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THE BEST
SCREENWRITING CONTESTS 

 

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It’s a well known fact that many top screenwriters got their big break from winning a screenwriting contest. But what are the best screenwriting competitions?

And do you enter the big players with thousands of entrants, or the smaller regional ones with relatively few?

(Note: You can find all deadlines for the screenwriting contests below in our Screenwriters’ Calendar.)

AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL SCREENPLAY CONTEST

This screenwriting contest continues to open doors by creating a networking system for new writers to further their career within the industry.

Industry professionals recognize the Austin Film Festival as one of the best screenplay contests, with representatives from agencies and production companies participating in the judging process.

Past judges include Focus Features, Lightstorm Entertainment, CAA and more.

Website: austinfilmfestival.com

BLUECAT SCREENPLAY COMPETITION

This screenwriting competition holds a longstanding tradition of giving written notes to every screenplay submitted. Each feature screenplay entered receives two analyses, while each short receives one.

BlueCat has one of the largest cash prizes in the world for a short screenplay contest, with the winner being awarded $10,000. The Grand Prize for the Best Feature Screenplay is $15,000.

Website: bluecatscreenplay.com

CINESTORY FOUNDATION

Cinestory has an outstanding track record in launching screenwriter’s careers. Top scripts are requested by companies such as Paradigm, The Lisa Callamaro Agency, Energy Entertainment etc.

Finalists prizes include cash prizes but probably, more importantly, a one-year fellowship and screenwriting retreats in which Hollywood professionals mentor the writer’s screenplay and career.

Website: cinestory.org

CREATIVE WORLD AWARDS SCREENWRITING COMPETITION

CWA is an international screenwriting contest known for having the writer’s interest at heart when it comes to development and industry promotion.

They’ve built relationships with some of the industry’s most recognized companies, all of which are aggressively looking for fresh, new material.

Now going into its seventh year, with several options and deals signed for past entrants, the contest has firmly established itself worldwide as a leading source for discovering emerging talent in the entertainment industry.

Website: creativeworldawards.com

BIG BREAK SCREENWRITING CONTEST BY FINAL DRAFT

This is an annual, international feature and television screenwriting contest designed to launch the careers of aspiring writers.

Big Break rewards screenwriters with over $80,000 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Los Angeles and A-list executive meetings.

Winners and finalists alike have had their screenplays optioned and produced and have secured high-profile representation as well as lucrative writing deals.

Website: finaldraft.com

NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL

Winners of this contest receive an all expenses paid, month­long stay at the exclusive Screenwriter’s Colony on Nantucket; VIP week­long film festival pass to all events; round­trip from New York to Nantucket to attend; accommodation; a Showtime­sponsored reception in the winner’s honor; participation in a Mentor’s Brunch with Screenwriters Tribute recipient and $5,000.

Past screenplay jurors include Bobby and Peter Farrelly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lili Taylor, Tom McCarthy and Stanley Tucci.

Website: nantucketfilmfestival.org

ACADEMY NICHOLL FELLOWSHIPS

Generally regarded as one of the very best screenwriting contests to place highly in. Up to five writers each win $35,000 fellowships from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Place highly in this and be prepared to buy a new cell phone after your old one melts from all the industry heat.

Website: oscars.org

PAGE AWARDS SCREENPLAY CONTEST

Over the past ten years the PAGE Awards screenwriting contest has become widely recognized as one of the most important sources for new writing talent within the Hollywood community and worldwide.

Each year dozens of top producers, agents, and development execs judge the contest and read the winning screenplays. Many of the winning writers have landed script assignments, secured representation, and signed option agreements on their work, and many now have movies and television shows in production, on the air, and in theaters.

Website: pageawards.com

SCRIPTAPALOOZA SCREENPLAY COMPETITION

Past winners have won Emmys, been signed by agents, managers, had their scripts optioned and made into movies.

One of the best parts about placing highly in this scriptwriting competition, however, is that Scriptapalooza will do something no other competition in the world does: promote, pitch, and push the semifinalists and higher for a full year.

Website: scriptapalooza.com

SCRIPT PIPELINE SCREENWRITING AND TV WRITING COMPETITION

Beyond cash prizes, finalists are given exposure to approximately 200 qualified industry contacts, as well as consultations with Script Pipeline’s Director of Development and Senior Consultant.

Winners also get personal introductions to managers, producers, agents, directors, and others searching for new projects and writers; an opportunity to send other material to Script Pipeline for internal review and a reserved spot to the Secret Door Pitchfest as a recognized finalist.

Website: scriptpipeline.com

 

SHORE SCRIPTS SCREENPLAY CONTESTS

A number of alumni from this script writing contest have found great success as a direct result of entering, such as Ben Cleary who won the Best Live Short Film Oscar for Stutterer, and Patrick Tobin who wrote Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston.

Feature prizes include over $2,000 cash, script being sent to judges and production companies and a copy of Final Draft 9.

Website: shorescripts.com

SLAMDANCE SCREENPLAY COMPETITION

Now in its eighteenth year, Slamdance has a history of highlighting talented, independent screenwriters and introducing them to the entertainment industry.

The competition consists of four categories: Feature, Short, Horror and Teleplay / Webisode. A great feature of the competition is that it also provides coverage on every entrant’s script.

Website: slamdance.com

ZOETROPE SHORT FILM AND SCREENPLAY COMPETITION

Francis Ford Coppola’s motion picture production company, Zoetrope, offers $5,000 to the grand prize winner of its screenwriting contest, plus excellent Hollywood industry exposure.

The winner and ten finalists will be considered for representation by William Morris Endeavor, CAA, The Gersh Agency and more.

Finalist’s scripts are also considered for film option and development by leading production companies, including American Zoetrope, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics and more.

Website: zoetrope.com

CONTEST DEADLINES

Check out this year’s Screenwriters’ Calendar which lists all deadlines for screenwriting contests as well as festivals, labs, courses etc.

top screenwriting contests

Not sure if you want to enter a screenwriting contest? 

Check out our post on the pros and cons of entering screenplay contests.

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