View from Boulder, Colorado

Moondance wishes you a very happy new year!

Louis Armstrong sings “It’s a Wonderful World”


Send in your entry now!

Regular submission postmark dates: January 1-June 30, 2012

Check out the Moondance website for more info!


  • & more…

In addition to English, written works in the following languages are also accepted: French, Spanish, German, Dutch & Africaans. These works will be read & judged by native speakers.


Don’t wait until the last minute…get your entry in early!







Cynthia Butler, Moondance’s very popular reader will write a one-page critique and assessment of your submitted screenplay, stageplay, teleplay or up to 3 short stories. Check off the box for critiques on the Moondance entry form or at The fee is a nominal $75 for each critique requested

MOVIEBYTES.COM  Lists Moondance as

“one of the top ten film festival competitions worth the entry fee!”

Are you undecided about which film festival competitions to enter this season?  You can’t go wrong by choosing Moondance first, because our finalists & winners, writers, composers and filmmakers, are happy to discover that doors are finally opened to them, after being a part of the Moondance! Please check out our SUCCESSES page, and read our archived newsletters to see what great new opportunities Moondancers enthusiastically write to us about! You could be next!


  3. TWO BRADS OR THREE? Adventures in Judging Screenplay Entries in a Film Festival


Re: 2012 Moondance Film Festival at Sea: “We are avid cruisers and look forward to this opportunity to combine our two loves: writing and cruising! ~ Jan Rogers, 2011 feature screenplay for kids semi-finalist & Bruce McCay

“I understand that your mission is what separates you from other film festivals. I think it’s very interesting that you consider music and writing to be just as important as films. I haven’t heard of another film festival which places so much emphasis on music. I get the impression that one of the goals of your festival is to help up-and-comers, especially those who are marginalized by Hollywood because of their gender or the kinds of stories they want to tell. It sounds like you try your best to help the artists and help them be recognized, (and) that accessibility to the film festival experience is something you care about.” ~ Thuongvu Ho, film student at the University of California, Santa Barbara

“Our short film, EXPERYMENT6, will be aired nationwide in Australia via cable on the program series, “Dark Carnival” on Foxtel Aurora.” ~ Michael D. Lies, Producer/Writer, ALCYONE PICTURES, 2009 Moondance semi-finalist film

“Thank you so much for your friendship, love and support. I am so blessed to have you in my life!” ~ Beverly Smith Dawson, Moondance screenplay winner

“My granddaughter Catherine and I remember with great fondness our experience at the 2010 Moondance Festival. You are an inspiration to young and old! We hope to see you at this year’s festival with our latest screenplay.” ~ Julie Bliss, 2010 feature screenplay winner

“We are very impressed the way your team runs this fantastic festival and giving new filmmakers an opportunity to display their work. We definitely want to submit our film to your fabulous film festival.” ~ Faizan Sheikh


“Gender Inequality Still Has a Starring Role In Hollywood, USC Study Finds”, excerpts from a Los Angeles Times, November 11, 2011 article by Rebecca Keegan

…one facet of Hollywood moviemaking proving remarkably consistent is gender inequality, according to a study…(which) reveals an industry formula for gender that may be outside of people’s conscious awareness. It’s not just the ratio of female to male characters that continues to be imbalanced but the manner in which they’re depicted… The USC study determined that women were still far more likely than men to wear sexy clothing in movies, such as swimwear and unbuttoned shirts, to expose skin and to be described by another character as attractive.

Behind the camera, the gender inequality is just as dramatic: only 3.6% of the directors and 13.5% of the writers …were female, according to the study. Some of this is a function of the fact that we see more males working behind the scenes than females, and they’re telling the stories that they know. Women bought more than 50% of the movie tickets sold in the U.S., according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America…(but) our cultural storytellers today are male. The problem is really…about the perpetuation of the status quo.


Adventures in Judging Screenplay Entries in a Film Festival

By Elizabeth English

21 Suggestions to Better Your Chances of Winning,

When Entering Screenplay Competitions:

Suggestion #1: Please send your submissions in early! Don’t wait until the final deadline date! Your submission can be buried under a pile of hundreds or thousands at the bigger festivals and competitions. The readings could be hurried. Maybe the reader saw one sent in earlier and has decided that’s his or her favorite.

