Catch your big break: The best screenwriting competitions to enter in 2019
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.
ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship
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. The early deadline for their sixth annual competition passed in November, but you still have until the end of January to hit the regular deadline. The absolute final cutoff is February 28th, so you’ve still got two months to polish your masterpiece.
PAGE International Screenwriting Awards
2019 marks PAGE International Screenwriting Awards contest’s 16th anniversary. You’ve gotta be quick if you want to get in with a chance for this year’s submissions (deadline is April 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.
If you think you have a winning script ready to go, send it in before January 15th to qualify for the early entry discount. After that you’ve got three months to go crazy before the last-minute entry deadline on April 15th.
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 about to announce its winners from last year in a couple of weeks. Submissions are currently closed, but you can opt to receive notifications from their website when things are firing up again. TV writer? Get involved!
Slamdance Screenplay Competition
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. Get your calendar ready, as submissions open up again in February 2019.
Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
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. The competition is closed for now, but you can visit their Facebook page for updates.
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? Read all about the competition’s latest winner, Stanley Kalu here, and find their social media to receive updates on their highly-anticipated 2019 competition.
Film Independent Screenwriting Lab
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, 2019.
Sundance Screenwriters Lab
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!
Big Break Screenwriting Contest
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.”
Visit the site and sign up for their free newsletter to receive articles and updates, and even a few tips on how to win the Grand Prize.
Film Daily Screenwriters Prize
We want to hear your voice, too! Since 2017 Film Daily has been committed to the young and underrepresented talent hidden in our ranks. For those who can’t fork out premium prices, we keep our entry fees low and the rewards high, so you’re still in for a chance to win hard cash and valuable time with industry professionals at a discounted cost.
Special attention is given to topical and unsung stories, so if you have something to say about mental health, race, class, or the LGBTQI communities, then put us at the top of your list. If your work of genius is proofed and ready to go, send it our way before January 31st and you’ll be just in time for our late deadline and the chance to win $1,000! We can’t wait to read your story.
Wanna know which competition offers the best prizes? Do you need to guarantee that your script will be passed around Hollywood pros, or do you just really need some cash to fund your dream project? If you’ve got your eyes on the prize, look no further than our handy guide to all the best rewards given by screenwriting competitions right here.