Saturday, December 12, 2009


The response to Adam Levenberg's previous two articles here has been positive, so he adds yet another entitled THE FALLACIES OF THE UNREPPED WRITER:

At the age of 16, I spent the summer at UCLA taking two classes, including an introduction to screenwriting taught by Chris Lockhart. In retrospect, I feel very badly for Chris, as those six hours per week (with only a handful of other students) allowed me an absurd amount of access to ask every question under the sun about screenwriting, movies, and the entertainment business. So I definitely appreciate his invitation to share this blog space and some of the information I've acquired that unrepresented screenwriters can use to their advantage.

I eventually graduated from USC Cinema with a degree in Critical Studies and then stayed in L.A. to work in the world of feature film development. During this time, I exclusively focused on writers, specs, what was selling to who, tracking down film rights, helping to build franchise properties, and evaluating books for feature adaptation potential.

When I opened up my consulting services to unrepresented screenwriters last year, I was surprised to hear many false assumptions repeated over and over. And quoting the great Shane Black "when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you--and umption!"

The following include some of the "greatest hits" I continue to hear on a near daily basis. While I completely understand why a writer might embrace these fallacies, they are simply not accurate. As you proceed, remember that my advice is directed towards writers who have yet to secure a major literary agent or manager in Los Angeles.


A successful comic book writer recently moved to Los Angeles and asked me how he could find paid jobs writing movies. I suggested he get in line with the screenwriting teachers, television staff writers on hiatus, and successful authors who want those jobs as well. All those people are camped out behind the working feature writers, who are "in demand" by virtue of the fact they're already working. People always want what they can't have.

Writing for feature films is a specialized field with extraordinary competition. There is no such thing as career stability. Winning an Oscar twenty years ago will not sell your pitch today. There are many more experienced feature screenwriters who would like to work than actually are working at any given time. And they've got credits, sales, and pre-existing relationships with producers, actors, and executives. Until you sell a spec, don't expect to beat them out for an open writing assignment.

But if an Oscar winner's spec and yours go out the same day, guess which one is more likely to sell? The better script.


The only reason an agent will take you on is if you hand them a spec they can sell. They put it on the spec market and if successful, you're the hot new thing. The agent pockets a nice commission and tries to get you paid work, either rewriting or selling a pitch. A good agent is qualified to discuss a concept or give some feedback on a script, but its not their job to help you develop creatively (although some do).

If an agent sees promise in your work, maybe they'll look at another script you wrote, or your upcoming spec. This is not representation.


This one drives me absolutely insane.

If you can't land a respectable literary agent or manager, its a waste of your time to go after talent. It's worse than a waste of time, its annoying to everyone you're contacting. Stick to landing an agent and if they think a specific attachment will help, let them handle packaging.

Keep in mind, there are a very limited number of actors and actresses that studios buy screenplays for. Just because an actor has appeared in a huge movie, or even starred in one does not mean they have the power to get scripts purchased on their behalf. Even if you work in Hollywood, this is insider information that changes each and every month.

And nobody cares about the bargain basement actors for hire that you're capable of attaching on your own. Just because you have a letter from Wilfred Brimley's manager expressing his interest for the role of "Gramps" does not make your query letter more attractive to a production company. It just makes you look like a moron. And fuck you for wasting Mr. Brimley's time, the man is a national treasure and has better things to do then read your spec. That diabetes testing equipment isn't gonna sell itself.


One writer I recently spoke with claimed a production company really liked her script and would put it in the "keep pile". "Not for us at this time" is also a flat out pass. So is "we liked it but have a similar project".

Oh, don't forget "we enjoyed it but our slate is full". This is just a fuck you--there's no such thing as a producer too busy to set up a project.

Then there's the coverage companies, contests, and consultants. If you've paid money to ANYONE who claims your script is great, here's how you determine if they really meant it: Did they refer your script to a major literary agent or manager in Los Angeles?

If not, they may have given you an honest response but aren't connected enough to the industry to get your script to anyone important. If that's the case, why pay them in the first place? Another possibility is that they routinely tell clients they loved the script. There's a consultant out of NYC who gives fawning, glowing coverage to any spec in proper format. Most of the L.A. based coverage companies want you to feel good about hiring them as well.


