8/5/20 UPDATE >> re MTSC & BIFF 2020: Like most other film festivals this year, the 2020 Bigfork Independent Film Festival continues to be impacted by evolving Covid-19 conditions and state or county mandates. In mid-March, the Bigfork Festival weekend was officially postponed from April 3-5 to October 2-4.
Still optimistic that the show can go on, BIFF Steering Committee is currently exploring safe and prudent in-person options for presenting the selected films in Bigfork as planned in early October. An updated screening schedule for Fri-Sun 10/2-4 is being formulated with social distancing and Covid-19 safety requirements in mind.
As film fans, we hope you will join us to experience films on a Big Screen again -- and meet the filmmakers whose works will be shown!
Stay tuned for news on how/when we will present our Live Read screenplay event.
Get info on attending BIFF 2020: http://mtbiff.com
As of now, we have not scheduled a second MT Screenwriting Competition for 2021.
Get info on FILM SUBMISSIONS for BIFF 2021 (scheduled for 4/2-4/21) at:
Meanwhile -- We created the MT Screenwriting and Storycrafting Meetup (MTSS) for writers interested in screenwriting and related story crafting. MTSS has been holding monthly meetings via Zoom since April. On the 4th Thursday (7pm Mountain time) we discuss the "script of the month" (screenplays of produced films, written by award winning writers). We have also recorded expert interviews with some of our MTSS 2020 judges and local filmmakers , and hosted online writing craft workshops.
Feel free to check out MTSS Meetup -- it is free to join and online events can be attended by writers outside of Flathead Valley MT -- get info at:
We also post updates and info on MTSS events, contests and resources at our FB page:
ABOUT MTSC 2020: The Montana Screenwriting Competition was created to honor the exceptional talents and skills of Montana writers &/or highlight the special qualities of Montana locations as demonstrated in feature and short screenplays.
The competition was open for 2020 submissions from 11/9/19 to 2/2/20. Six finalist and 12 semi-finalist writers were chosen for honors out of over 60 qualifying writers based on their feature-length or short film submissions -- see award info below.
To be accepted and reviewed, all submissions were either:
a Feature-length screenplay (90-135 pages) -- OR --
a full Short Film script (between 20-40 pages; shorter scripts accepted with waiver) -- AND -- c) written by at least one Montana-connected writer (if co-written by a pair or team) -- OR -- d) included at least one story-relevant Montana specific location (not generic or "could be shot in Montana")
If you have questions, please email MTSC Coordinator Barbara Schiffman at MontanaScreenwriting@gmail.com -- include your full name, phone number and submission question or problem to get a return email or call.
3/23/30 -- We are excited to announce the RESULTS of our first Montana Screenwriting Competition! Honored Writers are listed below in alphabetical order. Each screenplay named is feature length (90-120 pages) unless otherwise noted.
Larry Baer (Where Buffalo Roam) ** BIFF 2020 Live Read selection **
Nancy Ann Bevins (Blonde Instinct)
Libbie Sue Lapp (Mirebalais)
Michael John Petty (Bright Morning Star)
Marsha Nash Sultz (Murder on the Fly)
Cynthia Webb (Wolf Con)
Mark Beech & Linda Gray (Open Road)
Diana T. Black (Long Path to Peace)
Josiah Burdick (Useless)
Douglas Hall & Mark Bracich (Survivor's Faith - short film script)
Scott O’Neill (Back)
Michele Page & Dana Summers (Ghost Dogs)
Vincent Rannazzisi & Nick Simko (Take 5)
Michael Rhodes (Bison Man)
Justin Spencer & Jason Farley (Timshel, Montana)
Serita Stevens (Logan's Land)
Sarah Stusek (Three Rivers)
Kyle Weingart (A Secret Santa)
To request a script for review from our honored writers, email Barbara Schiffman and ask for the writer’s or team’s contact info at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The AWARD PACKAGES for all 2020 finalists include:
* One VIP All Access BIFF 2020 pass per writer
* Name inclusion on BIFF website as a finalist or Live Read winner
* A downloadable copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter software (a $249 value, provided by contest sponsor Write Brothers Software)
Our "Live Read" Finalist Writer also receives:
* A Live Reading of their screenplay and Q&A Session as a 2020 BIFF Special Event (when possible, in person or online)
* Screenplay and career coaching from Barbara Schiffman (coordinator of the 2020 Screenwriting Competition; formerly a Hollywood story analyst, script consultant and creative executive)
Many thanks to OUR MTSC 2020 JUDGING PANEL!
