Catch your big break: The best screenwriting competitions to enter in 2018
It’s a tough world out there for a screenwriter. The competition is fierce and the industry is cutthroat. As such, screenplay writing competitions have become a great way for emerging and established talent to penetrate those dense studio walls, helping writers to get read, find funding, and make it to the production stage. To help guide you in the right direction and sift through the fodder, here are ten of the best screenwriting contests, competitions, and fellowships that are worth your time.
Aspiring screenwriters, take note! ScreenCraft’s Screenwriting Fellowship – dedicated to discovering talented screenwriters and connecting them with producers, agents, and managers – will open submissions for its annual contest in October. Winner of the 2017 ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship, Anna Klassen, signed with WME and subsequently earned a spot on The Black List. In addition, all three winners from the 2017 cycle signed with managers, proving it to be one of the most prestigious screenwriting competitions in the industry. To apply, simply submit your feature film script or original television script, along with an optional cover letter on this application page.
2018 marks PAGE International Screenwriting Awards contest’s 15th anniversary. You’ve gotta be quick if you want to get in with a chance for this year’s submissions (deadline is May 15, folks) or you could always wait until next year if you’re still working on your screenplay. Either way, PAGE hands out $50,000 in cash and prizes each year while the industry’s most influential producers, agents, managers, and development executives judge the contest and read its winning scripts. As a result, there have been dozens of success stories over the years, including winners who have written films like Maggie and The Judge and have joined the writing staff of shows like The Walking Dead, Bates Motel, and Sleepy Hollow.
WeScreenplay is pitched as Hollywood‘s #1 script coverage service, offering five pages of feedback on your screenplay, TV pilot, or short for only $69, while also holding a Diverse Voices competition each year, encouraging stories that are told from perspectives that are often underrepresented in Hollywood today including writers of color, women writers, and writers over the age of 40. The organization also holds separate feature and shorts competitions, as well as a TV pilots screenwriter contest which is currently open for submissions. TV writers, get involved!
The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is dedicated to discovering emerging writing talent and since 1995, the organization has established a strong track record for identifying and supporting new screenwriters. Submissions are welcome in every genre, on any topic, from anywhere in the world, with the company providing basic feedback for every entrant as well offering in-depth coverage services. For those interested in getting involved, the regular deadline runs until June 11, while the late deadline kicks off the day after until July 23. Slamdance hands out a total of $16,000 in cash prizes to the winners, while the Grand Prize winner will receive $8,000 in cash to go towards the production of their screenplay.
As one of the most prestigious contests on this list, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting is the granddaddy in international screenwriting competitions, established and run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Over the past three decades, the fellowship has helped to foster writing talent and each year awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters. Fellowship winners are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars and it is a requirement that all winners complete at least one new feature screenplay in the year of their fellowship.
Budding college student screenwriters, this one’s for you. Producers Jason Shuman (Lone Survivor) & Zachary Green (Spartan) recently announced their new venture The Launch – the first ever million-dollar screenplay competition for college students. The competition will provide feedback to numerous students on their work and reward eight finalists with $100,000 grants each. In addition, the writer behind the grand prize-winning screenplay will receive a production budget of at least one million dollars to turn the winning script into a feature. Interested? Apply here.
The Film Screenwriting Lab is an intensive five-week workshop designed to facilitate each writer’s unique voice through the development of a single feature screenplay. Each screenwriting fellow will be paired with a creative advisor, with whom they’ll work one-on-one and in lab sessions to further develop their project over the course of the program. A variety of guest speakers may screen and discuss their own films, or offer insights into their career trajectories, and a final retreat offers further opportunity for individualized feedback and discussion with additional established filmmakers and producers. The non-member deadline for the 2019 Screenwriting Lab is October 22, 2018.
The Sundance Screenwriters Lab is perhaps the most well-known of all the screenwriting labs, providing a way for writers to get their foot in the door at the Sundance Film Festival and potentially even secure a shot at the Director’s Lab and other Sundance grants too. The lab itself is a five-day writer’s workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in an environment that focuses on the art and craft of screenwriting and creative risk taking. The deadline is coming up fast for the 2019 event (May 15, folks) so get in there quick if you want to stand a chance, or if this is too short notice, hold on tight until next year!
This annual, global screenwriting contest is designed to launch the careers of aspiring writers, accepting submissions in seven feature categories and four television categories. The Big Break Screenwriting Contest winners share $80,000 in cash and prizes and also get flown to Los Angeles to meet with managers, producers, and executives. Greta Heinemann – 2017 Grand Prize Winner for City Under Fire – stated, “Winning Final Draft Big Break has been an insanely humbling and at the same time empowering experience. Not only did the award show put me in front of a room filled with brilliant writers, the competition and organizers also did a tremendous job introducing me to mentors, reps, and industry insiders. It was a career changer and for that I’ll forever be grateful.”
We here at Film Daily run our own monthly screenwriting contest for finding and supporting new voices. Our competition is dedicated to underrepresented narratives such as disability, mental health, LGBTQI, race, class, religion, and more. If you think outside the box, we want to read your work! Winners will receive cash prizes, as well as professional screenwriting software from our sponsors, a 0ne hour facetime session with industry professionals, and an invitation to a special awards event within the winner’s region. Head over to our competition page and FilmFreeway to submit.