Suggestion #2: Two words: Two brads, sometimes called fasteners. Brass brads, SOLID brass brads #6, not those short, wimpy brass-plate brads that let the script fall apart by page 40. Acco has them at Office Max & Office Depot by special order. Try to find or special-order those little brass washers (to fit the #6 brads), too. They seriously hold the script together, even to the last page. Readers curl the script pages behind what they’ve read; they leave them overnight, half-read, to read next day. Your script is roughly handled, by three or four people. Make sure it stays together through all of that! Yes, the paper has 3 holes, but put the brads only in the top and bottom holes. Writers from outside the US might consider ordering these brads, and some 3-hole punch paper, 8 ½ X 11 size, for submissions to US competitions, agents or production companies.

Suggestion #3: Covers: please use plain cover-stock or card-stock. Print only the script title & author name on the front. Any color is OK, but white, grey or tan are preferred & more professional-looking. Do not bind your script in a high-school plastic binder or one with metal bars inside. Nothing else is acceptable but front and back card-stock covers.

Suggestion #4: Title Page: Please have the first page of your submission be the title page. Print the title, author’s name, info on copyright or WGA-registration, and the author’s contact info: mailing address, phone number & e-mail address. If you change your address, phone number or e-mail address, please let the festival know this right away, so they can contact you if you win! Send e-mail addresses for co-authors to be notified of script’s status in contest, too.

Suggestion #5: Do not write the title or your name on the binding side of the script. That makes the script look old & shopped-around. The festival readers or registration people will do that when they receive the entry.

Suggestion #6: A printed-out copy of the script from your computer looks a lot better than a copy-shop’s or a Xeroxed, faded copy. Make sure it’s nice and clear and clean, with black ink. It’s actually cheaper to print out a computer copy than it is to take it somewhere to be printed, in most cases. Check every page after printing to make sure all the pages are there, and that there are no duplicated pages or blank pages.

Suggestion #7: Use COURIER 12 point font. Nothing else will do. Hollywood likes this traditional font and size because it looks a lot like the old typewritten scripts, and makes all submissions appear equal, font-wise.

Suggestion #8: Do not try to cheat by doing a “loose” script to make your script look like 120 pages. Do not do a “tight” script, to try to make a too-long script look like 120 pages. If you have a 90-page script, that’s fine. If you have a 150-page script, you need to do some edits. Double-check every page of your submission, to make sure it’s printed clearly and that the pages are in order and none are missing or duplicated.

Suggestion #9: Have someone who is an English-major read your script for typos, incorrect grammar (except in the dialog, if that’s what you intend anyway), punctuation, spelling, syntax & other errors. You could offer to pay him or her a dollar for each error found (with which you agree). This will make you really edit in advance, like crazy, to save yourself the expense! Don’t ever rely only on your spell-check program. Print out the script and read it in hard-copy, and edit as you read. Use a red or blue pen, so you can easily find the edits when you do the re-write. Spend the time to correct the errors. Nothing makes an author look more lazy and unprofessional as lots of un-edited errors in your submission.

Suggestion #10: Format: use the standard script format found in books on the subject and in computer screenwriting programs, such as Final Draft. Don’t customize it. Use correct, standard spacing between elements and in all four of the margins.

Suggestion #11: I would love to see the second page of your submission be the logline and mini-synopsis! Film festivals and prodco readers don’t usually ask for this, or require it, but it would make reading the screenplay a lot easier and more enjoyable. Plus, if your logline is great, it induces the reader to put your screenplay submission at the TOP of his or her pile of must-read-now.

Suggestion # 12: Give your submission a GREAT title! Make it stand out and be memorable. Read the Moondance e-zine article on Titles & Loglines, for some good suggestions.

Suggestion #13: Don’t send in long résumés and lists of credits or info about your other festival wins with your entry forms and submission. It won’t help you win. It won’t (or shouldn’t) influence the readers and judges, because each festival has different criteria.

Suggestion #14: Entry fees: Attach the check or money-order with a paper-clip (don’t staple it in) to the front of the entry form. If it’s a US festival or competition, make sure the funds are in US dollars. Don’t just toss the entry fee into the bottom of the envelope. When sending a money-order, write your name on it, so we know who it’s from. When sending a check from someone else, write your name on it, and the script’s title, for the same reason. If you pay the entry fee via (WAB), be sure to note your tracking number on the script.

Suggestion #15: Mailing: use the simplest packaging form possible, one that’s easy and quick to open. Don’t tape it together as if the contents were made of gold. Avoid the use of those envelopes that are full of grey fluffy kapok that gets all over desks and clothes and the floor when the reader has finally managed to slice it open. A script generally does not need a padded envelope.

Suggestion #16: Postage: use enough postage to cover the cost of mailing. Most festivals and competitions want to read a screenplay in hard-copy, but will not pay any postage due, and your entry will probably be returned to you, un-opened.

