Ben and Matt's Project Greenlight is only one site for aspiring scripters

By Hugh Hart
Updated March 21, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
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When Ben Affleck escorted a somewhat stunned former insurance salesman from Chicago onto the set of ”The Tonight Show” Feb. 28, it was the public’s first peek at the winner of projectgreenlight.com‘s screenplay contest. Peter Jones, 31, will get $1 million from Miramax to direct his script, ”Stolen Summer, ” about an Irish kid and his cancer stricken Jewish friend. Around the time Jones learned he’d made the final cut, Mark Smith, 35, a former dude ranch owner living in tiny Boone, N.C., got a phone call at 3 a.m. On the line: a producer who’d discovered Smith’s script, ”Devil’s Kiss,” on ifilmpro.com and wanted to cut a deal. For Web savvy writers, it’s not necessarily who you know, but which URLs you visit. Here, some of the better sites.

o SCRIPTAPALOOZA.COM Andréa Bailey’s ”Falling Over Venus” placed second on this site’s annual contest and was passed around to about 15 companies, including Marc Platt Productions. After signing with Platt, Bailey now finds herself hanging out with Mary Stuart Masterson, who’s set to direct the coming of age story about a 14 year old loner.

o OSCARS.ORG/NICHOLL More than 4,000 manuscripts roll in here each year via old fashioned snail mail, but applications for the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting program are available to download. The competition, administered by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, hands out $25,000 annually to each of five finalists. In 1998, Portland, Ore., DJ Mike Rich, 41, found 50 phone calls on his answering machine after his script made the cut. Soon afterward, Gus Van Sant and Sean Connery began transforming the script into this year’s ”Finding Forrester. ”

o HYPNOTIC.COM Earlier this year, David Von Ancken had his ”Bullet in the Brain” script rejected by Sundance. So it was ”ironic,” says the former New York City real estate analyst, when he found himself in Park City anyway with a $1 million feature film deal, compliments of Universal Pictures and partner hypnotic.com. His seven page treatment for ”Cameron’s Line” — based on a real fault line that runs through New York City — was voted best of five finalists. Von Ancken, 36, has now quit his job and is working full time on the script.

o CINESTORY.COM Bond, baby, bond. Winners of this not for profit organization’s annual con test spend three days in a California mountain retreat with producers and studio development execs. ”Need proof that relationships make for good business?” asks CineStory exec director Pamela Pierce. ”[Miramax chief] Harvey [Weinstein] is reading one of the scripts right now.”

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