022 Grand Prize Winner
“I was offered and I accepted representation thanks to the Hollywood Pitch Festival! I really appreciate that participating in your First 10 Pages contest gave me the opportunity to get my foot in the door as a screenwriter. Thanks again for all your help and guidance on this journey!
– Mary Elizabeth Summer, “Trust Me, I’m Lying” 2020
“Our experience with the contest was fantastic. Great feedback on the script as well as the connection to the Pitch Festival. We really honed our pitch and script so we can market it properly. We also made a lot of connections. We have competed in a number of festivals, this has been the most rewarding.” –Gregg Greenberg, 2022 Grand Prize winner
“We received invaluable notes from [Fade In]. They went through our script line by line to get it ‘market ready.’ We have now landed a producer [Amy Baer at Gidden Media] and look forward to taking the next step.”– Colleen Schukei, Heather Petersen, “The Important Man”
“My experience with the competition has been great so far. Communication has been great, and the prizes are top notch. Many competitions out there aren’t really worth the entrance fee, but the Fade In Awards offers the kind of prizes that can make a real impact in a new writer’s career.” – Jamie Campbell, 2022 First Prize Horror Winner
“My experience with Fade In Awards has been very compelling. There’s a reason why a festival grows stronger year after year. The Fade In Awards demonstrates passion and professionalism in equal amounts. As an independent filmmaker and writer it means the world to win the Fade In Awards. Thank you again and hope to see you in LA 2023.” – Sarah Polhaus, 2021 Grand Prize Winner
“Working with you was a dream come true. I’m very proud to have been your [Grand Prize] winner; the award has already opened many doors for me.” -Gavin Benham, 2016 Grand Prize Winner
“A few years ago, you awarded my script first prize in your Fade In Awards. That award has done more than anything to open doors for me. We are shooting the script in Kentucky in May (2019), and we’re going to make a great film. Thanks again.”
-Wesley Mullins, “Troublesome Creek”
“My horror script, Clackers, was the second place winner in the 11th Annual Fade In Awards. I chose Fade In for a couple of reasons. The genres were broken down into different categories and the winners were recognized in their magazine and a trade publication.
“[After] I received a phone call [from Fade In] notifying me of my win, I wasted no time in touting my success. As a result, my script was requested by production and management companies. By August I had secured representation and in January 2008, the script was optioned by actor/director/producer Barry Tubb and producer Suzanne Weinert. Javelina, formerly titled “Clackers,” began filming in Rocksprings, Texas [and recently completed post].
Choose your contests wisely and if you are a winner, it’s no time to be modest. Don’t wait for someone to beat down your door. In the end, it is going to be all up to you to stretch a contest win into success.”
-Mike Murphy, Javelina (formerly known as “Clackers”)
“The Blaze Brothers franchise has almost limitless potential, but until Fade In recognized, awarded and provided invaluable contacts and feedback on the script, it was just words on a page. After winning first place for Best Action script in the 11th Annual Fade In Awards, the entire Fade In team stepped to the plate and knocked one out of the park for the two of us. We ventured from Saint Louis, MO to Los Angeles, took meetings with top Hollywood agencies and management companies, and, believe it or not, were blessed with a number of options. Not only did Fade In help facilitate these meetings, but worked with us hand-in-hand throughout our decision making process. Ultimately, we had to make a decision, and after careful deliberation we decided to sign with an agency and management company that understood our vision for The Blaze Brothers graphic novel, animated series, video game and, of course, feature film. We are extremely pleased and honored to be working with APA (Agency for the Performing Arts). So thank you again to all the wonderfully attentive industry professionals at Fade In for bringing The Blaze Brothers to the City of Angels.”
– Matt Krentz & Vernon Whitlock, The Blaze Brothers, First Place Action Winners
“A few years ago, I won the Grand prize in the Fade In Awards…and I absolutely cannot say enough about Fade In magazine. Not only did they deliver on every promise of this competition, but the initial heat and ongoing support that I have received, as a result of winning the competition, have been phenomenal. I live in Colorado – Colorado, for crying out loud – and thanks to this competition I now have an agent, lawyer, a top-notch management firm, [Barry Sonnenfeld attached to direct my winning-script], and a rolodex of people in the 310 area code, which I would not have had if Fade In had not been so professional, so kind, and frankly, so well connected in this business. I now have relationships with A-list directors, successful producers and a lot of other industry folks who like my writing and want to see the next thing I write purely because of Fade In. Their support and advocacy has gone above and beyond the script that won the competition – they have been a trusted friend and advisor on every project since, and I have the deepest respect for the entire Fade In staff. This is a competition that means something. It certainly did for me.”
