Sunday, March 30, 2008


Well, as you probably guessed by the recent back and forth, I'm going to extend the deadline. No rule changes, same deal: Write "Falling Hare"

Submission deadline moved... one month. April 30th.

Just to remind from the previous post:

- - - - - - -

So, by now, some of you have probably figured out what I was thinking about... but maybe you didn't figure out all of the details.

I think there are writers who can write lyrically, visually and well enough that they can script out a classic.

I am not so vain as to think it's me.

But I do believe that person is out there.

And so, in honor of this week's "Annie Awards," which also includes script writing as part of its list of honors... I'd like to propose, announce (and God Help Me, fund) the First annual Script Script That Classic Contest!

The rules are pretty simple:

Watch the cartoon. Write a script in Final Draft, or in RTF format. Mail it to me at Include your name, address, contact information, etc.

I will then log it, anonymize it (remove all names, etc.) and then submit it for judging.

And while I plan on reaching out to other board artists, directors and story people to help go through the stuff and give opinions, I would like the final judge of this to be Stephen Worth.

Pick the best of the bunch. Show script writers what's right.
And in return, you can take the worst of the bunch, and gut it.

Here's what happens when a winner is picked.

The winner will be announced, and un-anonymized. I will see that the winner is paid a "teleplay fee" for a short-subject script - as determined by the IATSE/TAG 839 rules. I think it's a little less than $2000. This may be out of my own pocket, but I'd like to see this person be paid to punch up an existing project. (Note: If the winner is from out of state, travelling to a punch up meeting would be on them.)

I will personally make an in-kind donation to the ASIFA-Archive.


Anonymous said...

[This is a kinda duplicate post. I posted the following to the previous thread without noticing that this new thread was up, and I'd like to make sure Mr. Worth sees my thoughts, as his opinion matters much.]

Mr. Worth,

After spending much of a work week on my script, then finally turning it in, I've just seen your comments here and discovered your decision to get back in on the judging -- on the condition that you essentially give us new rules as to what our scripts should look like and include, based on what you perceive that artists want.
I'll admit that I'm unhappy with having to redo my work after thinking myself finished. I'm also concerned that you might have some requests that seem extreme under the present circumstances, like perhaps not wanting us to use regulation screenplay/teleplay script format at all. Had we contest entrants known about any such "big" conditions before starting work, it might have been easy to comply. But now, after thinking myself done...

Frankly, Mr. Worth, I'd like to postulate that one reason for your basic, traditional antipathy, and John K's antipathy, to the written script system, is that given your past experiences with Bagdasarian, Nick, and other corporate producers in the 1980s and early 1990s, neither of you had the opportunity to see any traditional written scripts that were imaginative, funny, or otherwise capable of genuinely inspiring an artist. Considering the kind of cartoons Bagdasarian's and Nick's monkey execs wanted to make, that's not surprising.
I thought this contest would be a great opportunity for all of us entrants to show you what imaginatively-written scripts in the traditional format could look like. Unfortunately, if we all have to learn a new scripting format just to satisfy you now, you'll never get a chance to see such scripts.
Perhaps I'm most concerned that you'll ask for some kind of "minimalist" scripts that leave a lot of details and creative decisions unspoken, the idea being to give the storyboard artists maximum creative leeway ("some funny stuff happens here... you come up with it, artists"). You know something? I AGREE that it would be nice to produce new cartoons that way! And I think that's the John K goal. But if for the purposes of this contest, I'm going to create a script that -- upon being given to an uninitiated group of storyboard artists and animators -- might actually lead to something that looks like the "Falling Hare" we know, how many details could I possibly get away with leaving out?
It's sort of the question of whether we're supposed to deliver a recipe for the original "Falling Hare," or a recipe for a new "Falling Hare." I thought we were supposed to do A, and now I'm afraid that you might want B.

At the very least, after I've revised my "finished" script to match your soon-to-be-expressed preferences, I'll ask Mr. Marmel to give it to you together with my original, "traditional format" version. I bet other entrants will want to have Mr. Marmel do the same thing.

I firmly believe that the problems you, and Spumco as a whole, have traditionally had with the written script format has less to do with the format itself... and more to do with lame examples of that format, and/or rigid execs forcing board artists to follow those lame examples without being allowed to change and improve them. (Never have I had less sympathy for ignorant bosses.)
Me, I'm all for a system in which writers on a given series should be allowed to write OR draw their story submissions... or even a combination of both. It's neither storytelling format that I object to, or consider inherently less creative; my objection is just to the strictness of your average suit.
Honestly, isn't that where a lot of the Spumco objection really lies, too?

Grumblingly awaiting your new rules over here.

Steve said...

Yup. See my reply below: I think Stephen gets benefit of the doubt here.

Will keep ya'all posted and stuff.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I think I should have stuck a smiley :-) by the comment about grumbling. I'm hardly mad at Mr. Worth; just expressing thoughts and feelings I wanted him to consider, while admittedly being a bit glum at the prospect of having to do more work (like anyone wouldn't be?).

Stephen Worth said...

There's a miscommunication here. I didn't say I wouldn't judge the entries. I said that if the scripts were like the ones I've seen for TV animation, I would want to be able to select "none of the above". Steve replied that he wanted me to judge because I could help determine the type of script that would be most useful to a storyboard artist to work from. If that's the goal, I can definitely help. I asked Steve if we could meet and discuss the criteria for judging so he could pass it along to the entrants, and we were supposed to do that, but I never heard back, so I assumed it was a no-go.

