This is the first year Enderby Entertainment is participating as the sponsored award judge for the AFF Screenplay Competition. The new Enderby Entertainment Award is a sub-category of the Screenplay Competition and is open to feature scripts in all genres with an original concept and distinctive voice that can be independently produced under $5 million.
Enderby Entertainment will review the top scripts submitted in this category and will determine the Semifinalists, Finalists, and eventual winner. Finalists will be given the opportunity to meet with the production company during the Festival and Conference, which will be held Oct. 18-25, 2012. The winner of the Enderby Entertainment Award will receive a prize package including $2,500, reimbursement for airfare (up to $500) and hotel (up to $500) for attendance to the Festival and Conference, and the bronze AFF Typewriter Award. I was fortunate to interview the founders of Enderby Entertainment, Rick Dugdale and Daniel Petrie, Jr. Read their bios and interview below.
Rick Dugdale is the president of Enderby Entertainment and oversees all aspects of finance and physical production for Enderby. He serves as producer or executive producer on all Enderby Entertainment projects, including Cherry, starring James Franco and Heather Graham. Dugdale also serves as CEO of Tony-Seven Films, Enderby Entertainment’s thriller division; he served as executive producer on The Speak, Vile and 5 Souls and as producer on Silver Falls and No Tell Motel. Dugdale joined Daniel Petrie, Jr. & Company as Vice President, Production in 2003 before becoming a full partner in 2004. He then founded Enderby Entertainment with Petrie in 2006.
Enderby Entertainment partner Daniel Petrie, Jr. oversees creative affairs for the company. Petrie’s writing credits include Beverly Hills Cop, The Big Easy,Turner & Hooch, and Toy Soldiers. Most recently, Petrie was executive producer, showrunner and co-creator of the 13 episode TV series Combat Hospital, simulcast on ABC and Canada’s Global TV in the summer of 2011. He currently serves as Vice President, Programs of the Writers Guild Foundation and is a former Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a former Trustee of the American Film Institute. Petrie has also been an active supporter of AFF since 1997.
Matt: Both of you have attended AFF several times in the past. Care to share any memorable experiences from the Conference?
Rick: Well the best way for me to answer that would be The Driskill Bar, only because it encompasses so many memories. You can always find great conversation there at any time of the night….literally.
Dan: I’ve been coming to the Austin Film Festival off and on since 1997 — I hate it when professional obligations prevent me from going. I always have a good time, but more importantly, I always learn something, or am reminded of something, important about screenwriting, both from my fellow panelists and from the up-and-coming writers attending the conference. So my dominant memory is of how I feel when I return to Los Angeles, recharged and revitalized about writing.
Matt: Previous AFF Semifinalists, Rachel Long and Brian Pittman, met the two of you at the Conference and Enderby Entertainment is now working with them on their script, “Stranded”. How did the meeting initially happen and what followed?
Rick: Well as I answered above, it all happened at the Driskill bar. Dan and I were there having a cocktail as Brian Pittman approached us and then when on to tell us about their script Stranded. We agreed to read it. We loved it and then over the course of the next 6 months we developed it with them and agreed to option it and produce it.
Dan: I always suggest to newer screenwriters that, rather than ask someone to read your script, it’s much better if that someone asks you if they can read it. As I remember it, Brian and Rachel handled it in just that way. They weren’t pushy, but they told us enough about the screenplay and how they came to write it that Rick and I asked if we could read it. And of course it didn’t hurt that their screenplay was a Semifinalist.
Matt: What excites you when you read a script and what advice would you give to writers wanting to enter in the Enderby Entertainment Award category?
Rick: I would say a great hook. Something fresh with great characters that we haven’t seen before. As for advice be realistic. It needs to be a makeable film that can be to a wide appeal in order to have options for financing. As much as I love hockey, a small indy drama about a hockey family is going to be a tough film to finance and get distribution. Same could be said for lawn bowling.
Dan: Audiences want to see something they haven’t seen before in quite the same way — that’s true whether the film cost $250 thousand or $250 million to make. I’m excited when I read a script that offers a fresh take, that gives us an original and distinctive voice, that brings to life unexpected characters in novel situations.
Matt: What common mistakes do you find when you read a script?
Rick: No scene headings. EXT. RADIO STATION — NIGHT and then by page 35 we’ve gone through 12 sets and 5 script days with no changes. It’s a script, not a book.
Dan: Screenplays should tell only tell us what we see and hear — and we can’t see or hear the character’s thoughts. Yet I often read description that says something like, “Joe stares out the window, and we can tell he’s thinking of that time in Barcelona…
Matt: Why should someone submit a script to AFF?
Rick: First and foremost, because you should try every angle to get to AFF. We tell every writer we know to submit their scripts to AFF in the hopes that their script will make it through and that we’ll see them there, not to mention the vast learning experience it is for many writers that attend. AFF has always been the best place to go if you’re a screenwriter.
Dan: Screenwriters starting out always have questions about how to get people in the industry to want to read their scripts. Well, one of the best ways is to win or place high in a prestigious screenwriting competition, and the Austin Film Festival’s competition is one of the most prestigious. And besides, as Rick points out, you get to go to the Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriting Conference, an outstanding experience for screenwriters at every career level.
To enter in the Enderby Entertainment Award, you must first enter in the Drama or Comedy screenplay categories. If you have already submitted in the competition but did not opt to be considered for the Enderby Entertainment Award, e-mail Matt at email@example.com to request to have the category added to your entry.
Click HERE to submit your screenplay. June 1st is the FINAL deadline. Good luck!
~Matt Dy, Screenplay & Teleplay Competition Director