Entry Fee: $60-$80 2020 Deadlines: January 19 – April 30
Here is another opportunity to win some cash and connect with industry mentors. It’s also a direct line to the studios that partner with the contest to discover new voices.
This Coverfly-qualifying grant program, founded in 2010, seeks scripts that “challenge us to use our freedom to grow and develop, confront us with our individual responsibility, and examine the consequences of our choices.” Up to six writers are selected each year through writing samples and personal interviews.
In addition to each writer receiving a $7,500 grant, writers are matched with an industry mentor who guides them through rewrites for three months, and then the improved scripts are sent to studio executives aligned with the organization. Past mentors have included True Blood creator Alan Ball, Shameless writer and executive producer Nancy Pimental, and writer-producer Marc Guggenheim (Green Lantern, Arrow). 2018 winner Charlie Kelly, mentored by Family Guy co-creator David Zuckerman, has since been hired by Warner Bros. to write a feature film, and sold the TV pilot he was developing with Humanitas to Legendary.
Entry Fee: $65-$95 2020 Deadlines: April 3 – August 14, 2020
This Coverfly-qualifying contest doesn’t offer any cash prizes. Instead, Launch Pad has been focused on launching careers since being founded by The Tracking Board in 2009. The competition boasts: “452 Writers Signed—164 Projects Setup—68 Writers Staffed—7 Bidding Wars.”
Three grand-prize winners are invited to schmooze with agents, managers, executives, producers, and other creatives at an exclusive industry party, and then their projects are showcased individually to industry professionals who are specifically on the hunt for new clients, new projects, and new writers.
According to Launch Pad: “We specifically curate a meeting list for each winner based on their individual material, and what you, the writer, want to achieve now and in your career overall.” Top 10 finalists don’t get to party, but they still get their work showcased to the contest’s industry connections.
For an additional $50, entrants receive one to two pages of written feedback. Another cool $25 add-on puts submissions in a pool to score one of three industry mentors, who will hand pick the writers they want to work with in their own unique way. For another $25, writers will be considered by a literary representative partnering with Launch Pad for one guaranteed signing.
Also read: 5 Top Online Screenwriting MFA Programs
There are dozens of success stories proving Launch Pad lives up to its name, with many writers at least securing representation after entering, and some others, like 2014 Top 10 finalist Eric Koenig, selling spec scripts.
Entry Fee: $45-$75 2020 Deadlines: January 20 – May 20
Between the huge grand prize, access to industry professionals, and high volume of success stories, PAGE is one of the most respected screenplay competitions. It’s been discovering and awarding talent since 2004.
Original feature screenplays submitted for this popular Coverfly-qualifying contest compete in seven genre categories, and can be considered in multiple categories for an additional fee. One grand-prize winner gets $25,000 plus a trip to Italy to attend the Nostos Screenwriting Retreat. First, second and third place winners in each genre category receive $1,000, $500 and $250, respectively.
All winners also get access to a few helpful screenwriter services and resources, like Ink-Tip, which will send loglines to a network of over 15,000 producers, agents, and managers. Roadmap Writers provides winners with a private consultation with an industry executive to review their first 15 pages, as well as a 15-minute story notes call.
Unfortunately, feedback on your script costs an extra $95. However, the feedback consists of six to seven pages of in-depth analysis.
Joe Webb, who is now a working writer with credits on the TV dramas Quantico and Sleepy Hollow, credits this competition with helping him break into the industry. “After my PAGE win, I signed with The Gersh Agency and my Silver Prize-winning script Icon was optioned by Sony,” he told the competition. “In addition, my TV pilot Books was produced by Fremantle Media and just won the top drama prize at the New York Television Festival. Thanks for running such a great contest!”
Entry Fee: $49-$69 2020 Deadlines: Year Round
ScreenCraft offers 14 screenwriting competitions each year (all of which are Coverfly-qualifying), separated by genre or format. In the organization’s mind, that approach helps eliminate any genre bias judges may have. It also means that deadlines are coming and going all year, so any interested screen- writers will have to keep an eye on Screencraft’s busy calendar to see when contest opportunities that best suit their work open up.
Prizes are uniform across the genre spectrum. Grand-prize winners receive $1,000, a personal introduction to literary representatives seeking new talent, screenwriting software, acceptance into the ScreenCraft Development Program, and a Complimentary Badge for the 2021 ScreenCraft Summit. The runner-up gets $500 and is accepted into the development program, receiving a 50 percent discount off of the summit badge.
The annual ScreenCraft Summit offers workshops, panels, cocktail parties, pitch events and mentorship with some of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, agents and producers. This year’s speakers and mentors coming to the Chicago event include Oscar winner David Rabinowitz (BlacKkKlansman), Oscar nominee Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), and Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island). The ScreenCraft Fellowship is another opportunity worth considering. In addition to ongoing professional support, recipients are flown to Los Angeles for meetings, mentorship and personal introductions to key entertainment studio executives, producers, literary managers and agents. According to the organization, every fellow in the 2019 class obtained a literary manager through the process.
Continue to see the rest of MovieMaker‘s submission-worthy screenwriting competitions