Guest Post: Call for Entries - Marza Story Circus Competition

This is a guest blog post from Marza and 100 Meter Films promoting their Marza Story Circus competition. Check it out and enter the contest!

Marza Story Circus is a competition run by Marza, the new animation arm of Sega-Sammy, the Japanese games company. The competition started last year and there were two winning stories.

This is from John Williams, a UK filmmaker who works in Japan, who set up the Story Circus competition for Marza and was one of the “judges.”

“The first thing to say about Marza Story Circus is that it isn’t really a competition. We aren’t really judging stories – Marza is actually looking for stories to put into development and they had the courage to try something new – to open up their doors to writers from all over the world.

The second thing that’s really interesting is that it is a sincerely “blind” process – last year we had four hundred entries from all over the world and I read them all first without any names attached. In fact when we were doing the preliminary selection for the first round, nobody in the room knew the age, name, gender or ethnicity of any of the writers.

By the time we got to the end of the process we did know more about the writers as we had asked them to do two more rewrites, and I had had some correspondence, but by that stage there were eight people in the room, reading on and commenting on the stories – including Marza producers, directors and script analysts.

What was also really interesting was that the two stories that we finally chose were unanimous favorites. There were nine great stories in the final round, but at the end of the day everyone in the room felt that these two stories should go forward into development.(I was sad to see a couple of personal favorites fall at the last hurdle, but I also agreed that those stories were not necessarily the kinds of stories that Marza wants to develop.

So, what was it we liked about the stories? Both were very different in content but both shared certain key features – the central concept was very simple – it could be reduced to a simple logline in which the character, conflict and theme were all clear. Yet, both stories had an emotional depth, and lots of humor. Both stories seemed fresh and original.

Of course these qualities are very hard to replicate and very rare, so I wouldn’t encourage any writer to try to replicate any kind of formula, as there isn’t a formula. If the story has a character that we love and care about, if the character goes through a tremendous life-changing adventure and if they live in a very interesting world, then maybe that’s a story for Marza.

This year we’ve simplified the process a little. We only ask for one re-write, and we also want to see more shorter, sharper synopses. The best writers seem to be able to tell their stories in under three pages. We’ve also increased the prize money and hope we will get even more entries this year.

For more details about the competition and how to enter, visit the following link:


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