When you go to the movies with friends, you might sit around after, drinking coffee and debating the quality of the film. Movies are different than screenplays and have far more elements to critique, such as performance, direction, cinematography, costumes, music, etc. Comedies that work on the page often fall completely flat.

The big mistake often made by unrepresented writers is assuming that a pass is based on the reader's personal taste. This is not the case. I once had a boss who suggested I see a gross-out comedy because the script was really funny. I asked if she was going and she replied "Ugh. I hate those movies!" Professionals keep their jobs by effectively evaluating the quality of screenwriting and marketability of the premise. Taste is a luxury used to inform what executives watch in their free time. A professional in the development world can evaluate any genre and determine which material has true value.

A great example is CRANK. The movie is a hyperactive hard-R thrill ride with limited audience appeal due to excessive violence and chaotic camerawork. But the screenwriting excellence of Neveldine & Taylor can be appreciated by anyone. They write wildly visceral action and smart, funny dialogue guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush. Whether you care enough to finish the script is a matter of taste--but the talent of the writers is a given.

This week's smash hit is 2012. Many critics have said the visual effects are amazing but the script is weak. Really? I dare anyone to find the 2012 screenplay online and read the first 10 pages. Roland Emmerich is the master of memorably introducing an army of disparate characters, their backstories, locations, and present day dilemmas while putting a smile on your face with sharp dialogue and witty banter. This isn't "good" or "bad" screenwriting. This IS screenwriting.

Hollywood knows how to spot a great writer, even if its just emerging talent. If your writing is funny and makes a reader laugh, it doesn't matter if your script sucks and you don't understand story yet--someone will recognize your talent, call you, and walk you through the process of writing another idea. Same thing if you can write great action or inspire great chills in a thriller or horror screenplay.

So if you've made multiple submissions to production companies and gotten generic pass letters as a response, its time to stop "marketing" and start evaluating where the material falls short.


Okay, in fairness nobody says this directly, but its definitely a common motivator for success.

Writers often believe that selling a screenplay will allow them to start a new life, buy a house, get a divorce, quit their job, or gain the respect of family members and friends. If you're counting on a screenplay to facilitate this change, its time to reassess your life plan. And the way you approach writing.

Writing with an eye towards a financial outcome completely destroys your ability to have fun with the process. And fun is where all of the best material emerges from your brain to the page! Writers who equate the sale of a screenplay to an outcome in their life can be guaranteed the script will never ever sell and their life will continue to suck.

So if there's a shakeup you've been waiting for, don't let the sale of a screenplay be your excuse. You know better now. Act accordingly.

Adam can be contacted directly at:


INSIDE PITCH reader Andrew Sherman e-mailed me this reflective and rambling missive on Adam Levenberg’s “FIVE TYPES OF HIGHLY UNSUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS.” He titles his discourse "THREE UNREPRESENTED WRITERS YOU DON'T WANT TO BE!"

The "Five Types of Highly Unsuccessful Writers" have at least one thing in common: they refuse to accept and/or acknowledge that the movie-going audience is their boss.

When Billy Wilder (and his collaborators) were writing and making movies such as Double Indemnity, Lost Weekend and Sunset Blvd., they were not trying to make "great" movies. They were simply trying to make a movie that would "entertain the average guy on the street."

I don't (never have or never will) write with awards, contest wins or with "greatness" in mind. I write to emotionally move an audience (whether it be the reader or moviegoers) and to engage the audience for the entire length of the script/movie.

Success as a screenwriter is based on the same principle of success in any other field: having a successful routine and sticking to it daily. Ask a writer what he was doing today, last week, last month and last year and to the degree that the answer is related to writing is the degree to which the writer can expect success. Ask Tiger Woods the same question and the answer will be golf related. Ask Roger Feder and the answer will be tennis related.

For example, the rise and fall of the boxers at the Kronk Gym in Detroit can be easily summed up by the changes that took place in the locker room before and after training. In the years when Thomas Hearns and others were winning title fights, the talk of the trainers was always about some Sugar Ray Robinson-Jake LaMotta fight that was on TV the other night. When the championships and title fights started to elude the boxers, the talk in the locker room was about some slut that one of the trainers banged or about some party the boxers were looking forward to.

