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The Best Screenwriting Fellowships to Launch Your Career in 2023.

The ready-made springboards into the TV and feature film industry.

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by Script Reader Pro in Best Screenwriting Contests
May 19, 2022 12 comments
best screenwriting fellowships 2020

The best screenwriting fellowships to enter in 2023. 

Screenwriting fellowships are often the springboards that allow emerging talented writers to break in and launch their careers.

But, with so many out there, how do you know which ones are really worth the time and effort it will take you to craft an awesome application?

What are the screenwriting fellowships that will allow you to really hone and develop your skills while offering access to the best networking opportunities in the industry?

Very few of them really provide this career boost—but we know the ones that do.

Before applying to every fellowship you come across, take a look at the list below of the top ten screenwriting fellowships 2021.

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Best screenwriting fellowships #1: Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

Up to five fellowships of $35,000 are awarded every year to up-and-coming screenwriters, making the Academy Nicholl Fellowship a really fantastic opportunity for writers.

But writers don’t just receive cash—they take part in ceremonies and seminars during the November awards week. This gives them the opportunity to network and make really valuable connections with producers, directors and other writers.

It’s expected that screenwriters complete at least one feature film screenplay in the Fellowship year and payments of the prize money are made quarterly as the screenplay progresses.

Who can apply and how?  

Writers apply for this screenwriting fellowship online by completing an application form and submitting a PDF script.

The script should be between 70 and 160 pages, with the Academy Nicholl recommending a length between 80 and 125 pages.

Up to three scripts can be submitted each year but, because this is one of the best screenwriting fellowships for new writers, applicants can’t have received more than $25,000 in lifetime earnings for their film or television writing before the competition ends.

Scripts go through up to four judging rounds, with finalists notified in September.

Application deadlines [OPENING SOON FOR 2023].  

Closing date and entry fee TBA. Click the link below to keep up to date. (Accredited college or university students studying full-time can get a discount on their entry fee.)

Check out the Academy Nicholl Fellowship >>

Best screenwriting fellowships #2: ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship.

The ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship has an incredible track record of developing emerging screenwriters and connecting them with managers and agents.

The program consists of an all-expenses-paid trip to LA, and a week of mentorship and meetings with execs, agents, managers, producers and Oscar-winning writers. Writers are also connected with past recipients who provide ongoing peer mentorship and support.

Past ScreenCraft Fellowship recipients have gone on to staff in TV writers’ rooms at CBS, Warner Bros. and Amazon, and been hired to write for Netflix and Universal.

Almost all ScreenCraft Fellowship winners have signed with top management companies and agencies in Hollywood.

Who can apply and how?  

Applications are open to English-speaking film and television writers worldwide who are 18 years of age or older.

Writers must apply with a writing sample (feature film or TV pilot script) and an optional cover letter.

Application deadlines. [OPENING SOON FOR 2023]. 

Closing date and entry fee TBA. Check the link below for up-to-date information on when the next ScreenCraft fellowship begins accepting applications.

Check out the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship >>

Best screenwriting fellowships #3: Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

The Sundance Screenwriters Lab is on this list of the best screenwriting fellowships 2020 for a reason.

It’s one of the most prestigious, with just 15 lucky screenwriters selected to participate in the five-day workshop and mentoring from esteemed Creative Advisors in Utah.

The Sundance Screenwriters Lab allows writers to really get stuck into the creative process and create bold new work.

Plus, all writers participating in the Lab from January 15-20, 2021 will receive a super-useful program of support as they advance their careers following the incubation of their scripts.

Who can apply and how?

Applications are open to solo writerswriter/directors, writer/director teams who are working on either a first or second feature film.

However, those who’ve had more than one feature film already produced aren’t able to apply.

Writers can apply online through the Feature Film Program Development Track and can submit up to three projects in separate applications, with each application costing $40.

Writers who don’t have U.S. citizenship will need to email the Sundance Screenwriters Lab for more details on how they can apply.

Application deadlines. [OPENING SOON FOR 2023]. 

January Screenwriters Lab: Closing date and entry fee TBA

Sundance Institute Comedy Fellowship: Closing date and entry fee TBA

Sundance Institute Horror Fellowship: Closing date and entry fee TBA

Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Fellowship: Closing date and entry fee TBA

June Directors and Screenwriters Lab: Closing date and entry fee TBA

Follow the link below to stay informed of the next intake.

Check out the Sundance Screenwriters Lab >>

Best screenwriting fellowships #4: Nickelodeon Writing Program.

This TV writing fellowship offers promising writers the chance to work in a salaried role that sees them participating in writers’ rooms, pitching ideas and writing scripts for animation and live-action shows.

There are three tracks to the Nickelodeon Writing Program: the Kids’ Content (Audience Age 6-11), Preschool Content (Audience Age 2-6)  and the Preteen/Young Adult (Audience Age 11-17) which focuses on writing scripts developing ideas for a slightly older kids’ audience.

The program is considered one of the best screenwriting fellowships for writers who want to develop an industry network while getting hands-on experience.

Who can apply and how?

Both US-based and international writers can apply for this fellowship program, with international writers offered the opportunity to gain a 6-month salaried position.

International writers need to be eligible for a J-1 Visa and meet the criteria for either an Intern or Trainee.

