They are screenwriting labs, contests, and competitions. These yearly events happen with one specific goal: getting your script in front of the right person. Script competition can be lucrative, with prizes ranging from $200 to well over $10,000, depending on the competition. As a result, many writers investigate entering their scripts in some of the best screenwriting contests for these prizes, including getting their big break in Hollywood.
What is a writing competition?
Screenwriting competitions are a terrific approach to help you get your name out there and gain recognition in the entertainment industry. Several of these contests come in all shapes, sizes, and genres. Additionally, it’s essential to understand what screenwriting labs, contests, or competitions suit your artistic needs. One of the significant factors aspiring writers can take away from entering their scripts into one of these events is feedback from those already in the filmmaking business.
Having professional and constructive criticism on your script will allow your writing to reach a chance of being developed. Therefore, the programs offer mentorship that has helped some of Hollywood’s most incredible screenwriters today. There are endless script competitions for every genre at every experience level.
Knowing that fact would mean you must put down those screenwriting books for a time. Likewise, hitting pause on whatever insight video on film writing and story structure might be a good idea. These reputable screenwriting contests call for your script and might be the gateway to a successful writing career.
From the top, we have one of the most prestige screenwriting learning opportunities. The Nicholl Fellowship is one of Hollywood’s oldest and works in conjunction with The Academy. The organization picks up to five winners yearly, up to a $35,000 prize, and includes Academy member mentorship. However, one of the stipulations to win is writers need to complete at least one original feature film screenplay. This provision must occur during their Fellowship year.
Consequently, the organization offers several screenwriting resources that could help screenwriters’ chances of winning. These resources can come in handy because the fellowship’s rigorous process has been the stuff of legends.
The Slamdance Screenplay Competition site states, “Like the Film Festival, the Screenplay Competition is a place for new, bold, and raw voices.” Starting in 1995, Slamdance helped launch over 300 films into production. The group tends to look for scripts from writers that take risks in their storytelling with an uncompromising vision. Entries will be on the receiving end of feedback that is a more intensive in-depth option for an additional fee.
Additionally, their contest is open internationally to scripts short (under 20 pages), long (over 50 pages), and TV or web series pilots.
For the past 40 years, Sundance has inspired awe and those wanting to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. Many independent filmmakers have catapulted into recognition in filmmaking thanks to the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. As a result, the organization is seen more as a talent incubator than a competition. That’s why Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, Taika Waititi’s Boy, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs reached the level of fame thanks to the institute.
The fellowship or grants the group offer includes a 5-day writer’s workshop and programs that supports 10-12 writers or writer/directors from underrepresented communities. Similarly, the organization features a comedy course that provides a stage for the next generation of comedic voices.
The PAGE screenplay race has helped launch the careers of those who have gone to sign with top literary representatives. The organization aims to introduce up-and-coming talent to Hollywood executives. In addition, several winning writers have optioned and sold their prize-winning scripts. But it’s important to note that PAGE International Screenwriting only accepts original 80-120 page scripts or 30-75 page teleplays.
Their proven track record has been the gateway to success for multiple up-and-coming screenwriters through ten film genres. Winners take away over $25,000 in cash and prizes and a full fellowship to the Nostos Screenwriting Retreat in Tuscany, Italy.
The BlueCat Screenplay annual competition offers screenwriters a chance to win in dramatic and comedy features, TV pilots, half-hour TV series, and one-hour TV series. The match began with screenwriter and filmmaker Gordy Hoffman in 1998 and focused on developing up-and-coming writers’ talents. The group aims to attract those looking for a contest that’s an alternative to cliché Hollywood-centric races. Winners walk away with $50,000 in cash, prizes, and a doorway into a successful writing career.
This Austin, Texas-based screenwriting contest has been part of the Austin Film Festival for over 27 years. Their website states, “AFF consistently yanks newcomers from the isolation of their desks and ushers them into the bustling world of film and television.” The AFF wants screenwriters to succeed and will gladly use its platform to propel aspiring writers into life-changing careers. Additionally, the competition is only open to those writers who do not earn a living writing for film or television.
The cash prize for winning varies depending on genres and consultations with staff writers at major studios and production companies. Also, other opportunities such as introductions to agents and managers and finalists across all categories receive complimentary badges to the Austin Film Festival.
The Fresh Blood Selects caters its competition to those who specifically write in horror or thriller genres. Their annual event, Bloodlist, showcases the top horror and dark genre scripts for those wanting to discover the next Wes Craven, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, or Sam Raimi. The Fresh Blood Selects prides itself on taking in scripts from unrepresented screenwriters and creators with no submission fee. Winners have their writing staged on their annual Bloodlist, where the screenplays are given the spotlight for producers and studio executives looking to create the next icon cinema monster.
The Scriptation Showcase was created by film and television writer Steve Vitolo of Black-ish and The List fame. Entrants will receive feedback on their scripts from industry professionals to better construct a unique voice and understanding of the writing process. Thus, the competition distributes winners’ scripts to the directors, showrunners, and producers behind many favorite movies and TV programs. Fifteen hands are chosen annually to be on the world-renowned and Emmy Award-winning production app, Scriptation.
The Screencraft group has been focusing on generating success for writers through genre-specific competitions since 2013. Relevant and high-profile industry judges choose the winners who go on to work for Netflix, Apple TV+, ABC, and other major studios. Screencraft winners all join the ScreenCraft Development Program. The program offers personalized strategies for writers and a pathway to signing with a literary manager or agent. In addition, front-runners will receive ongoing professional support and a memorable trip to Los Angeles for meetings, mentorship, and personal introductions from top entertainment excess.
Screencraft states that they “don’t give out awards but starts writing careers,” and sometimes that’s all you need.
Final Draft is one of the premiere screening software, and it’s no surprise that the company offers ways to help your script reach Hollywood executives. Created by Final Draft Inc., the contest aims to provide aspiring screenwriters with industry professionals’ feedback and a $10,000 award. As a result, the advice from seasoned writers allows aspiring writers to have their scripts made into a film. Several of these opportunities have led to deals with reputed production companies like Paramount Studios and 3PAS Studios.
Entering screenwriting competitions will get your script read by executives, agents, and managers. For this reason, It’s vital to remember that many of these writing competitions have an entry fee that can damage your bank account. However, many successful writers have taken this route to jumpstart their careers, so it’s worth trying even if you don’t win—it’s Hollywood. However, someone will spend their time reading what you worked on and make a massive difference in making your way in the filmmaking industry.