Wednesday, July 14, 2010


This year the Communication Arts Department will sponsor a script writing contest to find one script that might be developed into a festival-ready short film of the highest caliber. All scripts submitted to the contest will be reviewed by five qualified judges. Writers will receive feedback both in the form of narrative comments and rankings based on the various criteria. The top three scripts will be eligible for the departmentally sponsored film. The top script (regardless of whether it is chosen to be produced) will receive an OPEN FRAME AWARD at this year’s festival event.

Scripts may be in any genre. Fresh innovative stories told in a cinematic way are best. Scripts may range from one minute to sixteen minutes (one minute = on page in screenplay format). Scripts must be submitted in standard screenplay format. Scripts MUST include a title page, but may NOT include the authors name.

You should submit your script by email. You should send the email to Andrew Rudd and your script should be in PDF format, with a title, but NO authorial name. In the email you attach your script to, you should list your name, major, script name, and indicate whether you would:

a. prefer to direct your script, but would allow someone else to direct it,
b. prefer NOT to direct your script, and desire another director for it,
c. be ambivalent about whether you direct your script,
d. prefer to direct your script, and would not want your script to be directed by anyone else.

Scripts open to other directors will have a slight edge in the competition.

Scripts are due on September 13th, 2010 at 8 am. Contest winners will be announced on September 20th at 5 pm on the Open Frame Blog.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Watch Great Short Films

There are many places to watch short films. The series FUTURE SHORTS on youtube is one of the best curators of good films, but you can find them in many other places, too.

If you live in Stark County (or while you're at Malone) there is a short film series that screens every month, first wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the downtown library. The films are excellent.

I recommend that as you watch short films, you try to develop a sense of what makes short subjects work. Jot down ideas for short films of your own.

Read Professional Scripts

You can find endless quality scripts online. I strongly advise you to read scripts for movies that you have already seen that way you can think well about how the film translates into visual storytelling.

I also caution you about some of the scripts you will find floating around on the internet. Many of them are simply transcriptions by hacks that are living in their parent's basement without anything better to do. Like write their own screenplays. In other words, I have nothing against living in your parent's basement. Just living in your parents basement transcribing fake screenplays from movies you dig. I have a problem with that. Am I off track here? Just wanted to warn you about those fake scripts. Once you've read a few real ones and compared them to standard Hollywood formatting, you'll be able to spot these fakes a million miles away.

Some sites I recommend include

Simply Scripts


The Screenplay Database

Both of these sites have excellent, legit scripts. Check them out.

Standard Screenplay Format

Because Malone is an educational institution, and the OPEN FRAME is an educational program, we're always interested in resourcing students for the things they may do after they graduate.

While script formats vary from medium to medium, one of the most important part of learning the craft of screenwriting (or any kind of scriptwriting) is learning to write within the formatting specs shared by professionals.

Standard formats help readers identify important elements of the script more quickly, they help producers organize pre-production and production more efficiently and they help everyone involved in the script have a more clear and shared sense of the vision, length, tone and dynamics of a script.

There are many excellent books on screenwriting. Most of them include a chapter or at least a section on formatting.

The best way to learn formatting, though, in my mind is:

1. read professional scripts, and

2. use professional screenwriting software to write your first script.

I strongly recommend using CELTX - a free software available for download at - for the beginning scriptwriter this software and its support materials offer a wealth of helpful resources. I also use Final Draft, an industry standard software. Final Draft is impressive in its updates, its resources, its ease of navigation...and the price? Well, it reflects the top-of-the-line status.

While standard screenplay format is essential (if you don't have it -- it's a deal breaker), it's not enough. Your main focus as a writer should be story. So try to balance learning the craft *and* building your storytelling muscles.

The best way to build your storytelling muscles is:

1. watch great short films,

2. write scripts!