I would still like to explain what would be most useful to a storyboard artist to work from, and if someone is planning on winning the contest, they will need to know what that is before they start work. The easiest way to explain is in person. Anyone who plans to participate in the contest is welcome to stop by the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Thursday night April 3rd. I'll explain what I'll be looking for when I judge.

Thursday April 3, 2008 8:00pm
ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive
2114 W Burbank Bl
Burbank CA 91506

We'll all go over to the Coral Cafe for a bite to eat afterwards. Everyone is welcome. I'll try to get time to write it all up, but this week is very hectic. Perhaps someone can volunteer to take notes and post them for those who can't make it to the archive. I'll also be at the Animation Nation event tonight at the Burbank Board of Realty, and I can go over it with you there if you can't make it Thursday.


Steve said...


I will try to make Thursday. Currently, I am still on jury duty (no comments, I don't want to accidentally create a mistrial) and this week is ass.

Shoot me a number off of the message board, and I'll give you a call.

- Steve

Stephen Worth said...

The phone number at ASIFA is 818 842 4691. I'm here from 1pm to 9pm Tues-Friday.

See ya

Anonymous said...

"I would still like to explain what would be most useful to a storyboard artist to work from, and if someone is planning on winning the contest, they will need to know what that is before they start work. The easiest way to explain is in person [...] I'll try to get time to write it all up, but this week is very hectic. Perhaps someone can volunteer to take notes and post them for those who can't make it to the archive."

Please, someone, do. I'm located across the country, still want a chance at winning the contest, and am disappointed to hear that location is now going to put me at a disadvantage.

I had already started work, because I presumed the contest was on. Trying to make a script that would lead to results as similar as possible to the existing Falling Hare, I included such things as stage directions: "character comes in on right, exits on left."

If I were a storyboard artist today who wanted maximum freedom, I might want the opportunity to stage things myself; so I imagine you won't want me to include detail to the degree of left- and right-orientation of motion.
Yet without it, how can my script be true to Falling Hare with the staging I'm used to?

I think there's a basic conflict of interest here.

Steve said...

Your location doesn't put you at a disadvantage. I'm simply saying, I won't be paying to fly you out here to do punch up on my dime.

And, in the end, this is my dime.

Understand this: The rules have not changed. This has always been an attempt for me to show that a well drawn, animated and directed cartoon can be translated into a lyrically written, visually thought out script.

More importantly, it's about trying to show critics of written scripts in animation that scripts are NOT the death of animation, as some people would have you believe.

Stephen is involved because he heads up the ASIFA archive - which documents the history of animation , and is one of the more staunch critics of the written word in cartoons.

I wanted him involved.

So... there's that.

I look forward to your submission, I look forward to scrubbing your name clean, and look forward to passing it along to our judge.

(Who I still haven't connected with regarding this, but I will. Jury duty.)

Anonymous said...

Wow... should this contest be judged by just ONE person? One who doesn't really make cartoons in the real world and yet who has this terribly biased opinion about writers.

Shouldn't it be judged by several artists who actually do the job... Like Jorge and Fitzgerald and Waller and Timm... That way instead of a purely 'cartoon intellectual' point of view, the decision could come from peeps who actually make them? Say a handful of storyteller artists that writers respect?

I think leaving it to one guy who plans to answer like 'none of the above' means he's setting it up for that. He's not a real judge, he's a disciple of another, one who will use this forum to spout the usual hate... sad. Count me out until you get a real judge.

Stephen Worth said...

I've invited a storyboard artist to attend tonight to help me go over what a storyboard artist needs to work from. I'll definitely be getting together several story artists to help me judge the final winner.

I've spent all day putting together the material for tonight. Next week, I will put it all together into a posting so out of towners can participate. It would be helpful if someone can take notes and send them to me after the meeting to help me draft the post.


pirsig said...

The exercise is not a conflict of interest - it's a paradox. Pigeonholing yourselves with a historicist 'classic' will not result in material that can be judged to inform the original argument. It can inform ideas about structure and form, indeed useful, but doesn't really shed light on the argument for or against scripts in animation. Using a classic just inflames the conflict.

One 'writes' or 'draws' or 'whatevers' a story not knowing how it is going to end. For what reason would you create anything if you already understood or 'knew' the destination? Where is the discovery - more importantly, where is the expectation of what you wish the audience (creator>execs>then, ultimately, tv/movie eyeballs) to discover? (ie, if you already know what happens on the trip, why are you taking it?

It would be more useful to use original material for your source and aim to debate the variety of approaches to translating the work from premise to visual interpretation. One could analyze the variety of influences that choices of words have on the process, their arrangement and structure, and the precision (or lack of precision) of their application that directly or indirectly leads to varying visual interpretations. And one could do this without the baggage of competing with an essentially stagnant collective memory.

As an experiment, one would assign the same premise to two groups working as individuals in private, one group instructed to 'write' (create) in one format, the other instructed in the other format. A third group is then given the results privately and and instructed to individually 'create/write' and 'carry' the process further, but, with also using art/visual language. Then, one might discuss the varying results between the original two groups, the different nuances, and then have a healthy debate on quality. This perhaps would be a more enlightening exercise.

(Or one could just decipher the credits on cartoons being made today and decide which process one prefers - which is what fans already pretty much do.;)