Unlike most screenwriting competitions, CineStory operates as a non-profit, and instead of just offering the winner a cash prize, a couple of meetings, and a copy of Final Draft, writers from the Semi-Finalists on up are invited to attend a multiple-day writers retreat in beautiful Idyllwild, California, the perfect setting for such an event. Writers are paired with three mentors, Hollywood pros who graciously volunteer their time to read their work and provide valuable insight, feedback, and advice. The mentors also host larger group sessions dealing with the craft of screenwriting, as well as insider knowledge of the industry. It's such an inviting, encouraging event that I would highly recommend it to any writer with great stories to tell, looking to advance their careers. My writing will never be the same as a result of having attended the CineStory retreat, and I now feel like a Hollywood writing career is a real possibility because of the people I was able to meet there.
Cinestory exists to help writers move forward in their writing and their careers. The retreat is unlike anything I’ve been exposed to. Time with working professionals, to suck every bit of knowledge you can from them, which they give freely. Meetings with people making their living in the business right now, who have read your work beforehand. It’s invaluable. And, incidentally, really fun. They honor and revere writers, which is refreshing and encouraging. I've recommended Cinestory to every writer I know.
What makes Cinestory unique is the supportive nature of their yearly retreat. This is the only non-profit organization that I know of whose primary focus is to nurture and help grow writers who come from a variety of backgrounds. The staff and volunteers are knowledgeable, friendly and dedicated -- and they make it a point never to sell products or services to writers. Most screenwriting organizations seem dedicated to enriching themselves -- Cinestory's goal seems to be enriching the lives of writers.