William Goldman famously said about Hollywood “Nobody knows anything” and I think online screenwriting forums are good evidence of this. I have always tried to avoid them, convinced that they are, well, a waste of time. If I am going to be a screenwriter, I better spend more time writing for the screen than writing for other screenwriters. The best thing I have done for my screenwriting career is to start this blog and seek out other bloggers. Instead of spending time in the local pub—the “forums,” I have my own castle “the blog,” where I can express myself free of charge and without threat of flamers or dullards. It’s nice here, huh?
But is this the right move? Are there screenwriting forums I have missed? I decided to check out three to make sure I’m not missing out. I was a bit surprised by what I found—I even enjoyed some of them!
In the comments, let me know other screenwriting forums I should be checking out.
The Artful Forum
This one may be the first I was directed to as a young screenwriter all of five months ago. Connected to Craig Mazin and Ted Elliot’s blog, it features lively, moderated discussion, mostly about the craft of screenwriting. The “Ask a Pro” section of the forum seems like the coolest part of the site. I sifted through a thread with Ted Elliot and he did provide some decent replies to questions from members, who mostly asked about Pirates of the Caribbean. As much as he may have preferred to talk about something else, he did answer those questions.
The worst part are the judgmental, mean people who if you have a question, will look down on you and sort of make fun of you. For example, The Alameda Writers Group announced an event the other day on the blog. Instead of taking the poster seriously, the forum spent two days debating the grammar of the entry. Perhaps the Group posted in the wrong part of the forum, perhaps no one wants to go to the event, but still, not OK to be mean.
Opinion: I would look through this for information but think twice before posting. It’s not worth the effort to just be dissed or called a noob.
The Wordplay Forums are run by the prolific Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio. Unlike the Artful Forum, there are no categories for posts so it is one long line of topics. That written, the conversations I read this morning seem rather focused and helpful. I checked out one on contests that gave some good feedback on which to apply to; this is needful information for me as I just finished my first feature-length last month. It’s much less snarky than other screenwriting forums and may be worth checking out.
The downside: the threads are difficult to follow and not being powered by vBulletin like the Artful (or Celtx) Forums, they are simply a collection of links that take a bit of time to load. Before I subscribe to this one, I would like an improvement in readability. There are helpful links/advice on this board, you just have to search for it.
This is a hidden gem for me. Maybe it’s because I like Celtx so much, I just think that the people who use this free screenwriting software program must be pretty agreeable people. At its best, the Celtx Forums are a big party; threads include titles such as “The Original Skype Conference Call Thread (now UPDATED!)” and “How many people will jump in Celtx IRC chat?” It’s as if the members can’t get enough of each other on the board and need more outlets to talk and chill.
I am interested but a little afraid of the “Script Reviews & Collaboration” section. While seemingly very Web 2.0, I am not ready to put my script out there for strangers to read. This is strange, because ultimately I would like thousands of people to see it. Yet I do not think I can get the best sort of criticism online; I would have to know someone and trust that person before I could simply write him or her with my script. I have been burned too many times before. I like that this option exists and I have seen this on other forums, but I just don’t know. I’m not ready.
OK, time to share your experiences in the comments. Thanks for reading.