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The Biggest Screenwriting Competitions

By Admin · January 10, 2019

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably wondering, “how many submissions does a script competition receive?” We surveyed Hollywood’s top screenplay contests to get a sense of their size and we ranked them by the number of submissions received annually. It’s important to note that bigger isn’t always better. If you’re considering entering a top screenwriting competition, be sure to research the success stories coming out of each competition, as well as decide on the right fit for your particular project, in terms of genre, tone and track record of each contest’s past winners.

The lists below do not include open dates, deadlines etc. If you’d like to check competition deadlines and open dates, browse the competitions on Coverfly here.

5,000+ Submissions Annually:

  1. Austin Film Festival: The most prestigious film festival for screenwriters, the Austin Film Festival’s competitions and annual conference is a magnet for top industry professionals and aspiring screenwriters internationally. The Austin Film Festival’s track record is unmatched in terms of facilitating success for their winners and producing an incredible conference for screenwriters.
  2. ScreenCraft: The annual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship is their most effective program for launching emerging screenwriters’ careers. And there’s a good chance that no matter the genre or format of your screenplay, ScreenCraft has a competition for you. One of the most popular and fastest growing screenplay competition organizations in the industry, ScreenCraft boasts many success stories for their winning writers. It’s worth noting that ScreenCraft’s competitions are divided into smaller genre-specific competitions, each with their own industry juries, prizes and mentorship programs; each individual genre contest gets around one or two thousand submissions. Last year ScreenCraft awarded over $100,000 in prizes to winning writers and filmmakers, and past winners have sold projects and signed with all of the industry’s top agencies and literary management companies. also produces an annual retreat and the ScreenCraft Writers Summit.
  3. The Academy Nicholl Fellowships: From The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting is the most prestigious award for emerging (feature film only) screenwriters. And the $30,000 grand prize is nothing to scoff at! Past Nicholl winners have gone on to write some of the world’s best-loved and award-winning films. And their network of industry relationships and mentors is unparalleled.
  4. Tracking Board Launch Pad Competitions: For a competition that’s only 6 years old, Tracking Board’s Launch Pad screenplay competition has a very impressive litany of success stories. With more than 371 signings, 127 projects set up, 59 writers staffed, 134 appearances on annual best of lists such as the Black List, Blood List, Hit List, and the Young & Hungry List, as well as 6 bidding wars, the Launch Pad Competition has become the premier hub for Hollywood discovering new talent. Tracking Board is an excellent resource for talented emerging writers to break into Hollywood.
  5. Script Pipeline: With some splashy success stories and lots of different competitions for different formats, Script Pipeline is one of the most popular screenplay competition brands in the world. They even have a “Great Movie Idea” contest for would-be writers who haven’t written a full screenplay yet.
  6. PAGE International Screenwriting Awards: One of the top competitions in the industry and also one of the best-loved, PAGE consistently discovers talented writers and connects them with opportunities in the industry.
  7. Final Draft Big Break: It’s no surprise that Hollywood’s most popular screenwriting software also produced one of the most popular screenwriting competitions in the industry. Past winners have gone on to win large cash prizes, sign with top agents and managers and option projects to studios.
  8. The Black List’s Fellowships and Labs: Better known for the annual industry survey and the website’s script hosting database, The Black List also has various annual fellowships and labs which are open to paying subscribers. Additionally, the organization chooses special projects to feature with celebrity-studded live-read performances.
  9. Scriptapalooza: For over 20 years Scriptapalooza has been hosting their competitions. Their past winners have impressive track records and their high submissions numbers is a testament to their longevity and consistency in the industry as a talent discovery platform.

Prestigious programs to consider with lower submissions (less than 5,000 submissions per year):