All of our judges volunteered their time to help us select our MTSC Semi-finalists and Finalists. If you wish to contact any of our judges by email to learn more about their consulting services or online courses but no contact info or website is listed for them below, email Barbara Schiffman with your inquiry and she will forward it on -- contact her at <email@example.com> .
BOOKS noted below written by our judging panel members are available on Amazon.
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BARBARA SCHIFFMAN - MTSC creator/coordinator; former creative producer and Hollywood story analyst for major film and cable producers, currently a writing coach and book editor in Flathead Valley MT. Her chapter "Key Things to Know Before You Write" is featured in Tarcher/Penguin's book "Now Write! Screenwriting." More info: https://www.LiteraSee.com
DENNIS FOLEY - former Hollywood writer-producer, published novelist and popular writing instructor at Flathead Valley Community College and Writers.com. More info: https://dennisfoley.com
KATHY DUNNEHOFF - Published novelist and writing instructor at Flathead Valley Community College, inc. screenwriting courses for credit or continuing education and the annual NaNoWriMo Challenge. More info: https://kathydunnehoff.com
WILLIAM M. AKERS - Lifetime Member WGA, Script Consultant, Screenwriting Instructor and Department head at Belmont University (previously at Vanderbilt University, Author of acclaimed book for screenwriters "Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways to Make it Great". More info: https://yourscreenplaysucks.com.
SUZANNE LYONS – Indie film producer, president of Snowfall Films (Los Angeles), career coach for entertainment industry professionals, author of “Indie Film Producing: the Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking” (Focal Press), Master Class instructor on Independent Film Producing: https://indiefilmhustle.com or https://suzannelyons.net/workshops/
ROBERT DEEGE – Film and TV producer, film sales agent with Glass House Distribution (LA), script consultant
JAMES NAPOLI – filmmaker, writer-director, story analyst, humorist, podcaster, HuffPost blogger, MFA Screenwriting Program Associate Faculty at National University (online):
MINDI WHITE – screenwriter, producer, story analyst (HBO, CAA and more), writing instructor (LA City College), author of" Getting Past Me: a Writer’s Guide to Getting Past Production Company Readers," script consultant/ writing coach (by phone/web)
ANGELA J. TOWNSEND – filmmaker, screenwriter, author, VP Distribution for Two Horses Laughing Productions (Montana-based, specializes in indigenous films). More info: https://angelatownsendbooks.com.
LEILANI SQUIRE – writer, novelist, Humanitas Award judge, creativity coach, writing instructor. More info: http://leilanisquire.com/Creativity_Coach
JENNY SULLIVAN – AFI Women’s Directing fellow (1982-84), playwright, theater director (Los Angeles, off-Broadway, Williamstown Theater Festival, Santa Barbara & Ventura CA)
CHRISTINE LYNNE – screenwriter, TV series developer, former manager for writers
MTSC 2020 SUBMISSION INFO:
1) SUBMISSION TYPES & LENGTHS: BIFF 2020 Screenwriting Competition accepts only narrative Feature Length or Short Film screenplays (no documentary scripts or stage plays; teleplays only with special waiver from MTSC Coordinator).
Feature length screenplay submissions must no less than 90 pages and no longer than 135 pages (for a 90-120 minute film). Short screenplays should be between 20-40 pages (for a 20-40 minute film; shorter scripts accepted only with special waiver from MTSC Coordinator). All genres will be considered (exceptions: sexually explicit content or gratuitous violence).