Suggestion #17: Entry forms and release forms: Please fill them out CLEARLY in black ink. Sign them. Print them, rather than using fancy cursive writing in purple or pink ink. Make sure your e-mail address is clear. If you use (WAB), be sure to note your tracking number on the script, as this gives the festival judge all the info needed, when they track your submission.

Suggestion #18: Remember to enclose the entry form, release form and entry fee with your script in the same envelope.

Suggestion #19: If sending your submission from a country outside the US, please note on the customs form that it is a commercial sample, so no customs fee will be charged to the festival, agent or production company.

Suggestion #20: Do not send an SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with your submission if the festival or competition announces that they will not return any entries or submissions. You’ll be wasting the postage.

Suggestion #21: Make sure your entire submission package is reader-friendly!

Every one of the above 21 suggestions are based on personal experience of mistakes former entrants made when submitting materials to Moondance or to other festivals and competitions.

As for the content of your screenplay; structure counts, usually. Have a clear Act I, II, and III. Try to hook the reader on the first page! Make the first five (or ten pages at most) be Act I, wherein you introduce all the main characters and show the reader the who, what, where, when and why of your story. Notice that I said SHOW. Telling is not so good. Film is a visual medium and you should actually be writing a FILM, not a script.

Act II is the rest of the story, where you build on what you started, and it climaxes at the clear end of Act II. Act III should be five or ten (max) pages, where all characters have been accounted for, and all loose ends are tied up and all conflicts are resolved.

Make sure you’ve defined your characters and have given them unique descriptions and qualities special to them, so they are recognizable as individual people and have depth. Same with the dialog. Don’t have every character speak the same. Or as you speak. Let the environment and ambience of the settings be shown. Show people as they would be in real life.

“Peaceable Kingdom”, Jenny Stein, director, 2009 feature doc film winner

Remember foreshadowing of events and situations! Mention the weather and seasons and time of day or night. Make sure your characters develop throughout the story, and visibly REACT, according to their personalities, to the situations, each other, and to dialog spoken to them. Don’t end scenes with just dialog; show some action or reactions to end the scene.

Have lots of conflict in action and emotions, whether personal, local, national, or world-side…or even universal. Then resolve that conflict at the end. And don’t forget to tie up all loose ends in the story, in or by the final scene.

“Alice in Wonderland” illustration by Tenniel

Avoid clichés in characterizations, dialog, actions and reactions. Do something new and interesting. Avoid like the plague having your actors speak long lines of exposition or explaining! Actors and directors and the audience never want to hear a character verbally explaining, on and on, what he or she is thinking, planning, worrying about, or is going to do, or did in the past. Action! Show it, don’t tell it!

Every word of dialog and every word of action and exposition in your screenplay must move the story forward toward its conclusion. Every scene must move the story forward. The screenplay should read like a good novel, and the reader should not want to put it down until the end.

Remember foreshadowing and transitions. Each scene should flow into the next, logically, or be hinted at in a previous scene. Don’t make the reader wonder where we are in this scene. Lead them into it. If your two characters will be going out for pizza in the next scene, or are going to rob a bank, hint at that in the previous scene(s). Set it up for the pay-off. You can have many set-ups and pay-offs in every scene, all adding to deeper characterizations, and moving the story forward and building toward the ending pay-off, which resolves the conflicts.

“Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother”

It’s perfectly OK if the reader and the audience knows, or think they know, what will be happening in your story, by the first 5 pages or five minutes. That’s what Act II and the final scenes are for. You’re not writing a mystery novel where lots of plot-points are hidden, to be revealed later. Think of all the movies you’ve seen where you just know the two leads will fall in love by the end, or that the bad-guy will bite the bullet at the end, but you’ve looked forward to see how the story and characters develop.

James Dean, “Rebel Without a Cause”

Consider writing your dialog and scenes for specific actors you may have in mind, and imagine them reading your script to see if they’d like to play the parts. Give the stars and lead characters the best lines and the best action. Try to write memorable dialog &/or memorable action. The actors and the directors love it and this stuff sticks in the audiences’ minds. Remember, somebody has to spend millions of dollars on your idea, if they like it. It has to make them a profit. Most studios and production companies are not only in the business of making movies; they’re primarily in the business of making MONEY.

