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By Shanee Edwards · January 11, 2023
So, you’re ready to take your screenwriting career to the next level by entering screenwriting competitions. Congrats! We’re here for it.
Luckily, there are a lot of screenwriting competitions to choose from, but — which ones should you choose?
To make your job a little easier, we compiled a list of the very best screenwriting competitions of 2023, digging into who should enter them and why.
Price: $69 – $89
ScreenCraft offers a ton of great genre-based and format-based competitions, from Horror to Action & Adventure to Cinematic Book to TV Pilot, so there’s something for every type of writer. In addition, ScreenCraft’s juries are made up of top screenwriters and industry professionals that can not only help you hone your craft but actually help launch your career.
Price: $69.99 – $124.99
WeScreenplay offers a variety of competitions including Diverse Voices Lab, Feature Lab, Short Lab, and TV Pilot Lab to help you narrow down the playing field. Winners will take part in an interactive four-day virtual lab with hands-on workshops and industry meetings, and will learn from working writers.
Price: $65 – $140
The Launch Pad Competitions claim to have achieved a high level of success for its winners and top 100 finalists. In addition to a Feature Film and TV Pilot screenwriting competition, they also offer a Prose competition if narrative fiction is more your thing.
Price: Free to enter
The TSL Free competition is a terrific option for writers at all levels, especially if you’re on a budget. They offer Feature Film, Short Film, and Television categories. This is also a great screenwriting competition for those looking for feedback, considering they offer feedback on the first 20 pages, a first draft, or a final draft at different price points.
Price: $50 – $90
Of all the screenwriting competitions, this one is considered very reputable due to its affiliation with the Academy of Motion Pictures. Many winning scripts have gone on to be optioned or produced and the juries are made up of the highest level of industry professionals. This competition is for feature film scripts of all genres, though dramas tend to advance more frequently.
The Big Break screenwriting competition is brought to you by Final Draft screenwriting software and 11 feature script and original TV pilot winners will share over $100,000 in cash and prizes. This competition garners a lot of media attention each year.
Price: $45 – $65
Script Pipeline has a great track record for getting both feature and TV scripts by their winning writers produced. The competition focuses specifically on finding writers representation, supporting diverse voices, and championing ambitious storytelling,
Price: $47 – $87
Dedicated to the screenwriter’s journey, the PAGE Screenwriting Competition was created to help those talented writers outside of Hollywood break into the industry.
Cost: $40 – $55
Their six screenwriting competitions are designed to empower up-and-coming writers and promote networking. The competitions are separated by genre/format and include: TV Pilot, Drama Screenplay, Comedy Screenplay, Short Screenplay, Horror Screenplay, and the Inroads Screenwriting Fellowship.
Why You Should Enter
· 10 Finalists, one Overall-Winner, as well as Semi-Finalist and Quarter-Finalist accolades will be awarded
· One overall winner will receive $1,000 in cash
· A press release with info on all winners and finalists will be distributed to major film/TV studios and agencies
Cost: $50 – $80
The Austin Film Festival is a non-profit that was founded in 1994. The feature script and teleplay competition include numerous categories including the Drama Feature Screenplay presented by the Writers Guild of America East, the Rooster Teeth Women and Animation Fellowship, Scripted Digital Series, and Fiction Podcast. Just entering the screenwriting competition gets you discounts when attending the festival.
Cost: $57 – $87
Since 1995, the Slamdance Screenplay Competition prides itself on looking for screenplays with, “New, bold, and raw voices. We are looking for scripts that take risks, refuse compromise, and go places where Hollywood hacks fear to tread.” Not only do they award the best screenplays, but they also select one Mentorship Award-winner each year who will receive personal mentorship through Slamdance’s alumni network and screenwriting consultants.
Cost: $35 – $55
The Raindance film festival and screenplay competition is based in London, England, and focuses primarily on independent films/scripts. Categories include: feature script, short film script, half-hour TV show, and one-hour TV show. One overall winner of the feature competition will receive the “Best Unproduced Screenplay” award at the festival.
Cost: $25 – $40
Supported by actresses like Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, The Writers Lab is the only program devoted exclusively to script development for women screenwriters age 40 and older. They accept both feature film scripts and TV pilots.
Shore Scripts Feature Screenplay and TV Pilot (one-hour and half-hour) competitions focus on helping the winning writers to find representation on their journey to becoming professional writers. Meetings with industry professionals are guaranteed along with sending the winning scripts to everyone on their industry roster.
Cost: $25 – $100 (50% discount for Georgia screenplays)
The Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition accepts feature film scripts, short scripts, and TV pilot scripts. They are looking for, “Innovative and compelling storytelling, characters that surprise and challenge you.” Three winners will be chosen in the feature film category; one winner in the short film category and one winner in the TV pilot category.
Cost: Free to apply
“The Nick Writing Program” doesn’t consider itself a writing contest, but, “A launching pad for diverse and emerging creatives.” To apply, you must pick a focus on Preschool Content (ages 2-6), Kids Content (ages 6-11), or Preteen/Young Adult (ages 11-17), but your submission doesn’t need to adhere to these audience groups. Submissions must include both a spec script (from an approved show) and an original half-hour comedy pilot.
The BlueCat Screenplay Competition provides written notes about your screenplay included with the price of submission. They accept feature film screenplays, TV pilots, and short scripts. Writer and educator Gordy Hoffman started BlueCat in 1998.
Cost: $45 – $65
The Film Independent Screenwriting Lab is a two-week workshop held in the first quarter of the year, designed to provide individualized story and career development for emerging screenwriters with a fiction feature screenplay.
Cost: $40 – $110
Sundance offers screenwriters two programs with different eligibility requirements:
Cost: Free to apply (but read the rules carefully)
This paid Screenwriting Lab lasts one year and those selected will be given the opportunity to not only learn more about the craft through a specially-designed curriculum but also learn about the studio production process. All this under the guidance of Universal Pictures, Focus Features, and DreamWorks Animation production executives, as well as producers who have first-look deals with the studio.
There are many reasons to enter a screenwriting competition. Perhaps the most compelling reason is to get your screenplay read and evaluated, something that is incredibly beneficial if you don’t already have an agent or manager.
If your screenplay advances in a competition, it’s a good indicator that what you are writing is working. If your screenplay wins a competition, it’s likely the script will garner interest from agents, managers, and producers, in addition to possibly winning money.
But any professional writer will tell you that the cash is not the primary goal. It’s about having your work recognized in a public venue. What you do with that win could change the outcome of your writing career.
Most screenwriting competitions require an entry fee, so you’ll likely need to strategize which competitions are not only most helpful but which ones are geared to your writing format and style. For example, some competitions are separated into TV and film categories and some are specific to genre.
Read More: Top TV Writing Competitions
It’s also important to be aware of the individuals judging the competition because they will be reading your scripts if you advance to a top level.
Choosing the best competitions to enter will help you focus your chances of advancing and/or winning and allow you to budget your money more wisely.