2) MONTANA-SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS:
All submissions must be from EITHER a Montana-connected writer OR include at least one significant scene that takes place in a Montana location (i.e. a specified locale, not generic or "it could be shot in Montana").
(a) Submissions must be written by at least one screenwriter who either currently lives in Montana or has significant Montana connections (via family, previous schooling, etc). If written by a collaborative team, at least one writer must have a connection of this type to Montana. NOTE: screenplays by Montana writers DO NOT need to be set in Montana.
-- OR --
(b) IF NOT written by a Montana writer, submissions MUST include at least one scene set in a specified Montana location (i.e. not a generic location or a scene that could be shot either in Montana or anywhere else). Special consideration will be given to how the unique qualities of Montana locations are utilized and described.
3) MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS: Writers are welcome to submit more than one screenplay any time before the submission deadline -- but each requires a separate application plus the current non-refundable entry fee (paid at time of submission).
4) ORIGINAL CONTENT: Feature length and short film screenplays must be the original work of the submitting writer(s). If a submitted screenplay is based on another person’s life or copyrighted ideas, characters or storylines without proper permission from the originator, it will be disqualified without refund of submission fees.
5) ONLINE SUBMISSION PROCESS: All submissions must be made online as PDF FILES. No scripts submitted in other formats or sent by USPS, UPS or Fedex will be accepted. All screenplays will be considered as “complete” once submited; no revisions or updated copies will be accepted (via email) without prior permission by MTSC Coordinator.
6) SCREENPLAY FORMATTING: All screenplay pages must be numbered (except the title page) and typed in 12 point Courier font. Screenplays must also be written in English and formatted according to current industry standards (see links to useful articles on screenplay formatting below).
7) TITLE PAGE & WRITER CONTACT INFO:
The Title page for each submission should not be numbered (see #3 above) and MUST include:
* full screenplay title,
* full name(s) of writer(s),
* contact info (submitter's email, phone #, writer's website if any).
9) COPYRIGHT & OTHER RIGHTS: Submitting writers retain ALL rights and copyrights to submitted screenplays other than those granted specifically for this competition (see #10 below for more info). Writers are encouraged, however, to copyright their work &/or register screenplays prior to submitting to any contest with the Writers’ Guild of America West: https://www.wgawregistry.org
10) RIGHTS GRANTED TO BIFF-MTSC: By making your submission, you grant the BIFF Montana Screenwriting Competition the right to use your name(s), the screenplay’s title and logline, and any other relevant information about the writer(s) or screenplay in BIFF festival and screenwriting competition promotion for 2020 and beyond. This also includes the right to list the title and writer(s) on BIFF website if your screenplay is a finalist or winner, as well as to relevant info and participation of writer and winning screenplay in the 2020 "Best of BIFF-MTSC" Live Read event. Any other rights required from finalists or winning writer will be mutually agreed upon prior to BIFF 2020.
11) OTHER LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF WRITER(S): By submitting your work for consideration to the BIFF Montana Screenwriting Competition, you affirm acceptance of full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. The submitter and all writers associated with the project indemnify and hold harmless the Bigfork Independent Film Festival and any representative or affiliates from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses which may be incurred in relation to this submission.
If you have any QUESTIONS on any of the items above, e-mail MTSC Coordinator Barbara Schiffman at MontanaScreenwriting@gmail.com. Please include your full name and your phone number if you'd like a return call to address your needs.
MORE INFO ON CURRENT INDUSTRY SCREENPLAY FORMATTING:
For useful tips and examples of check out these helpful articles or pdf samples:
LINKS TO ADD'L RESOURCES FOR SCREENWRITERS VIA WGA-WEST: https://www.wgawregistry.org/tools.html
If you need additional info about screenplay formatting, email Barbara Schiffman at MontanaScreenwriting@gmail.com -- include your specific question and your phone number so she can respond directly.