–George Olson, Grand Prize winner
“As a result of winning the Grand prize, I received a number of story notes (from Fade In) that were intended to shape the script into a more marketable, viable and professional piece of work. These notes were very detailed and extensive and showed the amount of care and support Fade In was giving to the script and to me. Following the notes and feedback, I received a brand new iMac computer. [Then] I received a press release in Daily Variety that boasted “Georgie” in bold letters. This press release was followed by a series of emails and phone calls from various producers, managers and agencies. As a result, I now have representation. All this was then followed by a $1,000 check. (I live in the greater Los Angeles area and did not require to be flown out for meetings, so I was given cash value.) I also received a subscription to Fade In magazine and the first copy I received had my photograph in it as the grand-prize winner. My experience with the Fade In Awards has been very positive. All my dealings have been professional and helpful and the experience itself has helped me greatly to achieve some of my career goals.”
-Kathy Garcia, Grand Prize winner
“I won the “Best Thriller Award” in the 1st annual Fade In Awards. It was the first and only screenplay competition I have ever entered or won, and it was the first step in building the career I have today. After winning, I received story notes from the Fade In staff. Not only was this my first opportunity to hear industry notes, but the comments helped improve the script which was sold, shot and distributed by Artisan Entertainment in 2000. In the months that followed, I was introduced to agents in Hollywood and eventually signed with the ICM agency. I am convinced my script would not have been read by any agencies without the influence of winning the competition. Believe me, I tried. It was through this process that I met the agent who still represents me today. I should also mention that Fade In also introduced me to the attorney who still represents me. Since winning the award, I have gone on to write screenplays for studios such as Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, MGM, HBO and Artisan. I’ve been employed ever since. I had a wonderful experience with the Fade In Awards and I would recommend any aspiring writer to enter the competition. The Fade In staff is a very knowledgeable and experienced group of industry professionals.”
-Jon Bokenkamp, Finalist, Thriller category
“As a result of the competition, Fade In worked with me on developing both my award-winning script and a new script that they got to Stan Winston – Hollywood’s foremost creature-maker in the history of the film industry (he has created creatures for Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, James Cameron, and George Lucas). Brian Gilbert, the president of Winston’s company, is currently developing my script in order to turn it into a major motion picture!
-Quentin Hidalgo, Grand prize winner
“The Fade In Awards have an amazing track record of securing industry access for their winners. That’s why I entered. But at the time I really had no idea what kind of impact winning could have on my career. Since being announced last year’s Grand Prize winner, the Fade In folks have been incredible, working closely with me to get the winning script ready to market. Their feedback and suggestions have been outstanding. I’ve already been offered top-level representation, and I haven’t even been out to L.A. yet!”
-Al LaSorte, Grand prize winner
“The Fade In Awards is one of the contests to which I really pay attention. I read the winners each year, and this past year signed one of the contest winners. It’s been beneficial for both my new clients and myself. It is truly a top-notch contest, as is their pitch festival, which is the only one of these kind of events that I will attend.”
-Ryan Saul, Paradigm Agency
“An American Crime is going to be published. Berkley Books. Trade paperback. You were the first to see value in this book. You put it out there. You championed it. You gave it to Nick Kazan. You got the film deal off the ground. Hell, you even read it to people over the phone. This is a special time for me, and I wanted to acknowledge all you’ve done. Thank you.”
-Grant Jerkins, Finalist
“Thanks to the Fade In screenwriting contest, I’ve made tons of contacts within the film industry. I’ve gotten to work with and for some amazing talent, and I have support I know I can always count on. Sure, I won some prizes too, but the Fade In contest is about far more. You will be introduced to people who will help you with your career. And, Fade In has continued to support my writing years after winning. They know good writing, and people in the industry respect their opinion. If you’re good enough to win this contest you have a real chance to break in.”
