Wondering whether to enter a screenplay contest? And if so, which one? The big players such as Scriptapalooza, or the smaller regional ones? Which are worth all your time and effort?
Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll come away with a greater idea of the pros and cons of script contests and how best to approach them.
Firstly, the cons…
It can get pretty pricey sending your script(s) to half a dozen or more competitions at $50+ a throw. In order to avoid wasting your money, we recommend not sending your script out to anyone, including script competitions, until it has received at least a “Consider” from a reputable script consultancy. Make sure you’re completely happy with it before sending it in, even if it means spending a few bucks more in order to sneak it in the late entry category.
Well, actually that’s it for cons — money. If you’ve got the script(s) and you’ve got the cash, there is absolutely nothing wrong with entering as many script contests as you can. It can only increase your chances of success. Then again, we have to reiterate that you’re script had better be in the best shape possible, otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for a huge letdown.
These can be summed up in one word — exposure. It is a well known fact that screenplay contests can provide a great way for aspiring writers to finally gain some recognition for their work. Winning a competition is, of course, the desired outcome of entering, but even placing in the top ten can gain a writer recognition, an agent, a manager etc.
For a list of the best “big league” screenwriting contests check out our Writer’s Resources area. Without doubt, the Nicholl Fellowship is the most prestigious and highly coveted screenplay award out there. Winners of this are pretty much guaranteed a major helping hand into the industry. Conversely, it’s also one of the toughest to do well in.
The other alternative is to concentrate on the smaller league regional contests, such as the Austin Screenplay Competition. The advantage of these screenwriting contests is that they have far fewer entries and so a greater chance of placing well. As with the bigger screenwriting contests, even placing in the top five or ten can result in great exposure and representation.
Whether you concentrate on the small or big players doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your screenplay is rocking when you send it in! The next major of deadlines early next year will be here before you know it, so get writing!