Friday, January 09, 2009


Hey guys,

Ya know, I get propositioned more than a hooker in Vegas, but I thought this Cowrite idea sounded rather clever. It's a contest in which the Benderspink Production Company provides the movie premise and you submit the first ten pages of a script.

The latest premise is "Determined to be a high-level Jason Bourne type operative, an awkward teenager enlists the help of a mysterious, supposed ex-CIA agent in his hometown and finds himself entangled in a dangerous plot that is way over his head."

Below is the e-mail I received from Todd, the head honcho.

BTW - Andrea Berloff is hot.

God, I love writers...



Dear Mystery Man,

I wanted to share with you and your readers a truly innovative screenwriting contest I have launched in association with management/production company Benderspink (A History of Violence, The Butterfly Effect, Just Friends) called Cowrite ( The contest provides a unique opportunity to those who have always thought they could write a screenplay to play an essential role in a potential Hollywood blockbuster.

A movie premise has been posted on the Cowrite website and writers now have the opportunity to submit their version of the first ten pages of the story. The best opening ten pages ($10 per 10 page entry), selected by the Cowrite judges, will be posted on the website and the story will build from there.

Every other week, the best ten-page script submission will be added to the developing story until the script is finished and ready to be sold. There will be eleven winners over the six month contest. For their ten-page contribution, each winning entrant will receive money and prizes totaling $3000, a pitch meeting with Benderspink and a chance to win the grand prize of a paid rewrite of the script. Winners will also share in any potential script sale proceeds.

Another exciting aspect of the Cowrite website is the "Pro's Take" section where professional screenwriters and industry professionals will offer comments and suggestions on the developing story as well as insight into how to get started in Hollywood. This mentoring program will serve as an invaluable tool for aspiring screenwriters and help guide the story along. Guest mentors will include screenwriters Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center), Shintaro Shimosawa (The Echo) and Josh Schaer (TV's Jericho).

This is believed to be the first screenwriting competition where the end goal is to try to sell a collaborative screenplay. In true Web 2.0 fashion, Cowrite utilizes social networking and the "wisdom of the crowd" to create a community-sourced product. Cowrite believes this method of art creation will become a widely accepted, and, in fact, sought out way of finding new talent while producing blueprints for major motion pictures. After all, what better market research tool for studios trying to figure out what audiences want to see at the theaters than letting the audiences provide the content?

Cowrite has partnered with The LA Film Festival and software companies Final Draft and Jungle Software, all of which will supply prizes to each of the eleven winners.

Please check out our website at and let your readers know about this exciting new community-sourced project. If you have any questions about Cowrite LLC, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your consideration.

Todd Soffian

President & Executive ProducerCowrite


Anonymous said...

What a brilliant idea. Get a thousand hopefuls to submit ten pages and pay $10 for the privilege. That's ten grand. Then do the same again for pages 10-20, for 20-30 etc all the way up to 120 pages. That's 120 grand. Give a prize of $3000, net $117,000. Woo-hoo! What a wheeze!

It's much easier to make money off people who want to make it as writers than it is to actually write a script that is good enough that someone will want to pay you for it.

Must get my thinking cap on.

Christian M. Howell said...

Thanks for the info. And yes, Andrea is HOT.

GabbaGoo said...

It seems that I got myself a little writing to do...

Thanks for the heads up MM

marnie said...

I wrote my ten pages last week. I love these contests that have a short deadline. I may be addicted to them actually. :)

Anonymous said...

Kind of like a "Best Ball" tournament in golf...but for screenwriters. A friend of mine and I are working on our ten pages as of last week....


Mystery Man said...

Terraling - I never was good with numbers. Hehehe...

Thanks for the comments.


Anonymous said...


COWRITE -- digusting.

This contest is disigned by people who are not successful in Hollywood -- the bottom feeders!

I read the first 10 pages --winning pages?

Looks like this was written by amateurs or kids in high school.

So unfilmable!
So childish!
So lacking in respect to producers who want this kind of scripts!
This is a dead 10 pages!

There is not one once of talent or originality or energy in these 10 pages.


Next contest please...

Cowriter said...

Pretty much the producers chose an ill-formatted, and much cliched first 10 pages to establish the main story and characters.

I want to point out that I am not grousing because I lost. I was looking forward to this contest, because even if I lost the first round, I had the hope that whatever entry beat mine would be -really- good.

Instead, the contest has now become, well, more challenging, an uphill battle, as I feel that the next ten or so entries have to fight against the cliched opening.

The first act is practically condensed into the first ten pages. Great if you are writing T.V. but not for a feature.

I have to say it, the writing is really terrible.

This man was trained by Harry Walters.
I thought Walters retired fifteen years
I’d like to speak with him.
Right now.


"The main thing to keep in mind for the next few insane
moments is that the Masked Spy is deliberate. Mechanical.
Calm. A seasoned professional."