Like "The Independent," who thinks TOO MUCH of writers like Tarantino, Kauffman and Smith, there were boxers who thought TOO MUCH of Ali and tried copycatting his style. The results were similar.... the copy cat gets KO'd. Both think too much of their idols to the point of throwing away one of the things that are of most value: their own voice. If a producer wants to work with Tarantino, the producer will hire Tarantino, not writer-android number 11,694.

Sometimes, "The Librarian" uses research as an excuse for not writing... he's like the "professional college student" who's always studying but never graduating into the real world. And when they do write the 171 page first (and usually only) draft, it's a mess because they have too many sacred cows and will refuse to "kill their babies" in order to make the structure work.

"The Award Winner," the ones I know, refuses to understand that he can use theme in order to make his important point while entertaining an audience with a compelling story. Not only does he have to preach but he feels he must let the reader know that she is being preached to.

When did my breakthrough script come? When I sat back and reflected on the history of my writing... from kindergarten on.

I remembered I wrote something in the First Grade and Mrs. Johnson, my teacher, put it on the board with three stars.

I remembered in junior high school... Mrs. Boyd gave the class a book assignment. We could choose any book but the book had to be at least 200 pages. The day before it was due, I found a (30 page?) Marvel comic book on Magneto and wrote the report on that. A week later she handed out the papers with the grades on it: I received an "A++" (PLUS PLUS) with her handwritten note: "This is so well written and entertaining...!"

I remembered in high school, I spent most of the semester skipping my last class... my English class. I entered Mrs. McMillian's class two weeks before the finals and she dragged me to the principal's office saying I shouldn't bother because I had an automatic F. I asked her what the final assignment was and she said the entire semester was devoted to preparing for an essay. She made a big deal about how the students sweated to prepare for it and there was no way I could pass her class. Since the principal told her I had to be placed in her class for the remaining two weeks, I asked if I could write the essay anyway.

I received an "A PLUS" for my essay on inflation entitled "The Invisible Hole In Your Pocket." She HOUNDED me about how I came up with the title, about how interesting I had made the intro and told me she wanted me to read the essay in front of the entire class. I left to go to the bathroom and didn't return until a week later to have my report card graded and signed. She told me it was the only "A" she handed out in the class that semester.

In an Adult Ed class, I wrote an essay entitled "Technology v.s. The Constitution," which explored how the current laws were out of date in regards to advances in technology. The teacher gave me an "A" and wanted to set me up on a blind date with her daughter.

I reflected that I didn't know who Robert McKee or Syd Field or any of the other gurus were when I was writing those things. There was no internet, no screenwriting magazines and I hadn't even read a script at that point. I decided that I am, indeed, a "writer" and I just needed to respect the craft of screenwriting as opposed to focusing on the art... the same way I had respected the craft of lyric writing for so many years.

The difference between a craftsman and an artist is that an artist can do whatever the hell he wants while a craftsman works within the range of some expected specifications... someone who builds houses cannot build a front door that is only three inches wide or a front staircase that is the length of a football field... but an artist can. But once the artist seeks payment for his work, he becomes the employee of his audience and needs to cater to working within the range of their expectations/specifications... in short, he becomes, or is expected to become, a craftsman.

Then I put all my screenwriting books in the closet, disconnected my computer from the internet and wrote a screenplay that ended up taking me half way around the world and continues setting me up to be considered for high profile writing assignments.

I haven't had a big sale because simply haven't written (completed rather) a script that is worthy of a big sale. It has nothing to do with the imaginary bullshit slump in spec sales. It has everything to do with what I'm putting on paper and everything else are just excuses that losers use for losing both the big game and the blow job happy cheerleaders to the winners... the winners who focused on their daily routine instead of allowing every distraction imaginable to enter their lives.

For me, it's not IF... it's WHEN and as long as I find a way to pay the bills, when doesn't matter that much because, sale or no sale, option or no option, writing assignment or no writing assignment... I am protecting my writing routine and I am sticking to my writing routine.

Okay, my once-a-year rant is over. And on the positive side... this email didn't come from the Netherlands, I didn't ask for your credit card number to help a relative in Nigeria nor did I make any promises regarding penile enlargement.


The three finalist loglines have been chosen by the twoadverbs membership. The titles are:


The loglines will be presented to a panel of industry professionals and the winner will be announced on Christmas Eve in the forum at twoadverbs. Good luck!