  1. Humanitas NEW VOICES: This prestigious program grants $7,500 to multiple recipients each year and features the opportunity to mentor with top industry professionals. New Voices accepts features and TV pilots. Mentors hail from CBS, NBC, HBO, ABC, Amazon, Lionsgate, Warner Bros and 21st Century Fox.
  2. Sundance Screenwriters Lab: One of the most prestigious programs for screenwriters, with a focus on independent filmmaking. Each year the Sundance Institute gathers recipients of this program for a week of mentorship and project development in Utah.
  3. Slamdance Screenplay Competition: The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is dedicated to discovering emerging writing talent. Since 1995 the organization has established a strong track record for identifying and supporting new screenwriters. The competition welcomes screenplays in every genre, on any topic, from anywhere in the world. They provide basic feedback for every entrant and they also offer in-depth coverage services.
  4. WeScreenplay: Perhaps best known for their screenplay coverage service, WeScreenplay also runs four competitions annually, WeScreenplay’s winners have gone on to get hired on TV shows, sell projects, sign with top literary managers and win other illustrious writing competitions and fellowships. WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices Lab is currently its biggest semi-annual program, championing stories from under-represented writers.
  5. Shore Scripts: Shore Scripts has some of the highest caliber industry judges of any screenwriting contest in the world. Their winning feature scripts will be read by 37 of our Oscar, Bafta, Emmy, Golden Globe & Cannes award-winning judges. Shore Scripts is proud to have set up Louis Ackerman’s feature script with Blumhouse. The film is currently in post-production and will be released on HULU – Nov 2nd, 2018. Louis was Shore’s 2015 Feature Grand Prize Winner.
  6. Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition: The Atlanta Film Festival has a four-decade long history of discovering and nurturing new filmmaking talent, having shown early works by Robert Rodriguez, Spike Lee, and Victor Nunez. Winners of the Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition have gone on to be honored by the Black List, selected for the Sundance Directors’ Lab, sign with representation, option their winning scripts, and write/direct critically and commercially successful indie films.
  7. StoryPros Screenplay Competition: StoryPros runs two contests over the course of the year: The StoryPros International Screenplay Contest and the StoryPros Awards Screenplay Contest. The StoryPros International Screenplay Contest is open to entrants worldwide and selects the best 5 entries, promotes them to the entertainment industry, and rewards the winners with cash and prizes to support the writer’s development.
  8. CineStory Retreat: The CineStory Foundation has always believed in helping writers find their voice. Their goal with the CineStory Feature Retreat is to assist writers in their development of the craft. The CineStory Feature Retreat will take place over four days in the beautiful mountains of Idyllwild, California. Attendees will receive three one-on-one, one and a half hour sessions with CineStory mentors during which they can discuss everything from the project they submitted for feedback to jump-starting their writing careers. Winners of their competition have gone on to pen films such as Cake, Iron man, Children of Men, Ballast, King of California, 11:14.
  9. Sun Valley Film Festival Screenplay Competition: Presented by Variety, the Lab is one of SVFF’s most anticipated events and features a moderated Q&A, an exclusive live table read, and the High Scribe screenwriting contest. Past hosts and mentors have included: Academy Award winner Stephen Gaghan [Traffic], Academy Award winner David Seidler [The King’s Speech], Academy Award winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash [The Descendants], Academy Award nominees Melisa Wallack and Craig Borten [Dallas Buyers Club], Screenwriter Will McCormack [Toy Story 4], Filmmaking legend Mark Duplass [Togetherness]. During the Screenwriters Lab, these dynamos discuss their careers, present their latest work during a live table read, and take questions from the audience. It’s an incredible learning experience for writers with unmatched interaction.
  10. Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition: Fresh Voices is a Hollywood based consultancy for screenwriters. Their annual screenplay contest and development services are designed to identify, nurture and bring to market the most promising and exciting new talent, remarkable storytellers, and visionary filmmakers of tomorrow.
  11. BlueCat Screenplay Contest: Founded by Gordy Hoffman, younger brother of the late beloved actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, the BlueCat Screenplay Contest distinguishes itself by offering feedback from their readers for all submissions.
  12. Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards: The Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards features a judges panel comprised of Oscar and Emmy level producers, directors, writers, and showrunners behind some of our favorite major motion pictures and TV-series. Among them are the Oscar-nominated producers of Ray, Ghostbusters, and the creator of multiple hit TV-series at ABC, NBC, and CBS television, as well as numerous published authors.
  13. Nantucket Film Festival Screenwriting Competition: The Nantucket Film Festival’s Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Competitions recognize emerging writers in four unique categories as the best from the pool of submissions each year. Finalists in each competition are read by prestigious juries, receive top industry recognition, and participate in a Festival focused specifically on screenwriting that includes cash prizes for all competitions and a Mentors Brunch with a prominent screenwriter (past mentors include Noah Baumbach, Oliver Stone, Robert Towne)