Its great that we reading the screenplay know that the masked man is a spy, but how does the audience know this?

Right after this, the spy goes from being on a sled, on the ground, to magically appearing on the roof of the semi.

Then the "great escape."

"The Masked Spy fires a magnetic hook. At a sign. He’s
yanked away. Swings onto the train. Raul can’t believe

Very unclear WTF just happened. The spy shot a sign, but hit a train, and speeds away on a train?

Technical errors.

I can contact the transit authority--"

The transit authority does not have jurisdiction over cargo trains, the Department of Transportation does, and even then it is not the 1800's; trains are easily tracked and can be stopped without contacting someone in the "transit authority."

Also, the spy/thief was shot in the shoulder, with possibly a very serious wound, so the only way the spy is getting off that train is if it stops. Raul would know this and use his obvious and immense resources to have the train stopped.

I could go on, and on.

I know that this is a collaborative effort, but nobody seems to agree if the first ten pages are setting up a "Wanted" style movie, or a "Bourne" style movie. It most certainly is -not- a comedy, which is what the producers said that they wanted, I.E. "Napoleon Dynamite" meets "Pinapple Express."

I'm going to give it my best shot for the next 10 pages, but I am no longer hopeful about the outcome of this contest.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, Cowrite...

You're a moron.

I just read the winning pages. There isn't a problem with the formatting and the writing is rather good. Prose description is colorful and quick and there's some smart and natural banter between the kids.

That's not a condensed first act, either. If anything it's squeezing what would be 15 pages into 11.

In the part you're talking about the spy doesn't go from being on the sled to on top of the Semi. He goes from on the sled to crawling up the side of the semi to on the semi and the little elipses in time are covered through changes in the POV. That's done ALL THE TIME in screenplays because in the cross cutting of movies you don't have whole sequences unfold in real time. I guy opens the door for the stair well, next thing you know he's at the bottom and running for his car. We don't need to see him go DOWN all the stairs.

When the Masked Spy fires the magnetic hook he's swinging from the semi onto the train -- the train he's previously thrown his backpack onto and made not his intention to jump to. That wasn't unclear to me at all.

No where in the script does it say it's a CARGO train. And any METRO TRANSIT AUTHORITY would be in charge of the local metro rails or passenger trains.

You say...

"Also, the spy/thief was shot in the shoulder, with possibly a very serious wound, so the only way the spy is getting off that train is if it stops. Raul would know this and use his obvious and immense resources to have the train stopped."

That serious wound didn't stop him from getting ON the train. The spy seem pretty resourceful. I'm willing to bet by the time they stopped the train he'd be long gone. But that's point is null because Even IF Raul could use his "obvious and immense resources to have the train stopped" the whole point of the Transit Authority line is to show that the guys that just had the thing stolen WEREN'T supposed to HAVE IT and so they can't tell anyone they lost it and involve them in getting it back.

You know how I know that? Because a character says that in the VERY NEXT LINE.

That all makes sense to me.

The one thing I will agree on you with is it seems more action/comedy than comedy with action but that's more of a stylistic and tonal choice than anything else.

And I also have read the blog. The producers didn't say they wanted Napoleon Dynamite" meets "Pinapple Express." They suggested those as reference points (which is kind of confusing, given the premise) and then said that they wanted something "light, fun, and adventurous" but that writers were free to take the suggestions or not because the best pages regardless would win. And the main thing they wanted was something that makes you ask "what happens next?"

cowriter said...

Well, to the anonymous poster that called me a moron, I can safely say now, five entries later, that the cowrite script contest can now safely be labeled a complete and utter failure.

Each entry has only gotten worse, and the contest organizers actually think that the script is great. I want to know where they buy their cool aid at! :)

The Patriarch of the contest, a Todd Soffian, has no credits in the industry aside from being a prod. assistant on a short film "Raw Footage."

His inexperience and total and utter lack of sound judgment has ruined what could have been a fun, or interesting contest.

It's almost like the contest has become a reality show. Much like most of the contestants on "Hells Kitchen" have no place even being on the show, or cooking in any restaurant, the winners of this contest (so far) have no business winning the contest, nor have the talent to be professional writers.

Go ahead and read the script, I freakin' DARE you. I am not responsible if your IQ drops 30 points after reading the script.

What is amazing is that the script has been given a pass by every pro that has been asked each week to give their take on the script.

This week's "ScriptXpert" analysis was laughably bad.

"To conclude, I have been asked to suggest where I think the script should go following this week’s winning pages. Well, those pages certainly left me licking my lips in anticipation for what I hope will be a riotously funny encounter between Raul and Bobo, who I am almost certain is going to turn out to be a big, mangy, borderline-rabid monstrosity, so I definitely think that should happen (I also look forward to seeing Raul explain to Reign how he was bested by a dog and a kid).

Mystery Man, can you step forward and give us your take on the contest so far?

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