Send comments and/or questions to

Friday, December 04, 2009


Congratulations to James V. Simpson, whose first produced screenplay, ARMORED, opens today nationwide.

Jay contributed to this blog right after selling the screenplay in November 2006. Someone wrote to me, wondering what he could expect after selling his first script. I asked Jay to answer the question. Here's what he had to say:

First, let me apologize to the loyal INSIDE PITCH readers who are expecting Chris Lockhart's usual erudite bons mots. Unfortunately, you are stuck with me. Chris invited me to write a guest blog, which is like asking Gabby Hayes to fill in for John Wayne.

"What can I expect after selling my first script?"

This is the question that drives every pre-professional screenwriter. Visions of quiting your day job, working with talented stars and powerful studio execs dance in your head. Maybe the occasional fantasy of buying a house in the Hills and winning awards pops up.

I know because until recently I was a pre-pro.

I don't think it's possible to definitively answer this question because there are so many variables to consider.

The results of a sale will be a function of the deal, the people involved and the writer's situation. The only thing that is certain to happen after your first sale is that you will now be a "professional writer" who is earning money for doing what you love to do.

No matter what else may or may not happen because of your first sale, it doesn't get any better than being paid to do what you love.

Since the results of each sale are different, rather than offer some broad generic advice we have all heard a million times before, I will share my own experiences in the hopes that it will inspire you to keep writing and prepare you for the day when you make your first sale.

After the calls from my manager and lawyer congratulating me were finished, I told my wife. She cried and laughed and I told her to start looking for a car because it had been my promise to her that I would buy her a car with the money from my first sale to thank her for her support and tolerating me all these years.

Then I called my mother. She wept when I told her about the sale. For the first time in my life, my mother was proud of me. I don't care how much money you get, there is nothing more important than your family and sharing this moment with them.

Since my deal had been done without an agent, I immediately had a lot of requests for meetings from agents as well as producers.

This is the victory lap and you have to take it if you want to start a career, so be prepared to be in LA for at least a week to begin with and for longer periods as your career develops.

Let me pause here to say, there are many different kinds of writers with different situations and goals. It is my opinion that anyone can sell a script from anywhere, but to accomplish that and build a career you need a team in L.A. that will be working every day on your behalf. If you can join your team in L.A., on a part or full time basis, all the better.

Selling a script is trench warfare. You need boots on the ground to do it.

Back to my story.

The sale gave me street cred. I was no longer some schmuck from Canada with a script and a dream. I was Mr. Professional Writer with a studio deal. That sort of upward momentum attracts a lot of people who want to go along for the ride. I had dozens of meetings set up with Agents, some of them had passed on the script before the sale. Most came at me with a hard sell and cute little lines like, "We are in the phone call making business, not the phone call taking business".

It was tempting to sign with some of them, but I had to stick to my strategy and go with the agent I felt would best position me for my next sale and my long term career goals. They all wanted to know what my career plan was. Figure out your plan if you don't have one. If you don't know what you want, how can you know who to align yourself with or what steps you need to take at this very critical juncture in your career?

Some minor silly things to expect: Expect to be taken out for lunch, dinner and drinks. Expect to be offered water when you go into a meeting. Always take the water. You never know when your throat is going to get dry. Expect to get lost if you are not from the area. Expect to be late. Expect to need to make calls to ask for directions and to reschedule meetings.

You can also expect to be amazed and humbled. Expect to be stunned by a plaque on the Sony lot for the David Lean building.

I had a flurry of meetings with producers, many of whom wanted the script for themselves and others were just fans of the writing. All of them wanted to get to know me and learn what made me tick. These are meetings where people will ask what ideas you have. My advice is to not tell them until you and your team are 100% sure your pitch is solid and appropriate for these people.

You are in the show. Now it's time to act like a pro and be selective about what ideas you share and who you share them with. The producers will often discuss projects they think you might be right for and hope that it will spark with you and possibly lead to an assignment. But in reality, since this is your first sale, expect them to be looking for you to spec out a script or proposal.

The people at Screen Gems and Sony who bought my script are terrific. The meetings with them were not about stroking my ego. They had notes the first meeting and wanted to discuss the project in detail. They had lots of questions. Questions about backstory, deep backstory, plot, research.