Judy Garland, “The Wizard of Oz”

Don’t write a director’s or production script. Don’t have scene numbers on the sluglines. Don’t use CUT-TO or DISSOLVE-TO at all. No camera angles, unless it’s vital. You’re not the director of photography, cinematographer, nor the film’s editor. MORES & CONTINUEDs at dialog and scene breaks are not needed anymore. Keep dialog and scenes on the same page: don’t break a block of dialog or a scene at the bottom of a page and continued on the next page.

Don’t direct the actors. You’re the screenwriter, not the film’s director. Too many parentheticals don’t allow the actors to do their jobs.  Try to keep the number of sluglines to 85-100, max. Each scene change during the shoot is very time-consuming and costs a lot of production money.

And finally: The more professional and reader-friendly your entire submission package is, the better your chances are of winning a competition and of selling that screenplay. Remember, when entering a competition, if your script wins or is a finalist, or even a semi-finalist, producers and agents will ask you for it, and the festival will want to be proud to have selected your screenplay!

“Wallace and Gromit” animation, UK


A sunbeam to warm you,

A moonbeam to charm you,

A sheltering angel,

So nothing can harm you.

~ Irish Blessing

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

What saying would you chisel into the stones of your palace?

As a solid rock is not shaken by a strong gale, so a wise person remains unaffected by either praise or censure. ~ Buddha

Drawing by Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919)

Many of life’s failures are merely those who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ~ Thomas Alva Edison

I can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. It’s all in how you look at it. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Romantic Rue, Paris, France

“It is more important to know where you’re going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement.” ~ Mabel Newcomer

The Oracle Shell, Asian

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ~ James Baldwin

Unicorn Tapestry, 15th century, Musee de Cluny, Paris

“Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade before the public. Never clothe them in vulgar or shoddy attire.” ~ George Crane

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it is right, you will probably never do much of anything.” ~ Win Borden

Mahatma Gandhi

All you rule-breakers, you misfits & troublemakers, all you free-spirits & pioneers… Everything that the establishment has told you is wrong with you – is actually what’s right with you! Wayseers are the change engines of society. Wayseers are the one’s who know first, who sense earliest the disturbances in the fabric of human affairs – the trends, the patterns, the fashions, the revolutions that are afoot, the coming groundswells. Some Notable Wayseers: Albert Einstein, The Dalai Lama, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, Mahatma Gandhi, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Amelia Earhart, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa…

~ Go here:


~~~The Art of Doing Nothing~~~

Doing nothing can be a waste of time, or it can be an art form. Here’s how to become a master, and in the process, improve your life, melt away the stress and make yourself more productive when you actually do work. Start small; doing nothing, in the true sense of the word, can be overwhelming if you attempt to do too much nothing at once. Do small nothings at first. Now, close your eyes, and do nothing. Then read more at:

HEIFER, INTERNATIONAL: Heifer envisions a world of communities living together in peace and equitably sharing the resources of a healthy planet. Heifer’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope. As people share their knowledge, resources, and skills – an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe. This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on and has continued for over 65 years. Today, millions of families in 128 countries have been given the gifts of self-reliance. Instead of buying more “stuff”, choose a meaningful gift to give a loved one and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant.


Che Guevara

Please watch this important & passionate video!

Elizabeth English & Mchael Bavota at MIFF 2011


Arthur Kanegis, on location

“In Baja this year I enjoyed the fun of being an extra in “Little Boy” a new movie coming out next August about a young boy who moves mountains to end World War II and bring his dad home from a POW camp. It was exhilarating to be on a crowded street, all whooping for joy celebrating the end of a war!” ~ Arthur Kanegis, Moondance feature screenplay & short doc film winner,


Dear Friends of Moondance International Film Festival: Please seriously consider helping support Moondance’s on-going efforts to promote, inspire and encourage the world’s independent filmmakers, writers and composers, with a financial donation to start off the new year right! Your contribution makes it possible for us to enlighten, inspire, enrich, educate, and entertain through film, writing & music. Any donation amount is greatly appreciated.

A donation of $1000 or more, to help fund our 2011 film festival, will put your name, or your company’s name, in the Moondance credits as a co-producer: on our website, in the newsletters, and in the festival print program!

Thanks a million!



SPECIAL LIMITED-TIME OFFER*! Anyone who donates $1000 (or more) in 2012 to support Moondance’s continuing efforts to help make the world a better place through film, writing & music, will receive this brand-new, beautiful custom-made Luna Guitar with Victorian-era Mermaid art on both sides as a gift for your generous, much-appreciated financial support!




Would you like to host the best of Moondance films & workshops in your community, anywhere in the US and the world? Bring Moondance to your area! Contact Elizabeth English now at to discuss the details and fabulous benefits!


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