Once you finish your masterpiece script, the question of “what’s next?” invades your life. Whether you want to raise the money to make your script yourself or sell it, there are many reputable screenwriting competitions worth your time. Not only can placing in a competition help get you and your script some industry exposure but there are also monetary prizes, notable awards and networking opportunities. And these contests can get your script in the hands of the people who can help get it sold and produced.
Of course not every screenwriting competition is worth your hard earned money. So make sure you do your homework before applying to any. In this regard, as a filmmaker whose script has been a finalist in multiple contests, I thought I’d share my research on (what I chose as) the best screenwriting contests. I have also included reasons why they’re on the list.
Screenwriting Competitions You Should Know About
The Nicholl Fellowship This is the leader of the leading screenwriting contests. Their first fellowships were handed out in 1986 when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences created the program. Success stories are plentiful here. Past winners have gone on to build very successful careers.
Scriptapalooza As a quarterfinalist in their 2014 screenplay contest, I can attest to the fact that this is one contest that cares about its screenwriters. Not only do they give those who place in their contest a year of representation, but they continually keep in touch while trying to promote the winning scripts to get them into the hands of the people who can help you. They are in their 20th year so you can feel good about them not taking your money and running.
Blue Cat Screenplay Competition As a contest that’s been around since 1998, the Blue Cat Screenplay Competition has proven it can hold its ground. Cash prices are offered, they have multiple categories and each screenplay submitted will receive a written script analysis, which is a definite plus!
Big Break Screenwriting Contest I’d venture to guess there are very few screenwriters who don’t know about Final Draft, seeing that it’s been a leading screenwriting software for many years. Did you know it was developed in 1991? And that they host a screenwriting contest aimed to give screenwriters their “big break?” With good success stories and great cash prices, this is definitely a good contest for screenwriters to check out.
Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition This may not be one of the most well-known screenplay contests but it’s a reputable one. It has proven success stories and offers reader comments to ALL entrants. That is a big plus as any feedback is helpful and rarely is it included in a regular submission fee. Also, they have established sponsors who offer additional rewards and opportunities.
Oaxaca FilmFest Global Script Challenge Held in the fall, this is one festival a screenwriter doesn’t want to miss. The festival takes pride in what it has to offer and great care in the treatment of those who are selected to participate. From multiple networking opportunities to a pitchfest designed for writers, this is a script contest to put on your list. Not to mention, submission fees are filmmaker friendly!
While there are many reputable screenwriting competitions, hopefully this list is highlights a few that have proven to aid in building screenwriter’s careers (and help getting scripts bought or produced). Keep writing. And best of luck to everyone out there!
Armed with knowledge learned on many production jobs, Christina Parisi began making films in 2006. Her short films have played at film festivals throughout the world and can be found on Amazon and GaiaTV. Her latest short documentary, Just Married, is on the festival circuit. As Christina seeks financing for her co-written feature script, Driving Your Mind, she spends her time working as a script analyst and writing her personal blog, Life As I Know It