Any student at Mercy College ready to write a script and hit the big screen now has a platform to get their material read and judged in the spring 2021 semester.
This will mark the first annual Mercy College Department of Communication and the Arts (CATA) screenwriting competition, with a deadline to submit any work on March 31, 2021. CATA plans to have the finest Mercy College faculty judge the submitted scripts, for a variety of lucrative prizes.
“It will be dependent on how many submissions we get to determine the number of script readers we need. There are a number of potential judges we have lined up who have a background in screenwriting and playwriting, just among our Mercy faculty, as well as others who have published work and write beyond academia,” said Steven DeRosa, Film/Culture Faculty and CAEI Associate Director.
The competition has been opened up to all students at Mercy College because of the inclusivity that allows. If only open to students who have taken screenwriting classes or are involved in the Media Studies program at Mercy, a large majority of students who write on a more personal level would not be able to participate. DeRosa hopes that the competition will help create a spark to motivate more students to take screenwriting and playwriting classes at Mercy.
“Students are allowed one solo and one group entry, and I love the idea that students can enter in collaboration. It’s a whole learning curve in it of itself. You get a chance to really mesh with another writer and bounce ideas at each other and pick and choose what works best. If your collaborative script were to win the competition, you could figure out how to share the prizes and accolades amongst yourselves,” DeRosa exclaimed.
The accreditation of winning the screenplay competition comes with more than the bragging rights of being the best, but also an amazing piece on a resume for aspiring writers. DeRosa hopes that student success in the Mercy competition could lead to them entering even larger competitions, and possibly even taking the love of screenwriting from a hobby to a career path.
“I feel like I came into the screenwriting profession somewhat by accident. I was in film school, and I couldn’t find anybody to write a script for me. So I said to myself, okay, I’m just going to write scripts myself, and then discovered that not only could I do it, but I felt very comfortable doing it,” DeRosa proclaimed. “Eventually, the interest led me to write a biography of Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite screenwriter in Hollywood.”
The resulting book, Writing with Hitchcock, is now a fundamental work to Hitchcock scholars and aspiring screenwriters alike.
The love of the craft of screenwriting could easily be provoked by a Mercy College student’s entry into the screenwriting competition. The competition has a few basic guidelines. All scripts submitted must be between 30 pages minimum and 120 pages maximum. As one page correlates to roughly one minute of screen time, students will be writing movies ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours in length.
It is not required but suggested that students get their scripts registered through the Writers Guild of America. Scripts must be the original work of the author, and once submitted there will be no further revisions or drafts accepted. Scripts must be written in the industry-standard format and can be in any genre that the heart of the writer desires. Notification of the advancement of scripts throughout the competition will be done via email.
More information on the screenplay competition will be released in the coming weeks.