  14. Roadmap Writers: Roadmap Writers is always on the hunt for unique and fresh voices. Roadmap is proud to partner with production company and independent financier, New Republic Pictures to launch Roadmap’s “Road to New Republic” Feature Writing Competition! The competition, which is open to feature scripts of all genres will award one grand prize winner a guaranteed $10,000 option fee for their feature script with New Republic Pictures. Through partnerships with major studios, that include a co-financing deal with Paramount, and foreign sales companies, New Republic brings outstanding commercial motion pictures from distinguished filmmakers to theaters worldwide. Their slate of upcoming films includes the Elton John Biopic Rocketman starring Taron Egerton which will be released by Paramount in 2019.
  15. International Screenwriters Association: ISA’s competitions include: Fast Track Fellowship, Emerging Screenwriters, Table Read My Screenplay among others. ISA’s competitions are consistently regarded as excellent platforms to garner industry recognition and exposure.
  16. Nashville Film Festival Screenplay ContestNashville Film Festival (NashFilm) is one of the longest-running film festivals in the country and one of the most acclaimed festivals in the South. Hosted in Music City, USA, NashFilm attracts enthusiastic film lovers from all across the country and has been praised by film-goers and filmmakers alike for its unique combination of big city festival atmosphere and laid-back Southern hospitality. With over 300 films from 56 countries, a screenplay competition, episodic competition, live music showcases, the new Creators Conference and parties almost every night, the 2017 festival drew approximately 40,000 attendees and sold out nearly 40 films and events.
  17. HollyShorts Film Festival: If you’re writing a short film, this is one of the best competitions for you! HollyShorts Film Festival is an annual, academy award qualifying short film festival showcasing the best and brightest short films and short screenplays from around the globe. The festival showcases the top short films produced 40 minutes or less and is looking for the best short screenplays 30 pages or less. The 6th annual HollyShorts Screenplay Contest is part of the 14th annual HollyShorts Film Festival (August 8-17, 2019). All Semifinalists will be announced and invited to the festival with an all-access pass. Top 3 screenplays will be announced/awarded at the HollyShorts Awards Ceremony and the winning scripts receive production deals courtesy of The Seattle Film Summit. Top 3 winners receive Final Draft software. The completed short will screen at the 2020 HollyShorts Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood!
  18. Film Empire Screenplay CompetitionsScreenwriters of underrepresented backgrounds will have the chance to win mentorship meetings with our diverse lineup of industry pros. This mentorship will occur around April of 2019 via Skype or other forms of video conference. The purpose of the Diversity Mentorship contest is to impart knowledge on our grand prize winner through the advice and expertise of professionals in film & television industry in a time when diverse voices in media are sought after. Entrants can reside in any country in the world.
  19. Creative World Awards: Creative World Awards (CWA) discovers and advances talented screenwriters, helping them garner the exposure and recognition they need to propel their projects forward. PRODUCTION AWARD: The Grand Prize Winner also receives the opportunity to have a short adaptation of their winning feature script produced by CWA in conjunction with The Moving Image Xchange. The film gets a guaranteed premiere at the Richmond International Film Festival. CWA winning screenplays are circulated to top agencies, film studios, managers, producers, and international financers looking for their next project or writer. Additionally, CWA works with the prominent companies; all of which get first looks at our top winners.
  20. Script Summit: Script Summit is a festival dedicated to supporting screenwriters. You will have the opportunity to connect with directors, producers, and other writers at the Script Summit Networking Event. The Summit also hosts Q&A panels, seminars, table reads of selected scripts, an awards dinner, and over $1,500 in cash prizes! These events are held side by side at the Brenden Theaters in the Palms Hotel in the beautiful Palms Casino/Hotel/Resort in downtown Las Vegas.
  21. Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge: Yes, the “go-to” book and methodology in screenwriting has launched their first screenplay competition! The Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge is uniquely positioned to deliver a competition that uses the same language the writer, the reader and the decision makers use when analyzing screenplays. All entrants receive a 50 Point Analysis Report adapted from the Save the Cat! bestselling books at no additional cost.

And the #1 submissions management platform for screenplay competitions is our very own service: Coverfly.

Since launching just over a year ago, Coverfly has accepted over 50,000 submissions for approximately 30 of the industry’s best competitions, fellowships, labs and workshops. Coverfly is a carefully curated, invite-only submissions management platform; organizations on Coverfly must adhere to specific criteria to be eligible to accept submissions via Coverfly. Coverfly’s Writer Dashboard allows writers to manage their submissions to multiple competitions from one place. Additionally, writers can opt into the free searchable screenplay database where vetted industry professionals can search and discover talented emerging writers and projects.

For the organizations that accept submissions via Coverfly, we’ve linked to their Coverfly submission pages above.

Full disclosure: The Script Lab’s parent company, Industry Arts, has ownership in Coverfly, ScreenCraft and WeScreenplay which are mentioned above.

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