It was unexpected for me. It had me off balance for a few minutes. Luckily, I had answers for them all. We also talked about talent and directors I thought would be right for the project. Know your names and know who is hot because they will want to know your vision for the project.

They wanted more meetings and ultimately paid for me to stay in town longer so I could meet with the studio execs again. I had to be accommodating and available. Expect to be flexible.

Now my life is about rewrites and making the studio's notes work. Everything else is pushed aside because this is a business and in order to remain a professional I have to act like one and do the job I am being paid to do.

At the same time, there is pressure to follow up my first sale with a second.

The second sale is what will prove my ability to stay in this business and build a career. Fortunately for me, I have a new spec that is nearly finished.

Expect to be under pressure to produce, not only for the people who bought the script but also for your career with new material. Expect to write, write, write.

Now I am preparing to fly back to LA in a few days for another week of meetings with the studio and some follow-up meetings with producers I met during my victory lap.

I'm also in the process of setting up a loan out company and finalizing my contracts. Expect to travel. Expect to need a lawyer and expect to do a lot of paper work.

That's been my post-first sale experiences.

As I said above, every writer's experience will be different depending on their deal and situation. I hope this has answered your question and prepared you for what to expect after your own sale.

Good luck.

P.S. My mother now carries the copy of Variety with the sale in it so she can show it to everyone in my small home town so if you are in Stratford and a woman comes up to you and shoves a copy of Variety in your face, you have my sincere apologies.

Today, Jay traveled to be with his family, so he could see the movie for the first time with them.

With some good luck, good connections, good timing, patience, hard work and talent, you could have a similar story. So, keep writing.

The original blog entry.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009


On December 5th, I’m meeting with the Alameda Writers Group at the Glendale Library to hear pitches. The event is free and open to the public. I thought I’d use some space here to offer up simple suggestions on pitching.

Writers at different stages in their careers will pitch under different circumstances. An “A” list writer can pitch just an idea in a room with the hope of walking out with a deal. New writers might be pitching a completed screenplay at a pitch festival with the hope someone offers to read the script. A query letter is a kind of pitch, but “pitching” itself usually refers to a verbal presentation.

In the world of screenwriting, a good pitch successfully communicates a story. Pitching is goal oriented, since the writer usually hopes there is an end result. The end result could be to sell a story in the room, land a development deal or convince someone to read a script.

Before I offer up some simple suggestions, I’ll say that, most often, pitches fail because of the story not because of the pitch itself.

Writers blame a lousy pitch on nerves or their fear of public speaking. But, coincidentally, a pitch often goes awry in the same spots the screenplay does. For instance, a screenplay with a passive protagonist (no real dramatic task at hand, no mission, no purpose) will come through loud and clear in a pitch. Although some writers are great in a room and always manage to entertain, a bad story will always come through as a bad story. A writer can practice his pitch all he wants, but he cannot polish a turd.

In Hollywood, there is an abundance of turd polishing. Go to any pitching event where amateurs hock their wares. The polishing is fast and furious. From an aerial view it resembles the synchronized dancing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wax on. Wax off. ShamWow, motherfucker. It will do no good.

However, if the story is in tip-top shape, here are some suggestions based on my experiences from both sides of the table.


Since most stories are archetypes, the listener will have some idea of what your story is about and the direction it’s going without your having to say too much. For example, I’ve read scores of scripts dealing with the cloning of Christ (usually using DNA from the Shroud of Turin). Almost each of these scripts has a scene where a main character dies and the cloned Christ child resurrects him/her. Of course, as the wide-eyed writer tells me about this moving scene – a beat he believes he birthed into literary existence - I’m already a step ahead of him.

Because I’ve read tens of thousands of screenplays, quite a few similar to the one you’re pitching, I’m going to have lots of questions (based on previous scripts I’ve read). I might ask a question about character motivation or story logic. My question might be rooted in various elements that undermined those other screenplays to see how your story avoids the trappings.

Know your story. Have the answers.


Some pitches can take a long time. For instance, if a writer has been sent off by the studio to come up with a “take’ on a novel, his pitch could be twenty minutes or longer. My producing partner and I once had a 50 minute pitch, because we had no writer attached to the project and had to provide every little detail to the story (which was eventually set-up at Paramount). The fringe industry has created opportunities for writers to pitch in hotel conference rooms under the watchful eye of a timekeeper. These pitches must be kept short, and it’s good practice. What happens if you’re at a party and you have the opportunity to pitch to someone? You don’t want to monopolize all his time. You want to be able to communicate your idea with as much brevity as possible.

