Screenplay contests offer a great way to rise above the noise and get your work noticed. And if you’re serious about getting your next screenplay in front of Hollywood executives, winning a reputable contest could help open a few doors (or at least get some of your telephone calls returned!)
Below you’ll find seven of the best screenplay contests.
Best Screenplay Contests To Enter In 2019
In no particular order, based on talks with film and television executives, managers, agents and other screenwriters, here are seven of the best screenplay contests to enter.
1. Nicholl Fellowship – In terms of the best screenplay contests, the Nicholl Fellowship is probably the most famous competitions for screenwriting. Over $35,000 worth of prizes are given each year. For these reasons, it’s not uncommon for the Nicholl to get thousands of entries per year!
A Sony Executive who wished to remain anonymous said:
“The Nicholl is a real star maker. It’s still the contest we all turn to, demand coverage for, and track. If you win the Nicholl people will know your name.”
Submissions usually run from May through August with winners announced in November.
2. ScreenCraft – Over the years, many ScreenCraft winners went on to get representation from managers and agents. ScreenCraft’s writers have also sold projects to top production companies.
Jeff Portnoy, of Heretic Literary Management (and formerly Resolution Agency) says:
“ScreenCraft has, for me and many like me, become a dependable and invaluable resource for discovering talented screenwriters – It’s one of the best resources for writers who want to expose their work to the entertainment industry. I couldn’t recommend it more.”
In addition to several genre-specific screenplay contests, ScreenCraft is also know for their Fellowship.
From the Launch Pad Website:
“Utilizing our three competitions – pilots, features and manuscripts – as well as our advanced coverage services, we provide a hub that reaches far beyond a simple prize with your name listed on a site. The Launch Pad is a community of writers, executives, agents, managers and producers working together with one focus in mind – THE WRITER.”
The Tracking Board’s Launch Pad competitions have an insanely impressive track record of getting writers signed and setting up projects at studios.
4. WeScreenplay – In addition to offering awesome screenplay coverage services for your feature script, TV pilot or short screenplay, WeScreenplay also runs several diverse screenplay contests.
The WeScreenplay feature screenplay contest offers two guaranteed reads, access to judges’ scores, and over $20,000 in prizes awarded to winners. And the jury consists of actual working industry professionals.
Regardless of contest outcome, WeScreenplay will give you constructive feedback you can immediately put to use.
5. Final Draft Big Break – The Big Break contest takes both television pilots and feature films scripts, awarding eleven prizes across different genres. Winners are flown to Los Angeles for industry meetings and an awards dinner.
An anonymous executive at Fox says:
“Big Break is a contest designed for finding what kinds of scripts you want because they separate scripts into genre categories and you don’t have to waste your time sifting through ideas you’d never develop.”
Big Break runs in July and it is highly competitive.
6. Script Pipeline – In terms of winner pedigree, Script Pipeline has a long list of winners. Many have gone on to do great things from penning series at Fox and SyFy, as well as landing feature film development deals.
Evan Daughtery won the Script Pipeline contest several years ago. And it helped him gain the attention of agents and managers, and eventually he sold Snow White for $3.2 million. Script Piple offers television as well as feature contests, and a student section that has become popular.
The Script Pipeline contest deadline is late December.
7. Austin Film Festival – One of the most fun and screenplay-driven festivals, Austin wears its heart on its sleeve when it comes to celebrating scripts. With panels headlined by John August, Richard Kelly, Cris Carter, Rob Thomas, Frank Daranbont, Shane Black, and other writer celebs, this has quickly become one of the best places to get your voice heard.
Previous award winner Jared Frieder said he “loved Austin’s environment, and being at a screenplay-driven festival.”
So that’s our round-up of the best contests according to recent phone calls and emails with Hollywood executives. There are many more that have notable success stories. And there are many contests that don’t merit mentioning. What’s your favorite screenwriting contest or resource for aspiring writers?
Jason Hellerman is a screenwriter making impressive inroads in the entertainment industry. Shortly after coming out to Los Angeles after graduating from Boston University, his script “Shovel Buddies” was voted onto the 2013 Black List by Hollywood industry insiders. He has worked for top producers and entertainment industry stars including producer Michael Costigan and actor Jonah Hill. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonHellerman.