The Top 6 Screenwriting Competitions to Spend Your Time and Money On

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There’s a lot of controversy out there about whether or not screenwriting competitions are effective for breaking into the industry. There are hundreds to choose from, and 99% of the time they cost money, so which ones – if any - are worth your blood, sweat, and hard earned cash?

Personally, I find competitions to be extremely effective if you’re looking for representation or the chance to pitch projects. I know individuals who’ve sold movies and gotten agents and managers via screenwriting competitions. However, as any competition is, it’s very competitive, and you only really benefit if you place 1st (maybe 2nd) at a high quality contest. 

So which ones are the high quality contests? Sadly, there are a lot of mediocre (and expensive) competitions out there, so to save you time and money, I’ve compiled a list of which competitions I think are worth investing in.

 

1. Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

Awards: Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded per year.

Cost: Ranging from $45 to $85 depending on time of submission.

Deadline: May 1st

 

2. PAGE International Screenwriting Awards

Awards: $25,000 to one screenwriter with the best screenplay over any genre; Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards in each of the ten genre categories.

Cost: Ranging from $45 to $85 depending on time of submission.

Deadline: Mid-May

 

3. Austin Film Festival Screenplay and Pilot Competitions

Awards: various awards based on various factors. Learn more here 

Cost: Ranging from $35 to $70 depending on time of submission and type of submission (short screenplay vs. feature screenplay).

Deadline: Mid-May

  

4. Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest

Awards: 11 winners share up to $80,000 in cash and prizes; 2 grand prize winners are flown to Los Angeles and are introduced to producers and executives.

Cost: Ranging from $40 to $75 depending on time of submission.

Deadline: Mid-July

 

5. The Tracking B Launch Pad Pilot Competition 

Awards: various awards based on various factors. Learn more here

Cost: Ranging from $65 to $95 depending on time of submission.

Deadline: March 6

 

6. New York TV Festival Pilot Competition

Awards: various awards based on various factors. Learn more here

Cost: Ranging from $30 to $145 depending on time of submission.

Deadline: May 1st

 

While there are hundreds of screenwriting competitions out there, I’m giving these 6 the Carole Kirschner stamp of approval. These often give winners opportunities to connect with agents and managers, which in my opinion is more beneficial than getting a fancy check (although that’s a nice perk too). They are connected to prestigious companies and individuals, so you know you’re placing your hat in the right ring (and your money in the right pocket). 

Happy submitting!

 

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About Carole
Director of WGA's Showrunner Training Program, creator & Director of the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program, international speaker and a leading expert on entertainment career strategies, Carole Kirschner teaches creative professionals how to navigate the often mystifying landscape of show business. Her book, Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment is a primer on how to break in and move up in the entertainment industry. Through her popular workshops, Carole teaches writers, producers, directors and executives the real world strategies that will help them not just succeed, but thrive.


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