Some writers like to start their pitch with a question pertaining to the story - like if you were pitching MINORITY REPORT: “What if you were arrested for a crime you hadn’t yet committed?” Or maybe just a statement: “Imagine a world where criminals are caught by cops before they commit the crime…I have a sci-fi action drama called MINORITY REPORT about a cop who…(insert logline here). The idea of a brief pitch is to NOT TELL THE STORY. Simply paint it in the broadest of strokes.

The biggest and best reason for this is that you want the person who’s listening to be able to pitch this idea to his boss or co-workers. “Yeah, so I heard a great pitch today about a cop in the near future who arrests criminals before the crime is committed but finds himself in big trouble when he’s accused of a murder he hasn’t yet committed...” Presenting your story in a clean cut, truncated version allows him to pass the word in the same manner. If you present a long and complicated pitch, he might not have a handle on it and won’t bother talking to people about it.

The best way to be brief is to begin with the genre and logline. In Michael Hague’s book “Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds,” I talk about leading with a logline. But on page 26, he suggests not to lead with a logline. He says that a logline doesn’t allow the listener to enter the world of the story. It pulls the rug out from under the story. I disagree.

My rationale is simple. A pitch can often consist of a lot of information, and a logline helps to orient the listener before the journey.

It’s sort of like getting directions from Google. They always provide a map with a marker to denote your destination. That map gives you the big picture of the vicinity you’ll be visiting. It gives you an idea of where you’re going. Then underneath, you get the step by step directions.

That’s how I envision a pitch. The logline is the map. It gives the listener an idea of the neighborhood he’ll be visiting. No details. Just the big picture.

The step by step directions that follow are the specific details. In the case of pitching, they are your story points that allow you to take the listener on a journey.


Stay on course. It’s easy to get spooked during a pitch and start jumping all over the place. Writers with a tight story have an easier time staying on track. Writers with a meandering screenplay will often meander in the pitch. You want to avoid going off on tangents and getting into unnecessary details. Only tell us what we MUST know to understand the basics of the story and characters. Getting into too many details can be confusing to the listener and she might not track what you’re saying.

Going back to the map analogy, you’re giving us the directions with a few landmarks. But it’s not advisable to turn down a side street that takes us farther from our destination. Stick with the major story points, throwing in a few set pieces within the context of what you’re pitching.

Remember that dramatic storytelling is all about cause and effect, and you want to duplicate that in your pitch too. So, only set-up things in the pitch you plan to pay-off. Leave the other stuff for the screenplay.


The best pitches are interactive. The listener is engaged, asking questions, guessing where the story is heading. However, if you’re doing all the talking, the listener can very easily tune you out, as he contemplates a zillion other things on his mind. But when the listener is actively engaged in your story, it immediately becomes more personal. A really good pitch evolves into a dialogue. By starting off with the logline, for instance, you give the listener the opportunity to ask questions. For instance, he might ask, “So tell me about the protagonist.” While it appears that he’s navigating the pitch, you’re really in command because you’ve actively engaged him.


Don’t be a steamroller, unaware of the listener’s interest level. Be in tuned to where he may be at and gauge his interest level at all times. Talking too much allows the listener to hear things he doesn’t like. Often, I hear a pitch that intrigues me. I’m ready to read the script. I’ve expressed my interest, but the writer ignores me and keeps talking – hoping to excite me more. And then he says something that turns me off – like a plot element that sounds stupid or illogical or whatever. If he had quit while he was ahead, I would have read the script. Now, it’s a pass. As a result, I won’t read his work, which shuts down a potential opportunity.

Have the common sense and confidence to know when to stop pitching.


There is another week left in the semi-finalist voting process in the TWO ADVERBS LOGLINE CONTEST. At this moment, the three loglines in the lead are: LORD OF THE JUNGLE (with 25% of the vote), HORROR COMIC (with 18% of the vote) and THE NEST (with 13% of the vote). The three loglines with the most votes will go on to be judged by a panel of industry pros; a winner will be declared on Christmas Eve.

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