Applicants need to submit two TV scripts: one spec script and one based on a series included on the writing program’s Accepted Shows list.

Application deadlines. 

The application window is for one month only: July 1, 2022 – August 1, 2022. You can apply from July 1 onward via the link below.

Check out the Nickelodeon Writing Program >>

best screenwriting fellowships

Best screenwriting fellowships #5: Universal Writers Program.

This is a great program for more experienced writers and one of the best screenwriting fellowships for writers hoping to gain a full-time position in the industry.

The screenwriting fellowship offered by the Universal Writers Program allows writers to work with producers and creative consultants to develop two feature-length scripts.

The year-long paid program also offers a full selection of opportunities for professional development including production processes and networking opportunities with managers and agents.

Who can apply and how?

Applications are completed online and only US citizens who live in Los Angeles (or who can relocate at their own cost) are able to apply.

There are no application fees but an original script and a treatment for a project other than the screenplay must be registered with the Writers Guild of America. (Each registration submission will cost $20.)

Application deadlines [OPENING SOON FOR 2023].

Date and entry fee TBA. Again, this one will return in 2023 but you can subscribe for updates via their social media channels by clicking the link below.

Check out the Universal Writers Program >>

Best scriptwriting fellowships #6: CBS Writers Mentoring Program.

This CBS Writers Mentoring Program doesn’t just allow writers to develop scripts, it provides them with a dedicated mentor who guides them through the creative process.

After the eight-month program, each writer takes part in a 16-week workshop designed to open doors within the television business and allows them to gain access to producers, managers, agents and executives.

Designed to help diverse writers break in and get a foot on the ladder, this screenwriting fellowship should be top of your list if you’re a new writer hoping to write for television.

Who can apply and how?

Writers can submit two writing samples, including a stage play, short fiction story, original pilot or spec script, using an online application form.

International applicants are welcome but writers will need to pay for their own travel and accommodation.

Application deadlines [OPENING MARCH 2023].

Date and entry fee announced in March 2023. Follow the link below for updates.

Check out the CBS Writers Mentoring Program >>

best screenwriting fellowships

Best screenwriting fellowships #7:  Warner Bros Writing Workshop.

The Warner Bros. Television Writing Workshop ultimately offers chosen applicants the chance to become a staff writer on a television show produced by Warner Bros.

This is among the longest standing of the best screenwriting fellowships, having been running for over 40 years and up to eight lucky writers are selected each year.

The workshop runs October through March and includes weekly meetings, lectures and simulated writers’ rooms designed to help writers create a new spec script.

With thousands of hopeful writers applying each year, the stakes are high for this fellowship.

Who can apply and how?

Writers can apply for the Warner Bros Writing Workshop online and their application will need to include a resume, personal statement and either a comedy or drama spec script for a show on the Accepted Shows list.

Writers over the age of 18 who can work in the US and haven’t already been a staff writer on a show can apply.

Application deadlines.

Deadline to apply is fast approaching: May 31, 2022 at 6:00 pm PDT

Check out the Warner Bros Writing Workshop >>

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Frequently asked questions on the best screenwriting fellowships.

Q. Are screenwriting fellowships worth it? 
A. Definitely. You have nothing to lose by applying and the ones on this list, at least, will open doors that are very hard to get through in the real world.

Q. What degree is best for a screenwriter?
A. If you’re thinking about going to college to study screenwriting, an MFA is definitely the way to go. Some of the best screenwriting MFAs are taught at UCLA, USC and the AFI. For more information, we have a post on the Best Screenwriting Courses in the US, Canada and Worldwide.

Q. What do screenwriters earn? 
A. How long is a piece of string? It all depends on whether you’re WGA registered, the gig, the turnaround time, etc. For more detailed info, follow this link to our post, Screenwriting Salary: Average Earnings and Managing Money as a Writer.

Q. What are the best screenwriting competitions? 
A. The Nicholl is the holy grail of screenwriting contests but there are a few other great ones out there too. Read more about them here: The 6 Best Screenwriting Contests to Supercharge Your Career.

What about all those other screenwriting fellowships, like at NBC, HBO and Disney?

Good question. A number of the best screenwriting fellowships seem to have fallen off the radar in recent years.

Whether they’ll return is anyone’s guess, but here’s a list of some scriptwriting fellowships that you may want to check in with periodically to see if they start up again:

Annual Black List Feature Lab

Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship

Disney ABC Screenwriting Fellowship

NBC Late Night Writers’ Workshop

WarnerMedia Access Writing Program (formerly HBO Access Writing Fellowship)

Best screenwriting fellowships: conclusion. 

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it includes all the best screenwriting fellowships 2023—the ones that should be on your radar this year.

If you’re a television or film writer, you’ll want to ensure you complete your application way ahead of time.

To make sure you don’t miss any deadlines, check out our Screenwriters’ Calendar which lists closing dates for the screenwriting contests, labs, festivals and courses that you need to know about.

best screenwriting fellowships 2020

Liked this post? Read more on the best screenwriting fellowships, contests and courses…

Best Screenwriting Contests To Supercharge Your Career in 2020

Best Screenwriting Courses in the US, Canada and Worldwide

Script Writing Courses: Kickstart to a Writing Career or a Waste of Money?

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