-Quentin Hildago, Finalist
“As the co-writer of two Fade In First Place winners, and a multiple semi-finalist, I have always found Fade In‘s competition to be far ahead of the pack. Whenever we’ve had questions, Fade In has been both helpful and accessible. I hope that writers realize the complications of consistently running a good, honest, well-respected competition and know that you do a damned fine job of it. Thanks for all the support we’ve gotten.”
– Kaenan Oliver of Oliver-Flynn-Oliver, Finalist
“The Fade In Awards are one of the top, and most helpful, contests in the industry. I had won in 2006, and you have been helping me to further my career ever since! How could anyone put a price on that? I will forever appreciate everything that you have done for me.”
– Luke Dalinda, Finalist
“I received everything that was promised to me. The notes I got from staff were some of the best notes I have ever received. I have been a finalist or winner in a number of contests and none of them have done more for me than Fade In.”
– Craig Berger, Finalist
“I’ve read over Fade In’s analysis of my script and found it absolutely fantastic. It is the most detailed, comprehensive and thorough dissection of my script. It is thoughtful and nuanced and shows that you considered the script and story in its entirety. I’ve received countless feedback from others over the months and while you share some of the same concerns with them, you raised many that have not been thought of. You clearly understand my story and the characters and the themes I’ve trying to convey. Thank you.”
– K. Pally, 2013 Finalist
“Thank you for the absolutely amazing, crystal clear, highly professional set of in-depth notes on my screenplay. I estimate I heeded at least three quarters of the notes, usually doing precisely as suggested, and in other cases at least adding “grace notes” to address the issue you raised. On the whole, I couldn’t be happier with the attention given my script. I am very grateful.”
– S. Sublett, 2013 Finalist
THESE ARE JUST SOME OF OUR FINALISTS’ SUCCESS STORIES
WILL YOU BE NEXT?
After Jon Bokenkamp entered his thriller Preston Tylk, he signed with ICM, he was hired to write a feature for director William Friedkin, has since directed Tylk and sold his documentary After Sunset to AMC, wrote features for Julia Roberts, Halle Berry (Perfect Stranger), and Angelina Jolie (Taking Lives). Currently, Bokenkamp’s hit show “The Blacklist” airs on NBC.
After Josh Gordon and Will Speck entered their short Culture, both signed with ICM, Culture was nominated for an Academy AwardTM and they directed Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory. After Darryl Wimberley entered his noir Kaleidoscope, he signed with ICM. He now has a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press and Kaleidoscope has also been published as a novel.
After George Olson entered his script Tesla, he signed with Endeavor.
After Grant Jerkins entered his project An American Crime, we gave it to Fade In Advisory Board member, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nick Kazan who, along with writer Terry Curtis Fox, adapted it for the screen. Oscar-nominated director Barbet Schroeder is attached to helm. After Mike Murphy entered his script Clackers, he landed an option and within months began filming. Now titled Javelina, you can look for Murphy’s film in theatres later this year.
After Matt Krentz and Vernon Whitlock entered their action franchise, The Blaze Brothers, they signed with APA and landed a deal with American Original Entertainment.
After Frank Baldwin entered his genre film, he signed with the William Morris Agency, landed writing assignments with Sony Pictures and director Sam Raimi, DreamWorks and director Philip Noyce, and Paramount and director Pierre Morel.
After Mike Walsh entered his screenplay, he signed with Ken Sherman & Associates and optioned two projects.
After Howard Kingkade entered his short, Hole in the Paper Sky, the script was produced starring Jessica Biel, Gary Marshall and Jason Clarke. After James R. Rothenberg entered his script, The Last Resort, he signed with Original Artists. After Haven Turleygood entered his genre film Irish, he signed with Endeavor and landed a writing assignment with Arnold Kopelson and another with Joel Silver.
After Matt Healy entered his dark comedy Clay Pigeons, Healy signed with ICM, Pigeons was produced by Ridley and Tony Scott with David Dobkin directing and Healy landed a two-picture deal with Warner Bros.
After Max Mayer entered his drama Adam, he directed and sold the film at the Sundance Film Festival to Fox Searchlight then played in theatres to rave reviews.
After Eric Howell entered his short Ana’s Playground, he signed with UTA & Anonymous Content. Now he’s shooting his first feature in Paris.