By Laura Tiffany
Entrepreneurs: Genevieve Cibor, 32; Mark Andrushko, 32; Kelli Bennett, 31
Company: Scriptapalooza Inc.
Description: They run a script contest; winners receive access to major Hollywood players and a cash prize.
Location: Hollywood, California
Year started: 1998
Making waves: Each partner has a background in the entertainment industry, from acting to writing to producing, but Cibor and Bennett, both writers, were particularly discouraged by competitions that either required industry contacts or only gave cash prizes, with no help getting a foot in the door. With a Web site on Tripod, a few contacts from Andrushko's producing background and the guts to cold-call industry players, the partners decided to change the way script contests were run.
The write people: Participants--the production companies and literary representatives who read the winning scripts--include UPN's director of comedy development and The Jim Henson Company. Final Draft Inc., a leading writing software company, cold-contacted the partners, offering to be the sponsor of the contest. "So many huge companies were receptive and eager to be part of the contest, it was overwhelming," says Cibor.
The write stuff: Scriptapalooza received 605 screenplays for its first contest--more, Andrushko says, than several well-known, established competitions received. Based on the response from writers and participants, they started Scriptapalooza TV (for TV scripts) last August and plan to start Flickapalooza, an annual film festival, this year.
First prize: "Our big reward is being able to discover raw talent, jump-start their career and give them an opportunity that wouldn't otherwise exist," says Bennett. "Another reward is our personal goal of becoming influential in Hollywood's decision-making process--getting writers and projects considered that the 'Hollywood Machine' might not even bother looking at."